By Robert Staughton Lynd
Contents: Foreword ix; I. Social technology in difficulty 1; II. the concept that of "Culture" eleven; III. The development of yank tradition fifty four; IV. The Social Sciences as instruments 114; V. Values and the Social Sciences one hundred eighty; VI. a few Outrageous Hypotheses 202; Index 251
Originally released in 1939.
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Additional info for Knowledge for What: The Place of Social Science in American Culture
What a social scientist deals with, therefore, is not a unit institution carried evenly by all persons, similarly learned in and responding to the in stitution in question. The problems that social science wrestles with derive to an important extent from the fact that different individuals and masses of individuals react differently to supposedly common institutions. The viewing of culture as the behavior of individuals is important because it helps to counteract the over-easy acceptance of the officially promulgated norms (legal and "right" ways of doing things) or of assumed central tendencies (usual or most frequent ways of doing things) as the operating reality of an institution.
Here the concept of cultural relativism has done immense damage, indeed as great ranted to a certain extent: the culture and the persons who live by it are different conceptual foci, and it is important to study culture-as-such and ,persons-as-such; and culture patently does things to persons in a highly coercive way, the culture of a metropolitan city, for instance, having a momentum qua culture to which most persons find it neces sary to bend and adapt in order to survive in such a city. But the trouble comes for the social scientist when, in grappling with the monopolizing immediacies of his problem, he forgets that these useful conceptual dis criminations are only true to a certain extent, as method ological tools—when he begins to accept them neat, with out qualification.
A latent motive becomes active when, through external or internal stimulus, the individual finds himself on a tensional "hot spot"; it consists in a direc tional orientation to getting off that spot by a line of action associated with satisfaction in his experience. Out of such unique networks of motives, the culture con stantly acquires the standard sanctioned and tabooed direc tional orientations it exhibits. Thus we get the patterned tendencies in our own culture toward growing rich, belong ing to the right clubs, living in the right neighborhood, knowing the right people, being regarded as a person with a nice sense of humor, winning one's letter in football, being the most popular girl at a dance, and so on through the infinite number of big and little "right" and "wrong" ways of behaving that give dynamic patterning to our culture.
Knowledge for What: The Place of Social Science in American Culture by Robert Staughton Lynd