Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Organization man?

[Click for a larger view.]

I found these photographs in a paperback copy of William H. Whyte’s 1956 book The Organization Man. The photographs, stamped April 6, 1960, were in an envelope bearing the name of a Lubbock, Texas, photography studio. Was the man in these photographs an organization man? Or was he playing the part? Did he buy the book looking for a way out?

Whyte’s book makes interesting reading in 2013. From the chapter “The Practical Curriculum”:

By default, the anti-intellectual sector of education has been allowed to usurp the word “democratic” to justify the denaturing of the curriculum, and while liberal arts people may win arguments on this score, the others won the war long ago. Once the uneducated could have the humility of ignorance. Now they are given degrees and put in charge, and this delusion of learning will produce consequences more critical than the absence of it.

I return to my pessimistic forecast. Look ahead to 1985. Those who will control a good part of the educational plant will be products themselves of the most stringently anti-intellectual training in the country. Nor will the laymen be out of tune with the vocationalists; to judge by the new suburbia the bulk of middle-class parents of 1985 will know no other standards to evaluate education of their children than those of the social-adjustment type of schooling. And who will be picking the schools to endow and sitting on the boards of trustees? More and more it will be the man of The Organization, the graduate of the business school — the “modern man,” in sum, that his education was so effectively designed to bring about.
A related post
A list found in an old paperback

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