THE LONELY CROWD by David Riesman


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Subtitled ""A Study of the Changing American Character,"" this is one of the volumes in the series ""Studies of National Policy"" issued by Yale University, the department of Economics, Political Science and Law cooperating. It might have been titled ""Mass Man in Modern America""; and it contains throughout its great and somewhat sprawling length much interesting material on the effect, for example, of mass media of communication on man, the influence of the ""personnel director"" in organizations, the ideal of the ""glad hand"", etc., etc. Mr. Riesman coined the terms ""inner-directed"" for the individualistic man of expansionist pioneer days, and of ""outer-directed"" man for the typical person in a time, such as ours, of rapidly declining population growth. By outer-directed he means persons extremely dependent on fashion, peer group approval, and consumer advertising. All this he develops at great length and unfortunately in language so debased by sociological gobbetygook that nearly every sentence has to be read twice to be grasped. The main fault of this book, however, it seems, is that its conclusions are so largely based on untypical -- though highly influential -- areas like New York. Balancing data from rural districts and smaller cities seems lacking. An interesting study for sociologists, city planners, educationists and the like, and for laymen interested in modern communal phenomena, who have the patience to plough through the verbiage. Philip Wylie says much the same things with swift intuition and wit, but of course he does not carry the same academic prestige.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1950
Publisher: Yale