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Human Meaning of Social Change, The

Human Meaning of Social Change, The

Angus Campbell
Philip E. Converse
Copyright Date: 1972
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 560
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  • Book Info
    Human Meaning of Social Change, The
    Book Description:

    This book is a companion piece to Sheldon and Moore'sIndicators of Social Change. WhereasIndicators of Social Changewas concerned with various kinds of "hard" data, typically sociostructural, this book is devoted chiefly to so-called "softer" data of a more social-psychological sort: the attitudes, expectations, aspirations, and values of the American population.

    The book deals with the meaning of change from two points of view. First, it is interested in the human meaning which people attribute to the complex social environment in which they find themselves; their understanding of group relations, the political process, and the consumer economy in which they participate. Secondly, it discusses the impact that the various alternatives offered by the environment have on the nature of their lives and the fulfillment of those lives.

    The twelve essays which make up the volume deal successively with the major domains of life. Each author sets forth an inclusive statement of the most significant dimensions of psychological change in a specific area of life, to review the state of present information, and to project the measurements needed to improve understanding of these changes in the future.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-102-5
    Subjects: Psychology, Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. The Contributors
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Angus Campbell and Philip E. Converse
  5. 1 Social Change and Human Change
    (pp. 1-16)
    Angus Campbell and Philip E. Converse

    That life in America is changing is a ubiquitous fact. That the population is growing, that it is shifting from the farms to the cities and from the cities to the suburbs, that incomes are increasing and consumption is expanding, that children stay in school through high school or longer and go out into jobs which are increasingly likely to be in service occupations: these are facts of life apparent to everyone in the 1970’s.

    They are also aspects of American life for which our federal agencies provide substantial statistical documentation. The growing demand for objective data regarding these structural...

  6. 2 Social Change Reflected in the Use of Time
    (pp. 17-86)
    John P. Robinson and Philip E. Converse

    How human beings allocate their time in daily life has been a matter of recurrent fascination for observers of society. Questions surrounding the interplay of labor and leisure were of frequent concern for the ancients. As an empirical social science emerged a century ago, the collection of family financial budgets was among the first forms of systematic social research on a mass scale, and with only some lag, interest broadened to include how time as well as money was expended.¹ Yet this interest has been sporadic, particularly in the West, and in 1962 a panel of distinguished social scientists, commissioned...

  7. 3 Community Social Indicators
    (pp. 87-126)
    Peter H. Rossi

    The world has become increasingly cosmopolitan, but the daily lives of most people are contained within local communities. Europe is only a few hours from the East Coast by fast jet, yet only a very small proportion of Americans have visited Europe. Indeed, the majority of Americans have still to take their first airplane trip within the United States. One in five Americans changes residence each year, but the typical move covers but a few miles.¹ One out of three Americans have never traveled more than two hundred miles from their birthplaces, and a majority are still living in the...

  8. 4 Family, Kinship, and Bureaucracy
    (pp. 127-158)
    Marvin B. Sussman

    This chapter is both pragmatic and descriptive in its approach. Some of the current institutional and structural changes that have taken place in modern society are examined, along with their concomitant effects upon family and kinship structure and behavior. Out of a vast array of ideas, a number have been selected that are compatible with this view and relevant to the social psychology of the family as it has been affected by social and institutional change. In making this selection, I eliminated those ideas and thoughts that I felt were commonplace, noncontroversial, or productive of little excitement, or those which...

  9. 5 The Meaning of Work: Interpretation and Proposals for Measurement
    (pp. 159-204)
    Robert L. Kahn

    There is a current surge of interest in social measurement, and a number of catchwords have already been proposed to identify it. Whatever its name, the purposes of this new effort are reasonably clear: to develop a set of procedures that will monitor the quality of life in a society, record over time the various gains and losses in that quality, and contribute to its improvement.

    The last of these purposes is the most problematical in the consideration and advocacy of social indicators. Any datum that is to be taken as an indicator is presumably to be taken also as...

  10. 6 Leisure
    (pp. 205-228)
    Rolf Meyersohn

    This chapter concerns itself with leisure.¹ Because leisure is compared with work yet consists of a series of activities that can be more or less “leisureful,” I have divided the discussion into several sections that represent different approaches. The first section analyzes the relationship between leisure and work and attempts to locate the structural shifts in society that provide the framework for an expansion of leisure.

    The second section deals with the very loosely organized difference between free time and leisure, a difference that stems largely from the question of the subjective meaning of free-time experiences: if they meet certain...

  11. 7 The Human Factor in Economic Affairs
    (pp. 229-262)
    George Katona

    The American economy at the beginning of the 1970’s differs greatly from that before the Second World War. The major forms of change are well known and are amply documented by aggregate statistical data compiled by governmental agencies. Although economists would emphasize different aspects of change and thus would differ in how they formulate the essence of the new developments, most would probably agree that the list given below describes some major differences between the American economy in the second half of the 1960’s and the period prior to the Second World War.

    Major Aspects of Change:

    1. Considerable improvement in...

  12. 8 Change in the American Electorate
    (pp. 263-338)
    Philip E. Converse

    By its very nature, mass political participation has left an historical record of almost unparalleled density, geographic extent, and time depth in the United States. Thus, it stands in sharpest contrast to most of the substantive areas treated in these volumes, where exactly the right data have almost never been collected, and where surrogate data of an “indicator” sort are fragmentary and subject to fierce admixtures of known or suspected measurement bias. Although there certainly are difficulties akin to “measurement problems” in the development and interpretation of historical voting statistics, as we shall see, there remains a very real sense...

  13. 9 Dimensions of Social-Psychological Change in the Negro Population
    (pp. 339-390)
    Herbert H. Hyman

    Gunnar Myrdal wrote these lines in 1962, in the Preface to the twentieth-anniversary edition ofAn American Dilemma. His words encourage those beginning similar, if smaller, endeavors in the 1970’s, who try to penetrate the obscurities of Negro-white relations and chart the course of change in the United States. Indeed, he gives special encouragement to those who would chart that future course alongsocial-psychologicalcoordinates, since his major theme, “The American Creed,” and the dynamic principle underlying his prediction, its “moral force,” fall within the domain of psychological concepts.

    But Myrdal’s example suggests that we blend caution with courage. If...

  14. 10 Monitoring the Quality of Criminal Justice Systems
    (pp. 391-440)
    Albert J. Reiss Jr.

    Crime is generally regarded as an indicator of the quality of life in a society. So much so that civilized communities invest considerable effort in monitoring the kind and level of criminal activity. Moreover, whenever there is a substantial rise in the level of crime officially monitored in a community or in the society, definitions of a “crime wave” emerge. Considerable effort then may be made to alter an assumed level of criminal activity.

    Much has been written about limitations in defining and measuring the quality of life in a society using measures of criminal violations compiled by law-enforcement agencies....

  15. 11 Aspiration, Satisfaction, and Fulfillment
    (pp. 441-466)
    Angus Campbell

    In the United States during the past decade, official rhetoric in high places has demonstrated an increasing concern with the quality of the American way of life. On revealing the first indistinct image of the Great Society in his speech at the University of Michigan in May, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson spoke of advancing “the quality of American civilization.” Subsequently, Senator Walter F. Mondale introduced into the Senate a bill designed to create a Council of Social Advisers which would report on “the state of the nation’s social health.” In 1969 President Richard Nixon announced the establishment of a National...

  16. 12 Alienation and Engagement
    (pp. 467-528)
    Melvin Seeman

    The idea of alienation has shown remarkable endurance and an embarrassing versatility. It survives despite recurring invitations to abandon the concept on varied grounds, including the fact that it explains too much by far. The invitation seems especially tempting when it is invoked to explain particular troubles and their opposites: alienation accounts, at once, for conformity and deviance, for political passivity and urban riots, for status-seeking and social retreat, for “other-directed” styles of life and the “hippie” phenomenon, for suburban malaise and do-it-yourself activism.

    The list of phenomena explained is ultimately discouraging. The critics may be right; to explain everything...

  17. Subject Index
    (pp. 529-538)
  18. Author Index
    (pp. 539-547)