After the Good Life - Introduction

  • Stephen Schryer University of New Brunswick


When people refer to the good life, they usually have in mind a specific middle-class lifestyle that flourished between the 1940s and early 1970s. This lifestyle has steadily eroded since that period as the socioeconomic circumstances that sustained it disappeared; most of the welfare systems that protected the middle class have worn thin, and middle-class work has become tenuous and uncertain as a result of downsizing and permatemping. We live in a world marked, in Loïc Wacquant's terms, by "Social Insecurity" (Punishing the Poor 3), a generalised sense of anxiety brought about by the acceleration of creative destruction within late capitalism. Nevertheless, the good life persists as an ideal with ambiguous effects. At times, it helps citizens challenge the neoliberal assaults on what remains of the welfare state. At other times, this ideal props up neoliberal ideology itself, keeping workers chasing after the ever-receding mirage of middle-class security.

Author Biography

Stephen Schryer, University of New Brunswick
Dr Stephen Schryer is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Brunswick. He is the author of Fantasies of the New Class: Ideologies of Professionalism in Post-World War II American Fiction (Columbia University Press, 2011), co-winner of the Canadian Association for American Studies' Robert K. Martin Book Prize. He has published articles in PMLA, Modern Fiction Studies and Arizona Quarterly. His new project, tentatively titled "Cultures of Poverty: American Literature and the Politics of Welfare" focuses on literary representations of poverty in the post-New Deal welfare state.
How to Cite
Schryer, Stephen. 2015. “After the Good Life - Introduction”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 20 (June).
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