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A study of our social structure today, the class labels we attach and social lines we pursue, probably does not have the elements of jolting revelation of The Hidden Persuaders (i.e. big popular potential); but the Vance Packard name, along with the established penchant for abrasive self-appraisal (John Keats, William H. White, Jr., etc.) should give this breakdown of our social and behavioral attitudes its calculable elements of success. If we are not as claimed by some ""one vast middle class""- there is the observable drift toward a bureaucratized society based on ""bigness"", the upthrust from the working to the middle class which has sharply diminished the former, the new ""diploma elite"" which is replacing the old aristocracy of bloodlines and breeding. Still a two dimensional class system remains, one gauged by money, job, education and style of life, the other by ethnic and religious differences. Here, itemized, are all the indicators of status; the home; the right address (and the oppressive uniformity of the new ""one-layer"" community); the ""totem poles of job prestige"" which extends even among prostitutes; the hierarchy in big business; and the many, many tattletale giveaways in the way you shop, speak- U or non-U, entertain, drink, bring up your children and educate them, and select areas of certain discrimination- churches, clubs, lodges, schools, colleges, etc. In isolating the drive toward what is desirable in a worldly sense, in achieving upward mobility, a due bill is also presented, and the argument for an approach toward a more open society should certainly have a constructive value.... Based on a large body of sociological investigation and opinion (less his own- than others'), this takes the blinders off, shows up our hidden prejudices and has a lot of fascinating, mortifying material to illustrate them.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1959
Publisher: David McKay