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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 31, No. 4 (Winter 1964)

The ideas of mass society and mass culture are not confined to social thought, but correspond to a mood and vision in contemporary literature, philosophy, and the arts. “Mass society” is one of the more familiar terms in the sociological vocabulary, yet its reception by sociologists is anything but uniform.

The sociological theory of political pluralism--multiple group membership as the basis for the stability of a democratic society--has an honorable lineage and an impressive array of contemporary supporters. The group, and the norms and values emanating from it, are the center of the theory. Both the conception of power, as found in political science, and the role of material wants, as found in economic theory are minimized.

The author of the Tenth number of The Federalist regarded the conflict of interests as necessary and inevitable incident of government. This conflict was rooted in the differing conditions of men. It might be suppressed under a tyranny but it could be at best controlled and moderated under a free government… The representation of interests has been used to resolve the conflict of interests and out of the proceduralized conflict of interests it has been hoped that policy bearing some resemblance to the public interest would emerge.

In recent years American sociologists have shown a growing interest in comparative analysis of the institutions of complex societies. Comparative studies, were indeed, one of the earliest preoccupations of the sociological pioneers, for they recognized clearly that one can best understand a given institutional structure by comparing it with others. However, in their cross-cultural comparisons, sociologists have too often been tempted to draw upon anthropological materials from non-literate societies. The study of institutional variations within a context of close cultural similarity is likely to be more fruitful than comparisons from widely differing cultures where the general divergences are so great that given variations can be explained in several different ways.

Recent strikes involving work rules and the continuing pressures of advancing automation have led students of industrial relations to re examine an old and contentious issue that arises at the place of work: changing workers’ working rules and the allegedly wasteful practices they protect. A fruitful approach to the understanding of this problem is to examine the shop origins and development of work practices as activities encompassed and explained by the theory of the firm.

Review of book by Guenter Roth. The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany. Totowa, NJ: Bedminster Press, 1963. 352 pp.

Review of book by Franklin Frazier. New York: Schocken Books, 1963. 104 pp.

Review of book by Aaron Wildavsky. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1964 216 pp.

Review of book edited by Ruth T. McVey. Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University, New Haven: Human Relations Area Files Press, 1963. 600 pp.

Review of book by George Kateb. Glencoe, IL.: The Free Press, 1963. 244 pp.

Review of book edited by Jean Cuisenier. Paris and The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1963.

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