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Children, particularly adolescents, are the prisoners of culture claims anthropologist George Pettitt in this long and sometimes, wordy volume. He knows a great deal about the ways and means human societies go about transmitting cultural information from one generation to another and he has highly critical things to say about what is happening in America today. A combination of blind faith in education and technology dominate the society, and the young are barraged with propaganda about the importance of having a high school diploma to get a better job with more pay. This he contends is a simplistic belief in the magic of education which ignores the patterns of unemployment, the underlying conditions of social or ethnic inequity, the real requirements of many jobs, and the conspiracy of unions, management and the educational community to perpetuate the myth. Examining cultures in many parts of the world, Pettitt concludes that the young must feel useful and be given responsibility. In the face of predictions of greater leisure time and a negative income tax, he expresses a strong belief in the work ethic and comes out in a startling fashion against coeducation (as against the ""natural tendency of youth"" to form the same age sex groups -- a hominid characteristic he says). Belief in the virtue of work and opposition to coeducation seem oddly Victorian attitudes out of step with present societal changes. Unfortunately Pettit offers no clear answers concerning how society's past could be reversed and the reader wonders if it should be.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1969
Publisher: Scribners