Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

By Charles Lemert | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Experiments at Renewal and Reconstruction

John Kenneth Galbraith ( 1908-) was born in Ontario, Canada. He came to the United States in 1931, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1937. Until his retirement in 1975, he taught economics at Harvard. During World War II, Galbraith was director of the Strategic Bombing Survey ( 1945). Later, he was ambassador to India in the Kennedy administration ( 1961-1963). His many books include A Theory of Price Control ( 1952), The Affluent Society ( 1958), and Age of Uncertainty ( 1967), as well as The New Industrial State ( 1967), from which the selection is taken. Though trained and respected as an economist, Galbraith is known as an elegantly clever and broadthinking writer, as the lead sentence in the selection suggests. No one of his generation was better able to see and state the social and economic conditions of the postwar era in widely accessible terms. Where others were caught in the enthusiasms of the Golden Age, Galbraith was more circumspect.

Change and the Planning System

John Kenneth Galbraith ( 1967)

I venture to think that modern economic life is seen much more clearly when, as here, there is such effort to see it whole.

I am also concerned to show how, in this larger context of change, the forces inducing human effort have changed. This assaults the most majestic of all economic assumptions, namely that man, in his economic activities, is subject to the authority of the market. Instead we have an economic system which, whatever its formal ideological billing, is, in substantial part, a planned economy. The initiative in deciding what is to be produced comes not from the sovereign consumer who, through the market, issues the instructions that bend the productive mechanism to his ultimate will. Rather it comes from the great producing organization which reaches forward to control the markets that it is presumed to serve and, beyond, to bend the customer to its needs. And, in so doing, it deeply influences his values and beliefs--including not a few that will be mobilized in resistance to the present argument. One of the conclusions that follows from this analysis is that there is a broad convergence between industrial systems. The imperatives of technology and organization, not the images of ideology, are what determine the shape of economic society. This, on the

Excerpt from The New Industrial State ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978 [ 1967]), pp. 6-7, 411-414. Copyright 1967 by John Kenneth Galbraith. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Co. All rights reserved.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 674

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?