Euratlantica: Changing Perspectives of the European Elites

Euratlantica: Changing Perspectives of the European Elites

Euratlantica: Changing Perspectives of the European Elites

Euratlantica: Changing Perspectives of the European Elites

Excerpt

This book seeks to write contemporary history in a new way. It uses methods of social research that were not available to historians of more remote times and that generally are not used to study our own time as "history." What we mean by history is the perspective that looks at the present as a temporal sequence from the past to the future. The study looks at Europe over the decade 1955-1965 in this perspective.

To write contemporary history in this way, we have adapted that remarkable instrument of social research called the sample survey. In some of its varied uses, such as predicting the behavior of voters and shoppers, the sample survey has become a precision instrument unmatched in the annals of social observation. In the study of attitudes, where there is no specific "payoff" item such as a vote or a purchase to test inferences, no such degree of precision is expected or claimed. Indeed, our claims for the particular adaptation of sample survey method used in this book must be very modest. Only the value our findings may add to the observations of contemporary Europe made by many astute scholars and journalists will justify the time, money, and labor entailed in using the sample survey for this purpose. This will take some years to evaluate. In launching the ship, we are aware that only the sea can decide.

Our aim was to learn how the elites of postwar Europe would face the reality of their diminished postwar power -- as elites, as nations, as a continent -- and how they would go about the tasks of positive construction. This obliged us to document current history as it happened by recording the attitudes of people who were shaping its course. As the complexity of this task became clearer, our conceptual and methodological perspectives broadened. What had originally been planned as a two-year survey became the ten-

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