A Note on Riesman's the Lonely Crowd

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  A Note on Riesman's The Lonely CrowdAuthor(s): Rudolf HeberleSource: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Jul., 1956), pp. 34-36Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 12/10/2014 15:25 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  .  . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  . The University of Chicago Press  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  American Journal of Sociology. This content downloaded from on Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:25:20 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  A NOTE ON RIESMAN'S THE LONELY CROWD RUDOLF HEBERLE ABSTRACT Riesman's theory, relating three types of directedness to phases in the growth of population, is criti- cized, and it is suggested that other-directedness be linked to migratory mobility rather than to incipient population decline. David Riesman's three categories of directedness are nearly identical with Max Weber's types of orientation of social action: traditional, value rational (Ries- man's inner-directed ), and purposive rational (zweckrationacl). Riesman's first category is precisely what Max Weber means by traditional orienta- tion. 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. The other- directed person chooses a given way of acting because he is anxious to receive the approval of others-this is, at least, one kind of purposive-rational conduct. Ries- man emphasizes that his concepts are con- structs, types; that a person can be more or less inner- or other-directed (he is little con- cerned with tradition, for reasons to be dis- cussed later), and that people cannot be pigeonholed in these categories. In other words, his concepts are meant as ideal types-and so are Max Weber's. Around these concepts, Riesman builds a theory of history. In this respect, he differs from Weber. The latter was certainly con- cerned about the increasing rationalization of society and culture; he was sharply aware of the disenchantment (Entzauberung) of the world; but he did not risk the attempt, inevitably futile, of constructing periods of history on the basis of psychological cate- gories. Riesman's theorem soon gets him into trouble, from which he tries to escape by conceding that even in our age of other- directedness there is still room for inner- directed people; that, in fact, the other- directed personalities are still the exception, occurring most frequently in the metropoli- tan upper-middle classes, while rural and provincial city people are still, as a rule, tradition- or inner-directed. The weakest part of Riesman's theory is his effort to link his three types of directedness with the three major phases of population move- ment. In fairness, we must admit that Ries- man introduces his theorem with modesty and caution: Let me point out . . . that I am not concerned here with making the de- tailed analysis that would be necessary before one could prove that a link exists between population phase and character type. ' He intends to use the curve of popula- tion (sic) theory as a kind of shorthand for such words as industrialism, folk society, monopoly capitalism, urbani- zation, rationalization, and so on.2 Since every one of these terms in his shorthand denotes a different problem-complex, Ries- man might have achieved more convincing results by discarding hem. Despite the reservations, he believes in the existence of a link between popula- tion phases and his character types which detailed analysis would expose. Riesman does not specify whether the link is of a causal nature, a functional relationship, or whether it is merely co- incidence in time; however, his phrasing suggests an indirect causal relationship; the society of transitional population growth, develops in its typical members a social 1 The Lonely Crowd (Anchor Books edition), p. 23. 2 Ibid. 34 This content downloaded from on Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:25:20 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  REISMAN'S THE LONELY CROWD 35 character whose conformity is insured by their tendency to acquire early in life an internalized set of goals. . . the society of incipient population decline develops in its typical members a social character whose conformity is insured by their tendency to be sensitized to the expectations and prefer- ences of others. . . . How this comes about, we are not told; presumably the explanation is reserved for the detailed analysis. A causal connection, or any kind of link, would presuppose some degree of co-ordination n time of the two phenomena. Riesman lets the phase of transitional population growth in the West begin in the seventeenth century. It would have been more correct to put it a hundred years later; in any case, the age of inner-directed- ness which we usually designate as the age of individualism was well under way since the fifteenth century, as manifested in the Renaissance and in the Reformation. Riesman's phase of incipient population decline began about 1878-if not earlier, as in France. In other words, it began when the inner-directed characters in the urban upper and middle classes had their heyday. They were the very first to resort to effective and more or less methodical contraception. Obviously somehow Riesman's periodiza- tions do not fit the facts. To pursue the argument further would go beyond the scope of this note. Riesman could, however, have linked his other- directed type to the demographic phe- nomenon of migratory mobility. He could have shown how migration may affect the structure of a society as well as the system of values and norms, i.e., the codes of con- duct.4 This we shall presently explain. But first we must consider a hypothesis which reverses Riesman's postulates, i.e., the possibility that changes in values and atti- tudes may influence the pattern of popula- tion growth. The rapid population increase in the West can be regarded, in part, as made possible by the increasing emancipation of Western man from traditionalistic codes of conduct and from the social bonds of Gemeinschaft. t is also fairly obvious that the new attitudes of rationalism and individualism which characterize Riesman's inner-directed ype facilitated the adop- tion of contraceptive practices and thus initiated the phase of incipient population decline.' Less evident is the relation between Riesman's other-directedness and the population movement. Frankly, I cannot see how this character type could be either the product or a causal factor of the phase of incipient population decline, except that the urge to live up to the standard of living of one's social stratum may be an important motive in resorting to birth control. But, on the other hand, I can see very clearly a causal connection between other-directed- ness and migratory mobility and vertical social mobility. We may consider first the latter. The fear to be conspicuous Ries- man, p. 105), to appear unconventional or old-fashioned, the strong urge to conform to certain standards of overt be- havior, the dependence or approval by one's peer group-these are very striking characteristics of American middle-class people. It is also most likely that this other-directedness has become more pre- dominant in recent decades, because the proportion of people who are dependent upon employment by others (the white- collar workers) has increased in the middle classes. This, of course, is true also of Europe where other-directedness is not so striking. The difference between Europe and the United States is probably that a much larger proportion of white-collar workers in the United States has risen socially from the classes of manual workers, in- cluding farmers, and are newcomers to urban middle-class society. Feeling inse- cure, like most newcomers, hey are anxious 3 Ibid. 4 R. Heberle, Uber die Mobilitdt der Bevilkerung in den Vereinigten Staaten (Jena: G. Fischer Verlag, 1929). 5 R. Heberle, Social Factors of Birth Control, American Sociological Review, IX (1941), 794-805. This content downloaded from on Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:25:20 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  36 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY to conform and in the desire to rise further, or to see their children rise, they increase their efforts. Migration and migratory mobility are other factors. They probably have much greater weight in the United States than in Europe. There can be no doubt about the extremely high migratory mobility among middle-class people in the United States. Even the sample reports of the United States Bureau of the Census, which by no means cover all migratory movements, show an astounding frequency of moving between one community and another. The relation between migratory mobility and conformity due to other-directedness can be arrived at by theoretical reasoning. Let us compare a society in which people tend to stay for generations in the same community or region with one in which they move frequently in their own lifetime and their migrations cover large distances. In the latter society, a large proportion in each community will be newcomers, strangers (Simmel) to each other. One does not know from what kind of family one's neighbors or one's colleagues come, or to what social class their parents be- longed, or what they themselves have done in the past. They cannot be placed in a familiar social category except by observing and evaluating their manifest conduct or overt behavior. No wonder, then, that under these conditions everybody desires to appear at his best and to win the ap- proval of others by conforming to the ob- servable standards. In a society with low migratory mobility, people are known to one another for longer periods of time and not only as individuals but also as members of kinship groups and of social sets with local prestige and estab- lished reputations. Their idiosyncrasies and eccentricities are known and often taken for granted. The pressure to conform is not as strong as in a society of high migra- tory mobility. This applies especially to members of the prominent families who can afford to engage in a certain measure of non-conformist conduct without damage to their prestige. In the United States we find approximations of this society in New England and in the Deep South, and it is here, according to literary sources and my own observation, that pressure for con- formity in the upper middle classes is not by far as strong as, for example, in the Middle West. LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY This content downloaded from on Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:25:20 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

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