NEW RULES: Searching for Self-Fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down by Daniel Yankelovich
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NEW RULES: Searching for Self-Fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pollster Yankelovich takes as his complex agenda the cultural shift of the 1970s, in which the search for self-fulfillment, in its various me-firsts guises, upset the postwar triangle of values (self-denial, family permanence, job security) and left Americans with uncertain, still-settling expectations. Is this the wave of the future? What predicaments does that search generate for its strongest advocates? And can American society, its economic assumptions overturned, support pursuits so contemptuous of political and economic realities? Using poll results, recent histories of representative adults, and impeccable scholarly sources, Yankelovich argues that the rhetoric and reshaped life-styles of the '70s have created harsh discord (hence the appeal of the Moral Majority) and the 1950s consensus no longer obtains: the meaning of money is changing and, as self-denial no longer brings the rewards of the past, the expressive domain (for some, the quest for constant satisfaction) has acquired new prominence. The examples of Americans who took the plunge, revising home or workplace priorities, are instructive. Many seem enriched by their decisions, happy enough with the consequences--a variation on ""the classic American theme of self-improvement."" But some seem burdened by new freedoms, unable to distinguish needs from desires, and still others find that inflation and economic stagnation may rob them of newly-won pleasures: those who found more satisfying jobs for lower pay may face readjustments in the 1980s. Overall, Yankelovich finds a new ethic of commitment emerging, an urge to make industrial society a more suitable place for human life, and the statistics are somewhat reassuring. Where-ever you stand on the present continuum, you'll find the footwork here most impressive, the images fresh and durable. New Rules is no shooting-star phenomenon but a carefully documented contemporary appraisal, which establishes Yankelovich as a formidable master of all he surveys.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1981
Publisher: Random House