The Neglected Element in "The Lonely Crowd"
Ort: Alte Jakobstr. 12 / Ecke Ritterstr. (Tiyatrom Theater), 10969 Berlin
In his talk, Dr. Amirhosein Khandizaji deals with the famous American sociologist David Riesman, who was very influential in the USA in in the decades following World War II.
When we hear David Riesman’s name, we immediately remember his well-known book The Lonely Crowd, written with Nathan Glazer and Reuel Denney and published in 1950 by Yale University Press. In a short time, the book was so well-received by academics and even mainstream readers that it sold over 500,000 copies in 1954. This level of enthusiasm surprised not only the critics and intellectuals but also the publisher and even authors of The Lonely Crowd. The book turned Riesman into a famous sociologist among academics and intellectuals. Time magazine put Riesman’s photo on its front page in 1954. In this book, Riesman recognizes three types of social character: tradition-directed, inner-directed, and other-directed. These types are distinguished according to the source which individuals use to determine their orientation and goals.
Almost all the existing studies on The Lonely Crowd focus on Riesman’s ideas about different types of social character and the societies based on them. But in Dr. Khandizaji’s opinion, this part of the book is less significant than the last part which deals with the concept of autonomy. In contrast to most of the postwar sociologists who held a pessimistic view and merely criticized existing conditions instead of giving a concrete solution, Riesman tried to show a way through which one can reach autonomy.
Attention: This talk and the subsequent discussion will be held in English.
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Dr. Khandizaji’s interests include the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, Consumer Society, Semiotics, and Hyperreality. His most recent book is “Baudrillard and the Culture Industry: Returning to the First Generation of the Frankfurt School” (Springer, 2017).