American and Soviet Society: A Reader in Comparative Sociology and Perception

American and Soviet Society: A Reader in Comparative Sociology and Perception

American and Soviet Society: A Reader in Comparative Sociology and Perception

American and Soviet Society: A Reader in Comparative Sociology and Perception

Excerpt

It might surprise some readers that this author felt compelled to explain and justify his enterprise, as if editing an anthology were a somewhat shady undertaking provoking the disdain of one's colleagues and the rumblings of his own conscience. In contemporary American publishing and academic life, anthologies, i.e., collections of articles (or excerpts of books) which had appeared before in print, are widespread and sometimes appear to have become substitutes for books both from the point of view of authors and their readers. For the latter, anthologies save time and intellectual trouble. They represent shortcuts to information, if not to erudition. They help one become acquainted with the ideas, or the gist of ideas of many writers quickly and relatively painlessly. There are, of course, many notable exceptions which cannot be subjected to such criticism. From the authors' point of view the anthology is also a shortcut to getting something between covers. Few would dispute that it is easier and quicker to edit than to write a book. We have today in the social sciences almost as many readers as books. Originally readers were justified by the desire to make inaccessible materials readily available. Yet most readers are hardly scholarly compilations of fugitive or esoteric reading matters. Rather they are reprints (often not the first) of materials published elsewhere not necessarily a long time ago and still in print. Producing them seldom requires much originality, hard work, or imagination. Their requirements lie elsewhere: in the conditions of the . . .

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