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The Lonely Crowd

The Lonely Crowd

David Riesman
Nathan Glazer
Reuel Denney
Abridged and revised edition with a foreword by Todd Gitlin
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    The Lonely Crowd
    Book Description:

    The Lonely Crowdis considered by many to be the most influential book of the twentieth century. Its now-classic analysis of the "new middle class" in terms of inner-directed and other-directed social character opened exciting new dimensions in our understanding of the psychological, political, and economic problems that confront the individual in contemporary American society. The 1969 abridged and revised edition of the book is now reissued with a new foreword by Todd Gitlin that explains why the book is still relevant to our own era."As accessible as it is acute,The Lonely Crowdis indispensable reading for anyone who wishes to understand American society. After half a century, this book has lost none of its capacity to make sense of how we live."-Todd GitlinPraise for the earlier editions:"One of the most penetrating and comprehensive views of the twentieth-century urban American you're likely to find."-Commonweal"Brilliant and original."-Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17414-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xx)
    Todd Gitlin

    In an age that views books as quaint artifacts on the fringes of the entertainment business, we may find it hard to recall that books ever guided national conversations in America. Sometimes the impact on history has been direct. Upton Sinclair’s 1906 polemical novel,The Jungle, galvanized public sentiment in behalf of the Pure Food and Drug Act. In the 1960s,The Other America,Silent Spring,The Feminine Mystique, andUnsafe at Any Speedhelped the anti-poverty, environmentalist, feminist, and consumer movements get under way, and subsequent reform-minded conservative books, notably George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson’sFixing Broken...

  4. Twenty Years After—A Second Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxxii)
  5. Preface to the 1961 Edition
    (pp. xxxiii-lxxii)

    • I Some types of character and society
      (pp. 3-36)

      This is a book about social character and about the differences in social character between men of different regions, eras, and groups. It considers the ways in which different social character types, once they are formed at the knee of society, are then deployed in the work, play, politics, and child-rearing activities of society. More particularly, it is about the way in which one kind of social character, which dominated America in the nineteenth century, is gradually being replaced by a social character of quite a different sort. Why this happened; how it happened; what are its consequences in some...

    • II From morality to morale: Changes in the agents of character formation
      (pp. 37-65)

      Population curves and economic structures are only a part of the ecology of character formation. Interposed between them and the resultant social character are the human agents of character formation: the parents, the teachers, the members of the peer-group, and the storytellers. These are the transmitters of the social heritage, and they wield great influence over the lives of children and hence on the whole society. For children live at the wave front of the successive population phases and are the partially plastic receivers of the social character of the future. In this chapter we consider the changing role of...

    • III A jury of their peers: Changes in the agents of character formation (continued)
      (pp. 66-82)

      With the decline of the extended family (the type of tradition-directed family that may include uncles, aunts, cousins, and other relatives), the child is often confronted in the inner-directed home with the close oppressiveness of idealized parents. He may compete with his brothers and sisters for the parents’ favors, or to ward off their disapprobation. In theory the children in a family can unite against tyrannical parents, but, judging from the novels, it is more likely that parents divide and rule. Children in a family cannot react as a peer-group because of the age differentials among them. Consequently any given...

    • IV Storytellers as tutors in technique: Changes in the agents of character formation (continued)
      (pp. 83-108)

      Language, as we noted in the previous chapter, becomes a refined and powerful tool of the peer-group. For the insider language becomes a chief key to the currents of taste and mood that are prevalent in this group at any moment. For the outsiders, including adult observers, language becomes a mysterious opacity, constantly carrying peer-group messages which are full of precise meanings that remain untranslatable.

      When we look more closely at the use of language in the young peer-groups we see how various its aspects are. Language itself becomes a sort of consumer good. It is used neither to direct...

      (pp. 109-125)

      The oldest historical types in America, in terms of the scheme set forth in this book, are a few still partially tradition-directed people such as some of the French Canadians of the northeast, the delta Negroes, and the Mexican “wetbacks” of Texas. These groups survive from societies and social classes whose modes of conformity were etablished in a phase of high population growth potential. The next oldest type, the inner-directed, survive from the period of transitional population growth in America and abroad. They are still dominant in many regions and many occupations, even in the cities. They are also probably...

    • VI The other-directed round of life: From invisible hand to glad hand
      (pp. 126-140)

      The inner-directed person is not only chained to the endless demands of the production sphere; he must also spend his entire life in the internal production of his own character. The discomforts of this internal frontier are as inexhaustible as the discomforts of the frontier of work itself. Like the fear of being retired or unemployed in the economic realm, apathy in many sectors of his inner or outer life is felt as underemployment of characterological resources. The inner-directed man has a generalized need to master resource exploitation on all the fronts of which he is conscious. He is job-minded...

    • VII The other-directed round of life (continued): The night shift
      (pp. 141-160)

      The only thing that has changed since Tocqueville wrote (no small change, it is true) is that the sphere of pleasures has itself become a sphere of cares. Many of the physical hardships of the older frontiers of production and land use have survived in altered, psychological form on the newer one of consumption. Just as we saw in the previous chapter that the day shift of work-mindedness is invaded by glad-hand attitudes and values that stem in part from the sphere of leisure, so the night shift of leisure-mindedness is haunted by the others with whom one works at...


    • VIII Tradition-directed, inner-directed, and other-directed political styles: Indifferents, moralizers, inside-dopesters
      (pp. 163-187)

      I turn in this part of the book to an introductory effort to apply to American politics the theory of character developed in the preceding part. First, however, the problems and limitations of this sort of approach to politics must be pointed out. My general thesis is that the inner-directed character tended and still tends in politics to express himself in the style of the “moralizer,” while the other-directed character tends to express himself politically in the style of an “inside-dopester.” These styles are also linked with a shift in political mood from “indignation” to “tolerance,” and a shift in...

    • IX Political persuasions: Indignation and tolerance
      (pp. 188-205)

      The inner-directed moralizer brings to politics an attitude derived from the sphere of production. The other-directed inside-dopester brings to politics an attitude derived from the sphere of consumption. Politics is to be appraised in terms of consumer preferences. Politicians are people—and the more glamorous, the better. Moreover, in imitation of the marketplace, polices becomes a sphere in which the manner and mood of doing things is quite as important as what is done. This corresponds with the other-directed man’s tendency to put more emphasis on means than the inner-directed man did, and less emphasis on ends.

      The mass media...

    • X Images of power
      (pp. 206-224)

      There has been in the last fifty years a change in the configuration of power in America, in which a single hierarchy with a ruling class at its head has been replaced by a number of “veto groups” among which power is dispersed. This change has many complex roots and complex consequences, including the change in political mood from moralizing to tolerance. A clear-cut power structure helped to create the clarity of goals of the inner-directed; an amorphous power structure helps to create the consumer orientation of the other-directed.

      There have been two periods in American history in which a...

    • XI Americans and Kwakiutls
      (pp. 225-236)

      The image of power in contemporary America presented in the preceding chapters departs from current discussions of power which are usually based on a search for a ruling class (for instance, Burnham’s discovery of the managers, Mills’s of the labor leaders and others). And Americans themselves, rather than being the mild and cooperative people I have portrayed, are, to many observers and to themselves, power-obsessed or money-mad or concerned with conspicuous display. Or, as in the parable I shall use to illustrate my argument, Americans are felt, and feel themselves to be, more like rivalrous Kwakiutl Indian chiefs and their...


    • XII Adjustment or autonomy?
      (pp. 239-260)

      If the leaders have lost the power, why have the led not gained it? What is there about the character and the situation of the other-directed man which prevents the transfer? In terms of situation, it seems that the pattern of monopolistic competition of the veto groups resists individual attempts at aggrandizement. In terms of character, the other-directed man simply does not seek power; perhaps, rather, he avoids and evades it. If he happens to be an inside-dopester, he creates a formula that tells him where the power exists, and he seeks to make all the facts there after conform...

    • XIII False personalization: Obstacles to autonomy in work
      (pp. 261-275)

      The emotional reserves of the other-directed are the possible sources of increased autonomy. But it should be clear from the discussion of the work, the play, and the politics of the other-directed man that his reserves, while perhaps more flexible than those of the inner-directed man, are constantly exhausted by his social organization. These reserves are especially exhausted by our current cultural definitions of work and play and the relations between them—definitions which, as we saw, introduce much strenuous “play” into the glad handers’ work and much group-adjustive “work” into their play. All of us are forced, to a...

    • XIV Enforced privatization: Obstacles to autonomy in play
      (pp. 276-285)

      Because the distribution of leisure in America has been rapid as well as widespread, leisure presents Americans with issues that are historically new. At the same time part of the promise of leisure and play for the other-directed man is that it may be easier in play than in work to break some of the institutional and characterological barriers to autonomy. Play, far from having to be the residual sphere left over from work-time and work-feeling, can increasingly become the sphere for the development of skill and competence in the art of living. Play may prove to be the sphere...

    • XV The problem of competence: Obstacles to autonomy in play (continued)
      (pp. 286-303)

      Privatization as an obstacle to play can be thought of as primarily a relic of previous eras of status-dominated leisure; indeed, the immobilization of women, children, and the lower classes harks back to the earlier days of the industrial revolution. Wealth, transport, and education are the great liberators here. But we have also inherited obstacles to leisure from the puritan wing of inner-direction, which succeeded in destroying or subverting a whole historic spectrum of gregarious fun-making: sport, drama, feast days, and other ceremonial escapes. Even those ceremonies that survive, or have been newly invented, such as the Fourth of July...

    • XVI Autonomy and utopia
      (pp. 304-308)

      In these last chapters I have set forth some thoughts about the middle-class world of work and play, in the hope of finding ways in which a more autonomous type of social character might develop. I cannot be satisfied that I have moved very far along these lines. It is difficult enough to consider how we may remove the barriers of false personalization and enforced privatization. It is enormously more difficult to descry, after these barriers are overcome, what in man may lead him to autonomy, or to invent and create the means that will help him to autonomy. In...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 309-315)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 316-316)