Haley Scholars Fall 2012 Reading Groups
In chapter 6 of Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell highlights cultural legacies. He opens with disturbing descriptions of how
longstanding cultural patterns and beliefs influenced violent conflicts
among generations of families in Kentucky during the 19th century.
The compelling research findings concerning long-term and deeply held
values led Gladwell to the conclusion that cultural legacies are
powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist,
generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and
social demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they
play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make
sense of our world without them. He goes on to note the possibilities of “taking cultural legacies
seriously” in order to learn “why people succeed and how to make people
It’s worth noting that highlighting cultural legacies can easily give
way to problematic racial and gendered generalizations—generalizations
we have necessarily been inclined to critique or avoid.
Having said that, what was your take on Gladwell's discussion of cultural legacies? How did his narratives or claims alter or confirm your views about the significance of cultural legacies?