The Eclipse of Community: An Interpretation of American Studies

The Eclipse of Community: An Interpretation of American Studies

MAURICE ROBERT STEIN
Copyright Date: 1960
Pages: 354
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0s2q
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  • Book Info
    The Eclipse of Community: An Interpretation of American Studies
    Book Description:

    The author examines classic American community studies written during the past fifty years, such as Robert Park on Chicago, the Lynds on Muncie (Middletown), Lloyd Warner on Newburyport, to formulate a theory of American community development.

    Originally published in 1971.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6847-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
    Maueice R. Stein
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-10)

    American historians who have been writing the history of the past fifty years have access to an important source of data in the many community studies completed by American sociologists during this period. These studies differ from other sources of information about national history in that they describe events occurring at a great distance from the places where national power was concentrated. No picture of the daily round of life in a middle-sized American town during the twenties can be found to improve upon that presented by the Lynds in Middletown, while any historian interested in the social effects of...

  5. PART I. FOUNDATIONS
    • CHAPTER 1 ROBERT PARK AND URBANIZATION IN CHICAGO
      (pp. 13-46)

      There is no more comprehensive approach to the study of American communities than that developed at the University of Chicago during the twenties. Here a group of scholars com pleted a set of empirical studies that leave us with more sociological knowledge about the city of Chicago than is currently available for any other single American community. In order to appreciate the value of this information, it is important to consider the historical circumstances under which it was gathered. While the Chicago sociologists tended to assume that their findings would have unlimited applicability, we now know that the process of...

    • CHAPTER 2 THE LYNDS AND INDUSTRIALIZATION IN MIDDLETOWN
      (pp. 47-69)

      A set of studies comparable in depth and importance to those carried out by Park and his students are the two investigations of Muncie, Indiana, undertaken by Helen and Robert Lynd. Their full picture of life in a medium-sized American town during the mid-twenties and then during the mid-thirties has drawn the praise of non-professional as well as professional readers. In fact, much of our image of small-town life during these periods comes from the Lynds’ work, supplemented by the astonishingly similar literary reports of Sinclair Lewis. Just as Theodore Dreiser provides novelistic documentation of the human dramas enacted in...

    • CHAPTER 3 LLOYD WARNER AND BUREAUCRATIZATION IN YANKEE CITY
      (pp. 70-93)

      The third classic study of an American community, ranking with those of Chicago and Muncie, is Lloyd Warner’s exploration of Newburyport, Massachusetts. This has been reported in four volumes of an announced six-volume series. The field work was completed between 1930 and 1935 by a research team with exceptional facilities. Of the four volumes published,The Social System of the Modern Factory,by Warner and J.O. Low, makes the most significant contribution to the theory being developed in this paper. Two other volumes,The Social Life of a Modern Community,by Warner and Paul Lunt, andThe Social Systems of...

    • CHAPTER 4 TOWARD A THEORY OF AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
      (pp. 94-114)

      After these selective summaries of three sets of American community studies, the remaining task is to show how they provide the basis for developing a generalized theoretical approach to the field. This theory should be able to account for the main patterns of change found in each of these communities so as to facilitate exploration of the same patterns under quite different circumstances. In other words, the theory has to point toward further cumulative research. It is just this problem of accumulation that has made theorizing in this area so difficult. Community studies are always confined in time and space...

  6. PART II. DEVELOPMENT
    • INTRODUCTION TO PART II
      (pp. 117-118)

      The five chapters in this part can be viewed as separate case studies—indeed, they deliberately highlight the distinctive findings and contributions in each instance. However, proper appreciation of the “individuality” of each case study should not interfere with recognizing its contribution to the theory. The interpretations always trace the disorganizing and reorganizing effects of urbanization, industrialization, and bureaucratization. Furthermore, viewed as a sequence, the five chapters plot certain structural trends in American community life from the twenties through the early fifties. They present the historical and conceptual material necessary for exploring the development, structure, and functioning of contemporary American...

    • CHAPTER 5 THE SLUM: STREET CORNER SOCIETY
      (pp. 119-134)

      Novelists portraying city life have been as fascinated with slums as were the urban sociologists. In both instances, the preoccupation stemmed from an image of the slum as a place where the violent contrasts of city life found their sharpest expression. Slums were seen both as urban jungles in which lawlessness prevailed and, because of their association with tight little immigrant colonies, as the last stronghold of traditional intimate social life in the impersonal city. These two images—the slum as jungle and the slum as ghetto—still dominate both the sociological and the literary approaches to this sub-community.

      Whatever...

    • CHAPTER 6 BOHEMIA: CREATION, NEGATION, FLIGHT, AND REVOLT
      (pp. 135-152)

      Though hardly less fascinating than its next-door neighbor, the slum, our Bohemias have never received as much attention from American sociologists. This neglect is unfortunate, since in this special sub-community certain basic community processes can be seen in sharpest relief. There is only one piece of full-scale field research, Caroline Ware’sGreenwich Village,1920-1930, to counterpose to the myriad studies of slums in Chicago and elsewhere. Luckily, sociologically-oriented literary historians and critics have taken up some of these problems, with the result that a book likeExile’s Returnby Malcolm Cowley is helpful for interpreting the social and cultural structure...

    • CHAPTER 7 DEEP SOUTH
      (pp. 153-174)

      During the late thirties two excellent studies of Southern towns were completed by American social scientists. The first,Deep Southby Allison Davis, Burleigh Gardner, and Mary Gardner, is primarily a study of social organization and social control. The second,Caste and Class in a Southern Town,by John Dollard, supplements the sociological picture by examining the psychological effects that this social structure has on the people involved in it. Taken together, the two provide a good working conception of Southern small-town life during the thirties.

      Both studies demonstrate the importance of regional patterns and problems. Yankee City, as its...

    • CHAPTER 8 WORLD WAR II AND MILITARY COMMUNITIES
      (pp. 175-198)

      There are no community studies which do for the years of World War II what the Lynds’Middletotim in Transitiondid for the depression era. But there are a number of partial studies that throw light on different aspects of community life during this interval without quite getting at the interplay of basic social processes as have the best community studies. Part of the problem lies in the fact that many sociologists were themselves engaged in military service of one kind or another so that their availability for research of this kind was limited, while those at home often had...

    • CHAPTER 9 SUBURBIA: DREAM OR NIGHTMARE?
      (pp. 199-226)

      Students of the American community in the fifties have had their attention drawn to the suburbs much as the attention of their counterparts in the twenties was drawn to the slums.

      On the face of it, the reasons would appear to be quite different: the slum is the center of urban disorganization while the suburb would appear to be that of urban aspiration. Closer attention to the details of suburban life suggests, however, that it is actually the setting for the dominant “disorders” of our-time. A popular and perhaps impressionistic study like Spectorsky’sThe Exurbanitesstarts with exactly this premise...

  7. PART III. PERSPECTIVES
    • INTRODUCTION TO PART III
      (pp. 229-229)

      The purpose of Part III is to gain perspective on the contemporary community by studying it in light of selected anthropological and psychoanalytic findings. These disciplines draw on observations and interpretations of human life in the broadest possible terms. They throw the distinctive ordering principles of modern community life into high relief and provide conceptual tools for assessing the psychic and social costs that American communities exact in return for the opportunities they offer. Psychoanalysis and anthropology deepen our approach to community organization by detecting qualities and dimensions of human existence that sociological theories tend to neglect.

      Chapter 10 draws...

    • CHAPTER 10 ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE MODERN COMMUNITY
      (pp. 230-250)

      Sociological theories about community development usually contain historical assumptions as to the character of earlier communities. If the theory aims at encompassing the broadest sweep of human history, the theorist has to include anthropological materials. In the best tradition of social-political theorizing, starting perhaps with Hobbes and Rousseau and moving through Marx, Spencer, Comte, Maine, Toennies, Veblen, Durkheim, and Weber, there is a serious effort to come to terms with available ethnographic materials. The classical theorists have been eminently responsible in this connection; for example, Maine’s status-based social order, Toennies’ Gemeinschaft, or Durkheim’s mechanical solidarity all offer conceptions of primitive...

    • CHAPTER 11 PSYCHOANALYTIC PERSPECTIVES ON THE MODERN COMMUNITY
      (pp. 251-274)

      Psychoanalytic concepts and therapies have become important elements in the daily life of some urban sub-communities. The exurbanites, for example, are all too familiar with both. Many of them have been patients, others have experienced arduous readjustments when members of their family underwent treatment, and all are regularly exposed to heavy doses of the psychoanalytic jargon which suffuses the communications industries. Many of the ubiquitous experts in Crestwood Heights are “analytically-oriented.” So too are the case workers in Cornerville. And the inhabitants of Greenwich Village have a broader range of choice among psychoanalytic schools than they do among breakfast cereals....

    • CHAPTER 12 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE MODERN COMMUNITY
      (pp. 275-303)

      Each of the chapters in Part II showed how the processes of urbanization, industrialization, and bureaucratization shaped the social structure of a different type of community. The fact that these separate studies, undertaken independently at different times and places, revealed underlying similarities at the level of community processes tends to confirm the generalized significance of the shaping processes that form the basis of this theory. These processes are still transforming American communities. This concluding chapter will outline their general effects focused around the social structure of suburbia. For purposes of contrast, a recent study of a rural village is introduced....

  8. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 304-338)

    This entire book has established a perspective for treating community studies as case studies showing the workings of fundamental social processes in specific American contexts. It has demonstrated that sociological reports on communities contain vital information about broad American social changes and established a framework for initiating further studies of this kind. It is clear, however, that there are different styles of community sociology. At first glance, Park and the Lynds would seem to be poles apart in their intellectual orientations and their research styles. They actually are in many respects. But it must also be noted that they share...

  9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 339-342)
  10. NAME INDEX
    (pp. 343-346)
  11. SUBJECT INDEX
    (pp. 347-354)