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The Wild West
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The Wild West
The Mythical Cowboy and Social Theory

First Edition


© 2001 | 206 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
'An extremely accessible, well structured and imaginative reading of market and social theory in terms of the myth of the Wild West frontier'

New Formations

This book, written by the author of the celebrated volume Six Guns and Society, explains why the myth of the Wild West is popular around the world. It shows how the cultural icon of the Wild West speaks to deep desires of individualism and liberty and offers a vision of social contract theory in which a free and equal individual (the cowboy) emerges from the state of nature (the wilderness) to build a civil society (the frontier community). The metaphor of the Wild West retained a commitment to some limited government (law and order) but rejected the notion of the fully codified state as too oppressive (the corrupt sheriff).

Compelling and magnificently suggestive, the book unpacks one of the core icons of our time. It is a unique discussion of market and social theory using cultural myth. Will Wright fully explores how issues of individualism, freedom and inequality in the myth of the Wild West connect up with questions of white, male superiority and environmental degradation.

 
Introduction
The Individualist Cowboy  
 
PART ONE: INDIVIDUALISM
 
The Social Contract
 
`Natural' Individuals
 
The Invisible Hand
 
PART TWO: INDUSTRIAL PROBLEMS
 
Marx
The Revolutionary and the Cowboy  
 
Weber
Bureaucracy and the Cowboy  
 
Durkheim
Endless `Frontiers'  
 
PART THREE: MYTHICAL INSIGHTS
 
Separating the Women
 
Removing the Indians
 
Sustaining the Wilderness
 
Conclusion
The Wild Individualist West  

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

Chapter 7


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