THE SELF-CONSCIOUS SOCIETY by Eric Larrabee
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THE SELF-CONSCIOUS SOCIETY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It has just about reached the point where books about Americans' concern with themselves have become, in turn, subjects for study. The process has infinite possibilities and in two essays here Eric Larrabee, Managing Editor of American Heritage, provocatively and incisively manages to get considerable mileage out of the prevailing discussion of ""status"" and the ""popular culture"". He discusses various sociological concepts of ""class"" and he decides that the notion of ""status"" (according to Vance Packard) has been enjoying ""a factitious popularity"" for to exploit ""status"" is to diminish it. He is more optimistic about Mass Culture than many of its detractors (particularly Dwight MacDonald) and feels that it is not inimical to Class (or Elite) Culture but rather strengthens it. There are some very sensible essays on jazz, our hypocritical attitude towards pornography, childhood in America and the necessity of living simultaneously in an economy of Abundance and Scarcity. And in an essay on The Imaginary Audience he points out the follies of a communications system tyrannized by an audience of their own conception. Parts of the book have appeared in Horizon magazine in slightly different form.

Publisher: Doubleday