The Lonely Crowd Book Review

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David Riesman studied the post World War 2 society during his time. His study involved looking at the socialization of a person within groups, settings and periods of time. In the first chapter of his book, "The Lonely Crowd", he defines social character as part of a society's "mode of conformity" In other words; the way a person is socially characterized is based on the way he or she is influenced. Riesman analyzes those influences and breaks them down into categories. He feels that the mode of conformity in society at his time is detrimental to a persons pure individual character and has causes many new problems within the society.

Riesman used demography to help breakdown is studies. He looked at the birth and death rates of Western society and presented the S-shape theory. He breaks the curve into three phases. The first phase represents a society where the total population does not increase and the birth and death rate is very high. Life expectancy is low and the turnover of generations is "rapid" This phase is labeled to have a "high growth potential" When the society goes through progressive changes that help with increasing the life expectancy, then it develops into a "transitional growth" period. When a society falls back into a population decline this phase becomes known as "incipient population decline"

In the first chapter Riesman creates three modes of conformity that a society holds within these three phases. The mode which he calls traditional direction occurs during the "high growth" period. His conformity definition known as inner-direction is present during the "transitional growth" period and his concept of other-direction conformity comes out of the "incipiency population decline" period. Riesman's believes that the traditional directed person is someone who lives in a communal structure where there is a common goal or traditional expectations of behavior. An inner-directed person is someone is highly influenced by their parents and...
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