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Professor Mack surveys the U.S. scene in terms of the basic functions served by any viable society: reproduction, education and motivation of ""personnel,"" production and distribution, politics or ""keeping order."" He tries to describe the effect of scientific and industrial development on each. Mack says he wants to summarize present social-scientific knowledge so the reader can draw his own conclusions; but this is essentially a popularization of cold-war conservative sociology as expounded in the same liberal rhetoric by Lipset, Bell, Encounter, et al. without their- urbane, explicit arguments. Mack's message comes through the lines, which call for such transformational priorities as extra aid to bright students and more birth-control measures for poor nations lest they look hungrily at their prosperous neighbor. Instead of analysis he offers banalities such as ""man adapts his environment to himself"" and arid conundrums such as ""Is big government necessarily the road to tyranny?"". We get the news that the single largest federal expenditure is for ""preservation of external order,"" while Asia and Africa display ""the spread of self-government""; one would never learn from this book that the U.S. is fighting in Vietnam, much less what ""external order"" means. A functionalist scholar need not be conservative, a conservative position need not be fragmented and pseudo-objective, but this primer could make readers swear off sociology.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1967
Publisher: Random House