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from a summary measure of its component individuals. This is the familiar problem of the relations between the distribution of a set of scale scores and a measure of their central tendency. Again, given an adequate sample and sufficient caution on the part of the investigator, the difficulties are surmountable. For example, even if it is not feasible to predict for the labor force as a whole, predictions may be made for relatively homogeneous substrata of the labor force, if the sample has been adequately stratified. This technical problem is related to the theoretical one involved in the use of differing criteria of performance in various sectors of the labor force. This subject is touched on at a number of points in this volume, but without final resolution. The fact is that it is easier to analyze the general problems of commitment—and that is difficult enough-than the differential ones.

In our discussion the individual to whom commitment processes and results are attributed is thus a typological representative of a social system in process of change: change brought about largely by the transformation of representative individual actions and beliefs.


The growth and diffusion of the desire for a common minimum level of living is an outstanding feature of the postwar world. In a sense, for perhaps the first time in the history of the modern world a universal goal is gradually evolving. Even in cultures traditionally based on a normative system that emphasizes otherworldliness, the desire for change for the better in this world is constantly increasing. Further, the desire for such change has itself become a spiritual force of great importance in these areas of the world.1

Development as End and Means

The type and degree of change needed can be understood in part through examination of the desired goal. Although it may be impossible to state in detail the specific content of this goal, it undoubtedly includes a certain minimum economic standard, particularly in regard to the material conditions of life. The type of change required, then, is to a considerable extent change in the socioeconomic institutions. This is especially true of those areas where the discrepancy between actual levels of living and the desired levels is greatest. Where this discrepancy between actual and desired levels of living remains high, 1 Wilbert E. Moore, "Creation of a Common Culture," Confluence, 4:231–233 (July 1955).

and the prospects for continuation of the discrepancy are also high and visible, the world is faced with a source of social strife.2 Here is the crucial problem in social engineering, outweighing all the particular questions of developmental strategy and tactics.

Since both the common goal involved and the means of achieving this goal include economic change, the concept of economic development can be interpreted as both an end and as a means to that end. It is precisely this duality of the concept of economic development that defines the central problem of this volume. The desire for or commitment to economic development as an end does not necessarily include desire for or commitment to economic development as a means. The fact that these two aspects of development can vary somewhat independently means that even though the desire for development as a goal may exist and be physically achievable, commitment to development as a process of change may not exist. When physical capabilities are partially blocked, commitment to the means of development is even less probable, particularly since greater sacrifices are likely to be involved.3 We are here mainly concerned with the acceptance and performance of the actions necessary for economic change, i.e., with means. Where the process of change includes a gradual achievement of the end, i.e., where the end itself is viewed as a continuum rather than a distinct state, the two types of commitment will probably be mutually reinforcing and perhaps indistinguishable. In such a situation the problem of gaining commitment to development as a means should be minimal. 2 On differences in current economic levels and in rates of growth, see: Norman S. Buchanan and Howard S. Ellis, Approaches to Economic Development (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1955), pp. 3-22; Karl W. Deutsch, Nationalism and Social Communication (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1953); Paul K. Hatt, ed., World Population and Future Resources (New York: American Book Co., 1952); Eugene Staley, The Future of Underdeveloped Countries (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1954), pp. 1-26. The demographic and social correlates of underdevelopment are emphasized by A. J. Jaffe and Charles D. Stewart, Manpower Resources and Utilization (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1951), pp. 401-414.

3 See Deutsch, op. cit.; Gunnar Myrdal, International Economy: Problems and Prospects (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956), pp. 160–221, 319–321; Talcott Parsons and Neil J. Smelser, Economy and Society (Glencoe: Free Press, 1956), pp. 255–271, especially pp. 260–261. See also references listed in International Social Science Bulletin (special issue on "Factors of Economic Progress”), 6(2):288–289 (1954); Keith Simpson and Hazel C. Benjamin, Manpower Problems in Economic Development: A Selected Bibliography (Princeton: Industrial Relations Section, Princeton University, 1958).

For an exposition of the reciprocity of stimulation between wants (ends) and activities (means), see Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics (8th ed.; London: Macmillan and Co., 1938), pp. 86-91.

The end can appear as a continuum only in certain situations, primarily where development is more a process of intensification than of transformation. In areas where incomes are very low, the sheer amount of change required to achieve the desired goal rules out the intensification of current economic institutions. The type of economic change required in these areas calls for the transformation of the basic character of the economy and concomitant social structure. Furthermore, other characteristics of currently underdeveloped areas impose limits on the possibility of immediate gains even from transformation. Of particular importance here is the economic position of these areas vis-à-vis the remainder of the world; in many such areas rapid growth is still less rapid than in advanced countries.5

Commitment to Economic Development as a Means

When the two types of commitment are not mutually reinforcing, the differences between them are likely to become sharper through time. In other words, where the given goal of economic development involves major transformations of the socioeconomic structure, their acceptance is problematical and uncertain. The "means" prove to be new patterns of daily existence and thus are in conflict with an intricately interrelated social, including normative, structure.

These patterns of behavior and their normative sanctions in turn relate to goals and values other than economic development or material well-being. Since such well-being is not the sole goal of any society, and cannot be if it is to survive as a viable system, the value conflict is not trivial or simply based on temporary ignorance or misunderstanding. Even if it is argued that in some underdeveloped areas the aspiration for economic development is so high and firm that it has a temporal or strategic primacy, it does not follow that the goal would or could be pursued "at all costs." The question is: What are the minimum and probable "costs" if the goal is pursued at all, as it certainly will be? These costs prominently include value conflicts arising from necessary transformations in hitherto accepted ways of life. Acceptance and per

5 Simon Kuznets, "Underdeveloped Countries and the Pre-Industrial Phase in the Advanced Countries," Proceedings of the World Population Conference, 1954 (New York: United Nations, 1955), Vol. 5, pp. 947-968.

• Wilbert E. Moore, Economy and Society (Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1955), p. 6, and Industrialization and Labor (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1951), especially pp. 166–199; Talcott Parsons, "The Motivation of Economic Activities," in his Essays in Sociological Theory, Pure and Applied (Glencoe: Free Press, 1949), Chapter 9.

formance of these new ways of life are important as necessary means and are problematical because of the lack of appreciation of their necessity (cognitive element) and the resistance to sacrifices of values (normative element)."


Societies that are currently considered highly developed show considerable differences in their economic and social organization. There is no reason to believe that the alternative patterns are exhausted. On the contrary, there is every reason to expect that extremely novel forms of high development will result when and if currently underdeveloped societies achieve their goals. The cultural similarities among the developed countries arise in part from the "historical accident" that these countries (with the exception of Japan) share a cultural heritage far more ancient than their common use of industrial forms of economic organization. A central theoretical question, therefore, is the extent to which subscription to the goal of economic growth prejudges the possible range of other cultural characteristics. The question is sharpened when alternative means for achievement of the common goal are taken into account.

The evidence already at hand indicates that sequences, rates, and results of socioeconomic change differ in both time and space. The ultimate refuge of the social scientist is, of course, "cultural relativism," which essentially denies the possibility of any repeated relations or predictive propositions. He is then limited to "culture bound" static generalizations or retrospective descriptions. This issue arises in various contexts throughout this volume. Herskovits, for example, takes the position (Chapter 8) that the processes of culture change are more general than the sequence of social and cultural forms. Kerr, on the other hand, implies the probability of variety in transitional forms but emphasizes the probable similarity of end results (Chapter 19). In Part I of this volume we attempt to provide the basis for recognizing and identifying variety without abandoning claims that a generalized theoretical system for social dynamics is possible.

John M. Clark, Preface to Social Economics (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1936), pp. 44-65; Everett E. Hagen, "The Process of Economic Development," Economic Development and Cultural Change, 5:193–215 (April 1957); Talcott Parsons, The Social System (Glencoe: Free Press, 1951), pp. 55-57; Wilbert E. Moore and Melvin M. Tumin, "Some Social Functions of Ignorance," American Sociological Review, 14:791-792 (December 1949).

The methodological question is partly one of desired detail. Generalization loses information, which must be reintroduced if the generalization is to be "applied" to a concrete social system at a particular junction in its somewhat unique evolution. In this volume the interplay between analysis of developments in particular areas, on the one hand, and the search for structural and sequential types or universals, on the other hand, is a recurrent theme.

Despite differences in particular social systems and in the historic paths to the present, problems of variability are partly resolved by recognition that the analysis deals with systems. Thus the elements of social behavior associated with productive systems are not randomly variable. The possible sequences of change are substantially short of infinite in their variety.

If the analysis of social change starts from a consideration of economic development, no crude theory of economic determinism is implied. Rather, the concern is with a value change that is major in both degree and scope and with the implications of this change for the whole socioeconomic fabric of existence. Economic development thus represents as serious a challenge to social science as it does to social engineering.


Defining commitment as the acceptance and performance of behaviors appropriate to new social forms gives three main components for analysis: (1) actions and norms, appropriate to (2) varieties of social forms and contexts (the loci of commitment), acquired through (3) varieties of sequential socialization via the agencies of exposure.

The tests of commitment thus lie in both acceptance and performance-norms and actions. Both may vary in level and degree. Performance provides inferential but not conclusive evidence of acceptance, which may also be tested by persistence in the face of adversity or competing opportunities, performance in the absence of external sanctions, and emotional condemnation of normative violations by others. In other words, acceptance refers to the phenomenon of internalization or moral conformity.

The appropriateness of actions and norms is of course always relative to a specific locus of action. This locus cannot be limited properly to a particular form of work organization, such as the factory system, for two reasons: (1) Social systems display some degree of functional interdependence and integration, so that a change in modes of productive

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