David Riesman with Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney; Foreword by Todd Gitlin The Lonely Crowd is considered by many to be the most influential book of. The Lonely Crowd. A study of the changing. American character by David Riesman with Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney. Abridged edition with a preface. Lonely Crowd. A Study of the. Changing American Character. By. DAVID RIESMAN. IN COLLABORATION WITH. Reuel Denney and Nathan Glazer.

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Very good book that leaves you with a new look on society and looooots of questions. But we must never forget that these barriers could frequently be organized as defenses for the individual, once their flanks were turned by energy and talent, they provided the freedom in which autonomy as well as rentier complacency could flourish.

The inner directed person is the stereotype we have of the nineteenth century man of progress. Want to Read saving….

With books about social intelligence coming out every year we see a rehashing of Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people” still in print and selling well since it came out in we are all salesmen and team players if we want to get ahead. Oct 09, April Raine rated it liked it. Mar 24, Cathy Faye rated it really liked it. Finally, in the Post-War United States, Riesman saw the development — particularly amongst the urban middle and upper classes— of a sense of self that was rooted in their relationship to their peers, rather than either to tradition or inner values.

One interesting index of this is the decline of evening dress, especially among men, and conversely the invasion of the office by sport clothes. Or at least I found it to be so. Unlike the inner directed person, who is focused on truth and progress, she is not as certain what progress means. There are amusing paragraphs where the author wonders if television will ever catch on or talks about a radio show called Candid Microphone yes, the forerunner of Candid Camera — but these just add to the surprise that such conclusions could be made at the time, in the late s.

This was recommended to me during a discussion about Susan Cain’s Quiet. Market researchers know as well as anyone that their methods need not be used simply to manipulate people into buying the goods and cultural definitions that already exist or to dress them up in marginal differentiations but can be employed to find out not so much what people want but what with liberated fantasy they might want.


Politics is about identity not policy and left to professionals we merely cheer our team. Such a balance of inner and outer attitudes would steer American character away from the excesses of consumption, popularity, and “glad-handing. The changes of European societies during the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution all led away from this and toward an concepti Riesman’s central thesis is at least as relevant today as it was inwhen he first wrote it.

Particularly illuminating in developing this division is the comparison between inner and outer directed people shown in the kinds of stories they choose to tell their children. This book poses some very troubling issues for democracies — problems that are still with us and that have not gotten any easier to solve. As the civilization grows larger, values are instilled by parents and reinforced by teachers but exist like an inner “mental gyroscope” that guides the individual through choices that couldn’t be predicted by those authorities.

Of all of these classic social studies, the one that seemed most prescient was The Lonely Crowdwith the discussion of social identification s Multiple updates, below. While many of Riesman’s examples may seem dated, his concepts hold up overall.

The prediction that work and play would become increasingly difficult to differentiate was fascinating and one of a string of predictions that are more true today than could they ever have been in Seemed to me he made some assumptions about people’s familiarity with the subject.

Because most people today think abo Very good book that leaves you with a new look on society and looooots of questions. Pretty dense, dry, but amazingly prescient. Perhaps, a reexamination of this book can help shift us the right direction. Gradually an other-direction took hold, that is, the social forces of how others were living—what they consumed, what they did with their time, what their views were toward politics, work, play, and so on.

This need to fit in has consequences for how modern people go about their lives. If one applies the other-direction criteria to everyday actors as portrayed in modern culture, for example, the other-directed person is easy to identify. The age of social media has proved just how prescient this analysis is. Inner-directed people vs other-directed persons The other-directed person has no clear core of self to escape from; no clear line between production and consumption; between adjusting to the group and serving private interests; between work and play.


One can connect Riesman’s critique of conformity to Joseph Campbell’s inner-directed “follow your bliss” philosophy.

The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character

I see it in education with lots of group work and social skills emphasized and individual work which might come from inward directed virtues downplayed. Their ranking in society will be fairly commensurate with their age and experience.

Pages to import images to Wikidata Articles needing additional references from February All articles needing additional references Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from September All articles that may contain original research Articles that may contain original research from February Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Jan 23, Marius van Blerck rated it it was amazing.

Id have to say I’m a mix of each society he described so what exactly does that make my society?

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. View all 5 comments. Aug 01, William rated it really liked davkd Shelves: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future.

The Lonely Crowd – Wikipedia

I’m going to have to come loneky to this one at a later time. Riesman basically calls for a balance of inner- and other-directed attitudes. To ask other readers questions about The Lonely Crowdplease sign up.

Riesman is riesmxn an easy writer. The problem with this happening in humans is that the worry over production concentrates us on the material world and its consequent attention to science and engineering.

The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character by David Riesman

Riesman’s theory is an excellent complement to the more familiar Jungian concepts of introversion and extroversion that Cain discusses. Jun 23, Trevor rated it really liked it Recommended to Trevor by: The increasing ability to consume goods and afford material abundance was accompanied by a shift away from tradition to inner-directedness.

And the many crises facing humanity in the coming decades make this an especially inopportune time for such a transformation. The changes of European societies during the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and Industrial Crowr all led away from this and toward an conception of self-identity rooted in an interior framework established early in life by their parents.

Riesman’s research sample is based on the Northeast and the middle to upper classes.