American Notes: Revisiting the Crowd

As depicted in The Lonely Crowd 19 years ago, Americans were all too well adjusted to the gray-flannel goals of "success." That is no longer so. David Riesman, who wrote the book with two colleagues and added its title to the American idiom, now finds that after two decades "the earlier tendency toward glib self-satisfaction" has been succeeded by "an atmosphere of what seems to me extravagant self-criticism."

Writing in Encounter, Sociologist Riesman argues that the children of the lonely crowd—whether protesting the war or campaigning for Eugene McCarthy—reject adjustment to the mores of their affluent elders as "immoral compromise."...

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