Sociology And The Community

Sociology And The Community

THE ECLIPSE OF COMMUNITY, by Maurice R. Stein. Princeton University Press. 1960.

The Eclipse of Community is a reasoned manual of important American community studies of the past fifty years. One of its great merits is how it implicitly tells the history of half a century by paraphrasing what the successive sociologists have tended to emphasize—from the urban dislocation in the Chicago studies, through the industrial and class conflicts of Middletown and Yankee City, to the suburbanism of Park Forest and Crestwood Heights. As new problems emerge, older ones are paid less attention; but the older ones were not really solved, so there is a deepening crisis; and I guess this is what Professor Stein means by his title.

The book is always interesting and informative, and often lovely. Then reading it, and especially finishing reading it, I am at a loss how (it seems to me) sociology makes itself stupid, by the limitations it sets to its inquiry. It is not that the sociologists try to be “scientific” and avoid evaluation. On the contrary, Professor Stein not only probes but evaluates—the criteria are not always explicit—class relations, production and consumption attitudes, conformity and deviation, g...

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