the organization man and the lonely crowd

Book written by David Riesman that criticized the people of the 50s who no longer made decisions based on morals, ethics and values; they were allowing society to tell them what is right and wrong. Join in the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing campaign by More Love Letters, happening until December 17, and write personal notes to strangers. Tradition-directed social types obeyed rules established a long time in the past and rarely succeeded in modern society, with its dynamic changes. So observed D. H. Lawrence in his idiosyncratic Studies in Classic American Literature, one of the enduringly valuable books about American life. Is There Anything Good About Men? Major Works by David Riesman. But women, Gilligan proposed, showed a strikingly different trajectory of moral evolution and a different style of moral judgment, and researchers who habitually treated the male pattern as “normal” needed henceforth to take respectful account of women’s difference. Although the book was a kind of successor in genre to The Lonely Crowd, it was in the end a far more unsparing analysis of contemporary America. The debate over “multiculturalism” that rages in contemporary academe reflects a fear that the satisfactions achieved through the embrace of ethnic tribalism or other particularisms may come at an incalculable price to the common culture, upon whose cohesion all such self-conscious and hyphenate embraces depend. For example, she argued, women’s perception of self is much more consistently embedded in relationship with others than was the case for autonomy-minded men; hence their moral decisions are made contextually, rather than by reference to an abstract and impersonal standard of justice. But that image is, of course, far from being the whole truth, especially about the intellectual ferment of those years. [page needed] This earliest social type was succeeded by people who were inner-directed. Such was the gravamen of such influential postwar works as David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd or William Whyte’s The Organization Man, which sought to guard the endangered self against what were seen as the totalistic demands of an organized and conforming world. Logan Wilson. [original research?]. Many of its assertions have since proved wrong, most notably a demographic hypothesis that tied the rate of population growth to national character type, a hypothesis that Riesman himself abandoned in the … A notable exception to this last generalization, Jimmy Carter’s use of William James’ notion of a “moral equivalent of war” as the rhetorical frame for his comprehensive national energy policy, was not a notable success. Habits preferred to frame the issue linguistically—as one of enhancing public discourse by bolstering Americans’ “second language” of republican and biblical forms, and pointing out its embeddedness in the shared “narratives” of “communities of memory,” as a counter to its “first language” of radical individualism. And on the level of domestic national politics, beginning with the administration of Johnson’s successor, Richard Nixon, through the successive administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush, the rhetoric of streamlining, decentralization, and New Federalism regularly took precedence over the appeal to a consolidated national community. It is notable that the symbolism of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington pointedly refuses the allusion to nation, offering instead the engraved names of the thousands of dead or missing individuals. Like it or not, the Memorial fittingly represents our condition. The latter of these works also affixed a memorable label to the human results of those demands. They trace the evolution of society from a tradition-directed culture, one that moved in a direction defined by preceding generations. The book's title was chosen by the publisher, not by Riesman or his co-authors, Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney. There is constant discussion in bifurcated societies about “a supposed opposition between individualism and collectivism,” he observes, but in fact, such debates are superficial. There is a price for the possibility of authentic community, a price levied, so to speak, both up and down the scale of organization—both upon the would-be autonomous self, and upon the consolidated social order within which it presently lives, moves, and has its being. They perhaps constitute a special case of Tocqueville’s more general observation that Americans have a propensity for forming themselves into voluntary associations, which generally combine a functional purpose with a social one, bringing men and women together for the sake of a self-identified, homogeneous community of interest. The Eriksonian Bildungsroman, built around the passage from infantile dependence to adult autonomy, reflected a conception of adulthood that favored the separateness of the individual self over its connection to others. The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character, by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denny About this title: The Lonely Crowd is indispensable reading for anyone who wishes to understand the social character of the United States. But if we are to have a national discussion of individualism, and if such a discussion is to move beyond simplistic platitudes, which often serve only to veil the instrumental partisanship that really motivates them—the ritual invocation of the 1980s as a “decade of greed,” for example—we will have to think more deeply and carefully about what American individualism really is, and about the proper social preconditions for combating it. When David Riesman died this past May at the age of ninety- two, it was something of a surprise to learn that he had still been alive. The man of God, though not of this world, must surely be in it. Other writers, of course, took less subtle positions; and over the course of the nineteenth century, the prevailing views of different periods varied dramatically. Yet it seems possible that the social ideals capable of energizing Americans have begun to change, in roughly the same direction that MacIntyre’s words suggest: towards disaggregation, dispersal, decentralization, and at the same time towards more intense experiences of community—that is, toward identification with social forms intimate enough to bridge the gap between isolated, morally irresponsible selves and ubiquitous, morally irresponsible organizations. This would seem to promise a chronically anarchic and ungovernable world. But the ultimate impact of such thinking appears uncertain. When visitors come to the Vietnam Memorial, they have not come to gaze upon a grand monumental structure, but to pick out a familiar name on a collective tombstone. The latter of these works also affixed a memorable label to the human results of those demands. Still, as a critique of American culture, Lawrence’s remarks are harder to dismiss. The Lonely Crowd is a 1950 sociological analysis by David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. But real freedom came not from such chain-rattling opposition but from inner obedience, from belonging to “a living, organic, believing community, active in fulfilling some unfulfilled, perhaps unrealized, purpose.” People are not free, he asserted, “when they are doing just what they like.” Indeed, “if one wants to be free, one has to give up the illusion of doing what one likes, and seek what IT wishes done.” Despite Lawrence’s idiosyncratic paganism—what, after all, did he mean by IT?—and the fact that he was himself really something of a Hipster, the command is also rich with more venerable Christian overtones: who would save his life must lose it; who would be free must first submit. By the 1940s, the other-directed character was beginning to dominate society. Thirteenth printing, January 1967. In a deeper sense, they are more like siblings: mutually defined, mutually enabling. The Balkanization of American politics and social life along the lines of highly specific and exclusive identities may represent nothing more than a translation of the energies of radical individualism into group terms—making possible a more effective pursuit of the group’s interests within the context of a pluralistic, bureaucratic, and procedural political order, but leaving the public life of the nation impoverished, and perhaps that much further from the possibility of communities capable of sustaining healthy and enlivening differences. Society itself, he proclaimed, was a “conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members,” which served to “untune and dissipate the brave aspirant” and shunt him off into the shame of abject conformity. For MacIntyre, this problem was especially pronounced in the case of the modern nation-state, which his prescriptions assaulted directly, comparing the present situation to the declining years of the Roman Empire. The result of this balancing act, however, was a book that issued a resounding call for a restored “framework of values” upon which Americans can agree as a national community and upon which they can rebuild a common social life—but that was unfailingly nebulous in specifying what those values might be. It established the categories Americans now use when thinking about the workplace, the suburbs, and their lives. The Lonely Crowd also argues that society dominated by the other-directed faces profound deficiencies in leadership, individual self-knowledge, and human potential. Such communities would prove unfavorable habitats for Hipsters or Organization Men, since those types depend upon a scale of organization that renders the individual both unencumbered and impotent. Tocqueville seemed to think so. This arrangement offers the individual little satisfaction or freedom. How to define oneself became a function of the way others lived. 1962 M oses was a man without a country. This thought seems to be supported by many of the most distinguished observers of American social character, from Alexis de Tocqueville on, who often take the country to task (or praise it) for diametrically opposite traits—sometimes even in the same work. By recommending a turning away from the imperium, MacIntyre was asserting, in the tradition of Plato and Aristotle, the connection between a particular political regime or social order and a particular kind of soul. If anything, the opposite effect seems more likely, at least in the short run. “[W]e too have reached that turning point,” he declares darkly, and so our task is “the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us.” The reconstruction of “community,” of the possibility of social units mediating between radical individuals and the vast megastructures in which they are embedded, units in which connectedness and moral responsibility were once again possible, had become paramount in importance. An Anchor for the Lonely Crowd. They discovered the potential within themselves to live and act not according to established norms but based on what they discovered using their own inner gyroscope. Such a line of argument also reflected a longer tradition of American feminist thought, stretching back to Margaret Fuller’s stubborn call for self-sufficiency, and to the language and style of the 1848 Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments. But this was not only a sentiment of the right. The Lonely Crowd isconsidered by many to be the most influential book of the twentieth century. America, he taunted, was in thrall to antiauthoritarian fanaticism; it was “a vast republic of escaped slaves,” of “masterless” souls who fancy that they can find freedom by “escaping to some wild west” wherein they can evade all constraint. A work that thus set out to address the disintegrative tendencies of contemporary American culture ended up capitulating to those tendencies at every crucial point. Together with White Collar: The American Middle Classes (1951), written by Riesman's friend and colleague, C. Wright Mills, it is considered a landmark study of American character. Yet that result seems likely so long as there is no authoritative way left of talking about obligations that transcend the self, and about the prerequisites of moral community. For example, the following one from David Brooks’s Bobos in Paradise (2000): “The general tenor of the social criticism of the 1950s—whether it was The Organization Man or The Lonely Crowd—was that a smothering sprit of deference had settled over the land… These writers drew from a distinction the philosopher John Dewey had laid down—between ‘customary’ and ‘reflective’ morality. Such works as The Lonely Crowd and The Organization Man contributed immeasurably to the tenacious image we have of the fifties as an era of torpid complacency and other-directed conformity. Riesman et al. In the nineteenth cen-tury, the argument goes, the ruling social character of people was inner-direction. Considered by many to be the first of many books raising questions about conformity and individuality in post-war.! 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