Thursday, July 26, 2018

the lonely crowd

David Riesman, 1950, The Lonely Crowd:  A Study of the Changing American Character Type
Riesman, D. (1950). The lonely crowd. New Haven: Yale University Press.

type of social character; social personality

observable behavior of individuals as they related to society in its various stages of economic

American middle class. The culture of the working class is ignored
even though he is dealing with a nineteenth century society that was largely agricultural, he limits his attention almost entirely to urban life

Reisman recounted the work habits, the political style, and even the child-rearing habits of each of his "types."

the historical transition from the "inner-directed" to the "other-directed" personality

"the way in which one kind of social character, which dominated America in the nineteenth century is gradually replaced by a social character of quite a different sort

Riesman sees Americans of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries differing to the degree they are
dominated by inner- or other-direction

a change through time in the American character.The inner-directed personality dominated the nineteenth century and the other-directed has increasingly dominated the twentieth.

lament for the decline of the firm moral commitments and unyielding idealism of the inner-directed
character type.

the nuclear family is seen as having lost ground as the prime agency of socialization to nursery and primary schools, to schools of all kinds in later childhood and adolescence, to mass media beamed directly into the home, and most of all, to the peer group of the child's age-mates, increasingly encountered at an ever earlier age in the organized settings of play groups, schools, and summer camps.--these changes were at least in part the effects of more distant and impersonal social forces--large-scale "structural trends,"

Three different forms of sanctions for deviant behaviour correspond to Riesman’s three types of societies and characters: shame for the tradition directed, guilt for the inner directed and anxiety for the other-directed. Coercion and communal pressures of shame ensure conformity in traditional societies. Internalized guilt keeps the inner direction character in line with social expectations.
The need to be “liked” and a diffuse anxiety is the “prime psychological lever” operating on the “other-directed person” living in a society dominated by media messages and the constant pressures for conformity enforced by the inescapable pressure of “a jury of his peers.

throughout the book Mr. Riesman professes to make no moral judgment as between the inner-directed
and the other-directed.

1. tradition-directed type

  • the primitive socially based individual
  • a person guided and channeled in his activities and thought by his society; simply because things have always been done in a given way they should still be performed that way
  • Tradition-directed man has played little part in America because the colonies were settled only after the emergence of the inner-directed man.
  • in the tradition-directed home,  the child "propitiates" its parents
  • Human beings with “tradition directed” characters live in societies with a low level of individualism and strong ties to primary groups. Society is held together by belief systems based on religion, magic and tradition. The conformity of an individual to a social role, “tends to reflect his membership in a particular age-grade, clan, or caste” and he “learns to understand and appreciate patterns which have endured for centuries,” . The tradition directed character has, for Riesman, all but disappeared in modern American society,
  • The tradition-directed, unaware of the possibility of choice, conforms unquestioningly to well-established routines and attitudes
  • a social character whose conformity is insured by their tendency to follow tradition, tradition-directed people
  • the society in which they live-- a society dependent on tradition-direction

During the era of the Renaissance and Reformation, he writes, there was a transition from the tradition-directed man to the inner-directed

2. the "inner-directed" man 

  • the nineteenth century person who had a clear personal moral code and fixed objectives that he pursued
  • In the nineteenth century, the ruling social character of people was inner direction
  • self-reliant, self-confidence, clear about his goals and objects in life. 
  • innerdirected person of the nineteenth century pursued clear acquisition and consumption goals with a fierce individualism
  • Seventeenth-century Puritans are the classic examples of inner-directed persons
  • outwardly energetic, tough-minded, self-determined, yet inwardly concerned with moral renovation
  • was concerned with production
  • The "inner-directed" person follows his moral gyroscope in the pursuit of goals which he perceives as valuable because his inner voice tells him they are.
  • rationalism and individualism which characterize Riesman's "inner-directed" type 
  • The inner-directed character is guided by standards internalized in early childhood, by generalized values and ideals
  • a built-in psychological gyroscope that orients the inner-directed character
  • Social conformity is ensured for “inner directed” social characters by “a tendency to acquire early in life an internalized set of goals” (Riesman [1950] 1961: 8) and a “psychological gyroscope.” As Riesman describes this process, “the source of direction for the individual is “inner” in the sense that it is implanted early in life by the elders and directed toward generalized but nonetheless inescapably destined goals” (Riesman [1950] 1961:15). Set in early life, the gyroscope keeps the person “on course” and “capable of maintaining a delicate balance between demands upon him of his life goals and the buffetings of his external environment” (Riesman [1950] 1961:16)
  • The inner-directed thinks of himself as the master of his fate. He does not reject the principle of authority, but has been taught to create within himself its mechanism. There has been built into him, in Mr. Riesman's phrase, a gyroscope, which enables him, while preserving his inescapable destiny of choice, to maintain the balance between self-aggrandizement and social morality.
  • The inner-directed is typically a producer
  • The inner-directed uses politics to achieve his goals. One remnant of the inner-directed, seeing politics captured by manipulators, have lost their sense of effectiveness and are in danger of becoming Fascist totalitarians. A few are still optimistic (League of Women Voters, Readers of the Herald Tribune, Americans for Democratic Action). A transitional stage is the inside dopester, pleased with his knowledge of things political and his access to the fixers, but without conviction.
  • a social character whose conformity is insured by their tendency to acquire early in life an internalized set of goals
  • inner-directed people; the society in which they live is a society dependent on inner-direction

  • They tend to feel, throughout life that their characters are something to be worked on
  • Because they derive the justification for their actions from within themselves (hence the term inner-directed), loneliness and even persecution are not thought of as the worst of fates.
  • Parents, sometimes even teachers may have crushing moral authority, but the peer-group has less moral weight, glamorous or menacing though it may be.
  • the inner-directed p personality is individualistic and self-reliant
  • decisive, ruthless, brusque, self-confident
  • more concerned with production than consumption, more with things than with people.
  • It was the product itself that commanded attention
  • The economy of the nineteenth century was "quite loose-jointed and impersonal and perhaps seemed even more impersonal than it actually was
  • It was the involvement with things, instead of people, which underlay the pervasive impersonality of the nineteenth century
  • business firms until World War I, needed only three kinds of professional advice: legal, auditing, and engineering. --- impersonal services
  • The inner-directed person of the nineteenth century was job-minded and clear about his goals
  • because his standards were internal, failure for the inner-directed man was possible without feelings of total inadequacy--trying again and again
  • Work was hard, important and different from play
  • The inner-directed businessman was not expected to have fun; indeed, it was proper for him to be gloomy and even grim; literature and other forms of entertainment were escapes from work and problems
  • in the inner-directed home, the child fights or succumbs to parents
  • school instructions emphasize intellectual activities and there was little emotional involvement for teacher or pupil.
  • The teacher is supposed to see that the children learn a curriculum, not that they enjoy it or learn group cooperation. 
  • As befits a society bent upon production,  the whole emphasis is on accomplishment and not on "internal group relations," or morale
  • Men were not under constant public scrutiny then as they are today and consequently they could be more themselves
  • The inner-directed person reading a book alone, is less aware of the others looking on;   moreover he has time to return at his own pace from being transported by his reading-to return and put on whatever mask he cares to.
3. the "other-directed" man 

  • who looks to others for clues on how to live, especially on how to consume and spend his leisure
  • the other-directed man cannot escape and so he uses popular culture for group adjustment
  • in the other-directed home, a child manipulates his parents and is in turn manipulated
  • self-restraint placed on the exercise of power
  • oriented toward the consumer
  • boom in advertising
  • The "other directed person" chooses a given way of acting because he is anxious to receive the approval of others
  • other-directed character is more sensitive to the immediate social setting than to the echoes in his or her head of parental injunctions long ago. 
  • The other directed person is both more attuned to and more tolerant of the feelings, wishes, and expectations of other people encountered in the diverse situations of daily life. 
  • Riesman used the metaphor of a radar screen scanning the surrounding environment to describe the other-directed person who adapts his or her responses to signals from the existing social situation.
  • “Other directed” individuals are not tied to either tradition or an internalized gryoscope. Conformity instead is ensured by people’s “tendency to be sensitized to the expectations and preferences of others” (Riesman [1950] 1961: 8) and a “radar” that clues the individual into the signals of contemporaries “known to him or those with whom he is indirectly acquainted, through friends and through the mass media” (Riesman [1950] 1961: 21
  • The rise of big bureaucracies employing an increasing proportion of the labor force in white-collar jobs, technical advances bringing about a shift from the production of material goods to the provision of services, the concentration of the population in urban and metropolitan areas spreading beyond established city boundaries--these are the major trends Riesman associated with the rise of the other-directed character and other-directed values in various areas of our culture including politics, the mass media, children's books, and consumption habits.\
  • relating of changes at the level of everyday life (in personal and family relations, school and work routines, and leisure pursuits) to the larger, vaster economic and demographic transformations of advanced capitalism; the linkage between "micro-" and "macro-levels" of social reality 
  • other-direction had its virtues--tolerance,flexibility, personal warmth
  • The other-directed person prefers love to glory," in Riesman's words, as well as cooperation to competition; his or her outlook is clearly more group centered than individualistic, while tolerant of deviance and cultural variation
  • The other-directed person prefers love to glory," in Riesman's
  • words, as well as cooperation to competition; his or her outlook is
  • clearly more group centered than individualistic, while tolerant of deviance and cultural variation
  • other-direction quickly became identified with the imputed mindless conformity and gullibility of "mass man," with hypocritical-if unconscious--pretensions to sincerity and intimacy in even the most casual of personal relations, with a chameleonlike adaptability to any company one was presently keeping, suggesting an inner emptiness and lack of true convictions.
  • a concern for “niceness,” not achievement, leisure not competition and “consumerism” not production.
  • complete and ultimate political apathy of the other-directed.
  • Modern parents and teachers are anxiety ridden as their authority over children and students has been undermined by the media, youth culture and a rapid social change that creates a situation where the “other-directed child is often more knowing than his parents.”
  • schools in an other directed society will teach getting along more than getting smart and educated, manipulation comes to dominate parent/child relations as well as the work environment, and consumerism enforced by peer pressure dominates culture, leisure activities and popular narratives. 
  • The media and eventually higher education and politics will suffer from what Riesman called “false personalization” where the boundaries between the personal and political become blurred and inauthentic emotions dominate public life
  • The other-directed, the emerging man, already here in large numbers, particularly among the upper middle classes, is constantly anxious for the good opinion of his "peer-group." The inner-directed is typically a producer; the other-directed is typically a consumer. We are becoming a nation of consumers. Taste is our byword
  • a social character whose conformity is insured by their tendency to be sensitized to the expectations and preferences of others; other-directed people, the society in which they live is dependent on other-direction  

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