The Study of Man:
The Business Elite: Then and Now
The prestige of the American businessman, appropriately enough in this land of free enterprise and social mobility, has always been great. In other societies, where private enterprise labors under many restrictions and holds out fewer rewards, and venerable professions or traditional aristocracies enjoy a more exalted status, the businessman has never basked in such public favor. For a brief interval during the depression of the 1930’s and in its afterglow, his prestige even in America was low, his word little heeded, his story unappealing as a subject for the popular magazines. But the return of prosperity, the extraordinary performance of industry during and since World War II (aided, of course, by labor and government), and the big corporations’ emphasis on public service and social responsibility seem to have raised the businessman to new heights of esteem. Of course, there is still a fair amount of criticism of big business in the air, but the big businessman himself is held in very high regard. In novels and short stories, in the movies and now on television, in politics and technology, he is enjoying a bullish period.
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