A "self-made man" or "self-made woman" is a person who was born poor or otherwise disadvantaged, but who achieved great economic or other success thanks to their own hard work and ingenuity rather than because of any inherited fortune, family connections, or other privilege.
In the cultural history of the United States, the idea of the self-made man, an "essential American figure," looms large. It has been described as an archetype, a cultural ideal, a myth, or a cult.
- Pendergast, Tom (2000). Creating the modern man: American magazines and consumer culture, 1900-1950. Columbia, Mo.: Univ. of Missouri Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780826212801.
- Swansburg, John (September 29, 2014). "The Self-Made Man: The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth". Slate.
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