This volume reports the results of a study of the attitudes and opinions of about a thousand persons in eighteen states, in diverse occupations, and with various backgrounds, regarding certain aspects of their economic activities and problems, especially the ethical values involved and recognized. The study was based on individual interviews and group discussions. The purpose was not to discover the sentiments of the American people -- which, if it were possible, would be a colossal undertaking -- but rather to apply certain processes of inquiry within a feasible range and to report the attitudes and opinions revealed.
The study did not go beyond what the participants chose to say in the individual interviews and individually or collectively in the group discussions. It had to be limited (1) to about five hundred professionally planned and conducted individual interviews with a variety of people, and (2) to the discussions of nearly forty scattered groups, including a larger but varying total, in a succession of meetings. The local environments and community relationships of the participants were not explored except when their occupations were indicated and other information was incidentally revealed in the interviews and discussions.
On this narrow basis no broad generalizations as to attitudes of the American people would be justified. Nevertheless the data, and especially the quotations from discussions, may be interesting and provocative. The reader is invited, at least, to listen to many individuals talking about what is real to them. It is hoped that this publication of the process and results of the study will furnish useful program material for church and school groups and encourage local, if not more extensive, studies of a similar character. The process, especially the discussion process, may be more important than the "findings."
The individual inquiry was conducted by an expert professional organization -- the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago. It was engaged to construct and administer a questionnaire following lines laid out by the Study Committee of the Department of the Church and Economic Life of the then Federal