Page images
PDF
EPUB

norms. The classical or Schumpeterian concept of the entrepreneur implies too lonely a character to fit other knowledge of patterned social conduct. Weber's Protestant was at least committed to God.

Consumer commitment. The development of consumer commitment or the general principles of consumer behavior have shaky theoretical foundations in social science literature. Various forms of preference analysis, including "indifference curves," have been developed as analytical models in economics, but it is perhaps not unfair to say that the models have virtually no empirical foundation. On the other hand, sociologists have gone little beyond Veblen's "conspicuous consumption": emphasis on status symbols, orientation toward peer groups, and household budget allocations as indicative of relative position and "needs" within the family.

These theoretical difficulties are encountered when one asks what conditions would predispose persons in an underdeveloped area to accept a commodity market system. Many economists assume virtually unlimited wants, which would make the acceptance of buying opportunities automatic (although limited means would still require the analysis of relative values of particular products). Many sociologists, on the contrary, would assume strictly limited wants, largely supplied by particularistic exchanges, and in any event conditioned by the standards of consumption appropriate to relatively fixed social positions. Some middle course is no doubt more nearly correct. It almost appears that the sociologists have a sounder theoretical position by inference from known principles of social behavior; the economists have crude empirical confirmation in the rapid expansion of "materialistic" standards. However this controversy may be resolved, it appears that acceptability of "consumer" orientations (in the technical sense) will be relative to the degree and form of prior exchange relations. Thus a functionally specific barter system, money-mediated barter, or even limited monetary markets will predispose to market expansion and commercialization, whereas a purely village-bound form of particularistic exchanges will not. Descriptive studies of newly developing areas reveal many interesting transitional forms, such as the commercial purchase of cattle for the bride-price. Clearly a major predisposing condition for commercial exchange is the transformation of agricultural and handicraft producers into wage employments. As employees they are virtually barred from traditional barter arrangements, and virtually forced into the technical role of consumers. Thus the industrial worker, whose commitment is a primary concern here, may himself be a major agency

in the development of "consumership." It may also be assumed that recognized but unsatisfied material wants or needs and any prior acquisitive orientations will precondition the development of market commitment.

Formal education and urban migration clearly constitute major elements in exposure and cognitive socialization toward the market system. But in the market itself one finds advertising in the broadest sense, as information and persuasion, appeals to real or alleged needs, wants, and aspirations that are status appropriate. Since status is partially symbolic, symbol manipulation may be used to enhance status.

In this particular connection the family is not external to the market in the same sense that education and urban residence are; the family is the typical unit of consumption and of buying decisions. Thus it serves not only as a primary agent of cognitive and affective socialization, but as a major source of maintenance of motivation. The family's budgetary and market behavior is in turn oriented to its reference groups (both situs and status) and to those of its individual members (which may differ markedly in a rapidly changing social system), as well as to collective and individual needs more internal to the family unit. Indeed, the changing kinship structure accompanying economic development often poses tensions and value conflicts precisely with reference to budgets and consumption patterns, including the obligations of breadwinners for support of others. Intergenerational conflict on these issues is very common, and marital conflict by no means unknown. It cannot be said that the relation of the family as consumer to other familial economic and social functions has been clearly settled in any industrialized society. It appears probable that it is the importance of family functions, including budgetary ones, and the tensions surrounding them, rather than the "loss" of functions, that accounts for family instability in industrial societies. Certainly for the socialization, including adult socialization, appropriate to market commitment in a newly developing area, the structure of the family is as critical as the influence of marketing practices themselves.

4 THE SOCIETY

Arnold S. Feldman
Wilbert E. Moore

To the extent that an industrial system may be viewed as functionally integrated, involvement in industrial work and a market economy leads sooner or later to involvement in a variety of other groups and aspects of society that are novel in comparison with the social structure of preindustrial societies. The organization of the following discussion implies “broadening spheres" of social activity extending outward from the work place. This is a possible pattern in both causal and sequential terms, although not the only observed sequence of involvement. Thus any simple theory of economically determined change is rejected, whether on the grand scale of institutional dominance or the small scale of adult socialization via work. Yet the temporal patterns are certainly not random.

MAJOR INSTITUTIONAL COMPLEXES

Attention is centered here on the institutional order of society, and particularly on certain major functional complexes, their associated norms, and various common orientations and integrative norms. Groups are treated primarily as concrete structures that are predominantly related to a major functional complex. For example, kinship systems comprise families as well as other patterned social relationships; social stratification is partly manifested in unions and other occupational groups and partially implemented by educational systems; political systems comprise, among other things, governmental structures and parties; common orientations in social systems are implemented by education, religious affiliation, and many other agencies of socialization.

The organization used here tends to understate the possible importance of some voluntary and some recreational and ephemeral associations. One reason for the neglect is that their action patterns hypothetically are of a low order of requirement in the social structure and in the "full" commitment of the social participant, although of course some such groups-and indeed any group, pattern of action, or value

orientation-may be of high or virtually exclusive salience for some participants. Such "distortions" cannot be generalized, however, without gross social imbalance.

The typological actor is ordinarily oriented primarily toward concrete structures, with a low order of cognition or recognized commitment to the broader institutional framework. However, in the transitional process that is our primary analytic concern, underlying values and norms are likely to become overt, precisely because their translation into action patterns reveals the conflict between the new and the traditional beliefs and practices.

Structural Interdependence

The problems and processes of commitment provide a consistent frame of reference for many aspects of changes in social systems associated with economic transformation. If functional interdependence of social systems is again assumed, the thread may be traced through the entire fabric. The paths so pursued are likely to be tedious, however, and considerable parts of the design may be seen in overly minute perspective. It seems preferable to note that important changes in social structure are essentially left out of account by our concern with commitment. Thus various ecological, demographic, and even technological and economic factors are viewed as "conditions" from this limiting viewpoint. The justification for this exclusion may be restated: these variables rarely operate directly with reference to occupational acts and norms, except possibly at policy-forming political and administrative levels. A few illustrations of indirect influence will suffice both to establish the connectedness of social systems and the minor importance of various "conditions" from the perspective of commitment:

When ecological patterns refer to urbanization or the city, it is clear that the latter may be the site of social transformation, but also possibly even an agency of socialization or locus of commitment, as noted in Chapter 3 with reference to labor markets. More commonly, however, relevance is situational rather than central.

Demographic changes are probably of primary importance in connection with allocation of resources, that is, the standard "problem" of the relation of population size and growth to the means for support. However, mortality conditions may affect the attractiveness of occupations in terms of both risks and vacancies. Likewise, low upper-class fertility rates may augment the accessibility of privileged positions. Technological changes patently alter general occupational structures,

particular employment opportunities, and demands for various skills. Economic patterns and policies such as currency stability, interest rates, and tariffs affect investors and managers and, indirectly, the conditions and opportunities affecting employment throughout the economy.

In sum, consideration of social structure as a locus of commitment is limited here both by the selection of particular segments of social systems for attention and by the concern with the actor in transitional situations, but there is no implication of abandonment of concern with changes in societies as systems. Rather, in the treatment of major functional complexes, the emphasis is precisely on the interrelations of the various specific loci of commitment. Thus, it is the general function of the institutional order of societies to provide norms of conduct in specific contexts, and consistent both with general values and with the appropriate claims of other social structures. Economic, political, social status, and kinship structures intersect with reference to common values, by rules governing the relations among substructures of societies, and by virtue of common membership, which in turn requires appropriate role behavior on the part of the individual.

Reinforcement of Activities

There are two conflicting hypotheses concerning differential commitment and participation. The commonly accepted one may be summarized as the principle of "frustration and diverted activity." According to this principle, the frustrations inherent in specialized work and possibly other roles lead to the search for alternative modes of expression, representation of interest, or reform. The second is the doctrine of "differential level of positive affect," according to which both dissatisfactions and satisfactions are mutually reinforcing, and thus individuals' levels of participation and involvement are generalized rather than compensatory. Although this second view is rarely expressed in the literature, it is represented in the aphorism that "Nothing succeeds like success," which implies the corollary that "Nothing fails like failure." If this position is correct, it has clear implications for the interdependence of roles in social systems.

We believe that commitments to the several contexts are mutually reinforcing and thus that the loci must be interrelated appropriately for the successful development of an industrial society. This means that the commitment process involves learning and performing the acts and norms that constitute the relations among the loci as much as it involves learning and performing the acts and norms specific to the individual

« PreviousContinue »