Cultural And Social Forces In a Book ‘Outliers’ By Malcolm Gladwell
In the book, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell focuses on a person’s ability to affect change in society. This book deals with the cultural and social forces that give rise to opportunistic individuals. At the beginning of the book, Gladwell says an Outlier is as a person ‘who doesn’t fit into our normal understanding of achievement.’ Gladwell says ‘people don’t rise from nothing,’ and that ‘we do owe something to parentage and patronage.’ He is correct. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. We also owe something to all the opportunities we have had had throughout our life. In Outliers, The lives of people who have accomplished something outstanding into our world today are told, while finding out what steps along the way made them different than everyone else.
The first part of Outliers is about opportunities. Gladwell’s main statements are that success results come from many different types of things. He wants to show us, readers, that these kinds of ‘personal explanations of success don’t work,’ or to prove that there is more to a person’s success story than just their talent. At the beginning of the book, Gladwell talks about Canadian hockey player’s date of births. He tells us, readers, that 40% of the best players ‘will have been born between January and March.’ The players who are born in these months get ‘better coaching, play in the majority of the games, practice twice as much,’ and also have better teammates. He provides facts and evidence to prove that random factors, such as one’s date of birth, can be needed to succeed Czech and Canadian national sports teams. No one born after September 1 was on the team. Since the ‘late-born prodigy’ does not get chosen, he does not get the extra practice. Without that extra practice, ‘he does not have a chance at hitting ten thousand hours by the time the professional hockey teams start looking for players.’ Without the 10,000-hour rule, there is no way anyone could master the skills they would want to achieve. Gladwell states that you alone cannot complete the 10,000-hour rule. This is where parentage comes into play. A person benefits from ‘parents who encourage you and support you.’ Gladwell then provides the readers with an example of the Beatles to show that the 10,000-hour rule is an example of success. By the time they had their first burst of success, ‘they had performed live an estimated twelve thousand times.’ The ‘Hamburg crucible’ is the thing made the Beatles different from all of the others. Without having the Hamburg crucible, they would not have learned ‘stamina.’ The band was not ‘disciplined’ onstage before. The Hamburg crucible helped the band be guided into a way that changes their ways. It gave them multiple opportunities.
In Part Two of Outliers, Gladwell talks about legacy and heritage. Gladwell explains that the ‘culture of honor’ says that it matters where a person is from, as he states ‘where your great-grandparents grew up…’ He also claims that ‘cultural legacies’ turn out to be more different and more powerful than professionals are ever expected to be. Two psychologists, Dov Choen and Richard Nisbett, decided to conduct an experiment on the ‘culture of honor.’ They wanted to see if it was possible to find ‘remnants’ of the culture of honor in the language modern era. They tested the word ‘asshole’ on young men from the south. This experiment concluded that if you call a southerner an ‘asshole,’ he is ‘itching for a fight.’ Dov and Richard were seeing that the ‘culture of honor’ came into action. The southerners were reacting like Wix Howard when Little Bob Turner accused him of cheating. This started a controversy between those two southern families. “Cultural legacies” are very powerful forces. They have ‘deep roots’ and ‘long lives.’ Gladwell claims that cultural legacies play a role in ‘directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them.’ Success arises out of the steady advantages shown in this book: ‘when and where you are born,’ and ‘what your parents did for a living.’
Gladwell uses a variety of examples to prove that people do not ‘rise from nothing’ and that we do owe something to ‘parentage and patronage.’ He mentions that we are so caught up in the myths of the ‘best and brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth.’ That is not the case. We need to replace the ‘arbitrary advantages’ with a society that provides opportunities for all of us. All throughout the book, the person reading this could understand the point Gladwell is trying to make. As the book comes to an end, Gladwell tells his whole story of his success which has to do with his great-great-great- grandmother’s lighter skin color gave her son the privilege of a ‘skin color that spared him the life of slavery.’ Our culture, heritage, legacies, and opportunities are what guide us into becoming as successful as we are to this day.
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