The Incomplete Adult: Social Class Constraints on Personality Development

The Incomplete Adult: Social Class Constraints on Personality Development

The Incomplete Adult: Social Class Constraints on Personality Development

The Incomplete Adult: Social Class Constraints on Personality Development

Synopsis

"The writing is clear and simple and findings are presented for cognitive, affective and social skills.... The overall picture of the literature which emerges will prove of extreme value to undergraduates and graduate students. Thanks to the clarity of style, the issues are sharply defined for debate and further research." - Choice

Excerpt

A period in which it is fashionable and often politic to hold the WASPish middle class responsible for most of the ills of society is not the best time for an impartial study of social class differences in personality development. Nevertheless, the mounting evidence of a systematic, positive relationship between the child's personality development and his social class position cannot be ignored. Both the rate at which the child progresses toward psychological maturity and the ultimate level of development he reaches seem to be strongly affected by his particular social class subculture. The overall conclusion derived from the behavioral science literature is that the chances of achieving full personality development increase with each step increase in social class position.

The corollary--that lower class people typically develop more slowly and less completely than middle class people--will, I fear, raise the hackles of many readers. Some, out of genuine solicitude for the feelings of the poor, are categorically opposed to what they call invidious comparisons between classes. It would be interesting to know how much data has been buried as a result of this attitude. (One apparent example appears in footnote 46 of Chapter 3.) Others, moved less by solicitude for the have-nots than by resentment against the haves, hold that the lower class subculture is superior to that of the middle class--more natural, more spontaneous, for example--and so must produce better personalities. These readers will find it necessary to deny the entire body of . . .

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