CHAPTER 8
Differences
in Social Inheritance

OUR SOCIAL INHERITANCE iS not limited to such conditions as family position and wealth; it includes also the general situation of the community, the country, and the part of the world in which we are living. We do not often think of these things as having a direct bearing upon the ways in which we can make a living or spend our spare time, but they do. It is only necessary to consider the enormous differences in our own country in times of prosperity, of war, and of depression, to see how great this effect is. Not all members of the community are equally affected by such major changes, but none remain unaffected.

Some idea of the enormous range of possible differences was given in Part I, when we discussed occupations in various societies. There are also very great differences between societies which are at approximately the same level of civilization and which have many cultural traits in common. It is more difficult to make a living as an artist or a composer in America than in France, even now. There are fewer artists in societies which do not value artistic productions, and fewer philosophers in societies which are more intent upon material progress.

The total cultural milieu may enormously limit the avenues of expression open to its members. This may be fairly direct, by failure to support the occupation or even by social ostracism of those who follow it. It may be indirect in the sense that cultural elements not valued by the society may never become known to the members of it. With increasing literacy, all members of the group can be aware of occupations pursued only in other communities, but it is not enough to know that there have been at some time and place in the world exemplars of other ways of life. It must also be known or perceived as a possibility for an individual in his own society. This is of the greatest importance. For example, most boys and girls in our country have read of great scientists and artists. For the most part, however,

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