This episode, new Office Hours contributor David Phillippi interviews Francesco Duina about his book, Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession. Topics include competition in sports, raising children, and comparing America’s culture of competition with Denmark. What are we trying to gain by being so competitive? And are we getting it? Listen in to find out.
andy — January 28, 2011
interesting interview...at times I felt Duina was over-generalizing a bit in his statements of America's obsession with winning. Maybe this is a given, but is "crushing the competition" really a bedrock principle of being American OR how different is this from other countries? It's hard to imagine a context where wining is not important when thinking about sports figures. But I appreciated the counter-example of his time in Sweden.
David Phillippi — January 28, 2011
Glad you liked the interview. Certainly, the book develops the ideas in much more detail than we could in our short conversation. I'd suggest reading it - not a long book and definitely worth the time. You'll get more of the comparison with Denmark, and I think you'll see he's not trying to say that other cultures aren't competitive, but that we Americans bring the language and mindset of competition into contexts where perhaps we shouldn't.
I was reminded of this conversation the other night while watching clips of Obama's State of the Union address. His catchphrase for this year, "win the future," reflects the kind of semantic confusion Duina was talking about. Maybe we all in some way intuitively understood Obama, but what does this phrase really mean? Also, he talked quite a bit about the recent progress of nations like China, whom we have traditionally believed ourselves to be ahead of. What is this focus on others for, except to foster the competitive American spirit that says that we are, and must always remain, the best.
When "Winning" Doesn't Make Sense | Mind of Modernity — January 30, 2011
[...] latest episode of ‘Office Hours,’ a social-science podcast produced by several grad students at the University of Minnesota, [...]