The Many-Splendored Society, Book 7. "Life and the Good Life"  by Hans L Zetterberg.

This text has several parts called Books. This is a beginning draft of Book 7 dated 2008-10-20. While under construction it is open for vetting and comments or help to the author by email. The file is updated from time to time. You can ensure that you have the most recent version by checking "Current project" at

At present this file is mainly a collection of pieces from speeches and articles in Swedish that may or may not be used in the final manuscript. Some chapters are in the process of being scrapped and some of their content moved elsewhere. Links from the Table of Contents are inadequate.


by Hans L Zetterberg

© The author.

Society's Coping with Bodily Spontaneities


Introduction to Book 7: Society's Coping

In Politics Aristotle spoke of "life and the good life." His city-state (polis) had come into being for the sake of life, but exists for the sake of the good life (2.1252b29-30). For Aristotle the mere "life," as opposed to the "good life," was the domain of animals and of those humans toiling in fields, households and workshops. In his day the "good life" was primarily viewed as the body politic, but also art and philosophy.

The "good life" in our days can be generalized as the social reality of the language-based parts of life, at best a version of a "many-splendored society." We have seen in Volume 3 of this work how both social and individual identities in the main are products of language. We have seen in Volume 2 and more in detail in Volumes 4 - 6 how language is used to give structure to science, polity, economy, art, religion, and morality. For us, this is "the good life", while mere "life" is composed of the biological realities and physical surrounding and tools supporting mankind. To go from one to another is a step that requires a certain mental effort.

To read a poem about having children, for example the Spanish ones that contributed to Gabriella Mistral's a Nobel Prize, is an activity with symbols and not the same as having children. Thus we need to study our good life in relation to our biological reality. That means tracing our language products and our use of language rather than resorting to violence, imposed starvation, and rape to solve problems. These are immensely rich topics for the proper study of mankind.

Let us paraphrase Kenneth Burke (1941, p 9). To make decisions to build a house and draw up plans for building a house is not the same as the physical and technological activity of building the house. Thus we need to study mankind's good life. That is decisions and plans and good life. But we also have to engage in the toils of construction, digging cellars, raising walls, connecting to water, et cetera. That is the natty gritty of life. In all, the whole process involves the use of the spatial, mathematical and language brains, in relation to man's physical reality and his use of tools and technology.

A social scientist devoted to pure social reality and the good life can do much to advance a theory of society. But equipped with this knowledge she or he may still be lost in the world and life as it exists. For in existing societies we encounter human beings who, with the help of their symbols and tools, enact structures with deep roots in biological realities that obey laws of their own. Furthermore, environmental realities set limits to their creation. On the other hand, humans have untold opportunities of technology, also with laws of its own. In this book we turn to such complications.

Chapter 25

Household and Family

The Household

This chapter in incomplete and unedited


The household is an ancient form of organization, perhaps the oldest in human history, which man has employed to fulfill his needs for survival. The household provides practical arrangements for shelter against the elements, for sleep, for food and drink, for storing clothes and belongings, for social life, etc. It meets needs for marking off a territory shielded from outsiders, and to maintain a shelter. It meets the needs to accumulate and prepare (nourishments though own production or procurement from markets) and is a place for a large share of the eating and drinking of its members.  

Keeping "house" is generally unpaid work. The household takes care of the many necessities and resources for survival and comfort of its members, but does not aim to maximize profit as a business does, nor to maximize order as a public administration does, nor to maximize progress toward goals, as do associations and political parties. Its goal is the effective management of the given household resources.

Figure 24:1. Biological Groundings of Households





J2 J3 H
Organi-zations Economy Polity Type of freedom
10  Marking territory Cocooning House-
Right to

Building and maintaining shelter

House Proud

Seeking and producing nourishment

Outdoor Providers

Eating and drinking


Maintaining body temperature

Attire Conscious Family firms Dynasties
15  Cleanliness Hygiene Buffs

Resting, sleeping

Comfort Seekers

Anthropologists have found many cultures where newly formed families do not establish their own households, but move into the household of the husband or wife. In our culture it is not an absolute requirement that a family establish its own household. However, more than 100 years ago, Max Weber made the observation that in the Western world, families with a household of their own are more stable than families where husband and wife belong to different households.


Which household resources are to be husbanded? The dwelling is a household’s most valuable resource. During the past century, in many countries, residences became equipped with central heating, running water, and plumbing. In the new century they are being equipped with broadband. Today, more than one dwelling is required during a person’s life cycle, for example, a student room, a home for raising a family, a senior residence. Some add a vacation home.

The right to occupancy to a dwelling is especially important in the perspective of the family and household. This holds true whether a dwelling is part of a capitalist market or is part of a planned state economy. The main rule is that all occupants who fulfill their commitments as residents and neighbors, (including a rental or mortgage commitment) shall be allowed to remain in the dwelling. This gives a family or household opportunity to practice the very essence of husbandry, namely long-term planning in respect to the dwelling, which usually is its most valuable asset.


A household is usually a simple circle of people. If it develops into a cooperative for production it acquires a special character, as does, for example, a large agricultural cooperative. The same holds true if it develops into a for-profit enterprise, as, for example, a guild household with master, journeymen and apprentices. In the course of history certain households have developed into local governments, whose head has been a squire or principal landowner or lord of the manor. Social scientists have called such overgrown households “oikos” (which is no more than the Greek for household).

During the 1700s European manufacturing was often based on a system whereby the manufacturer apportioned steps in production on each household in the community. Some households with spinning wheels made the wool for the textiles, other households wove, dry goods stores dyed, cut, and sewed the fabric, or enlisted other households to sew the clothes. Traveling middlemen sold the products. Successful manufacturers maintained quality control of the households involved. This economic Putting Out System with its network of oikos was called Verlag in German, and survives there as a name of  publishing houses.

Oikos have purposes that extend beyond management of the simple household. They often have authoritarian and patriarchal leadership. They are very common in history.

Oikos seem ill suited to the democratic market economies of today but actually, as David S. Landes has shown that the big family firms such as Fords, Toyodas, Rothschilds, Guccis, Guggenheims, Wallenbergs and their likes are resilient. Generation after generation they account for a noticeable part of the creation of riches in the world.

In some ways, all [business] dynasties are alike. They are structures of blood relationship, often reinforced by marriage ties and adoption. The essence of the relationship lies in the nature of paternal governance: father, later grandfather, rests his authority on age, love, the habit of accepted power, the advantage of experience, the legal possession and control of assets. In dynasties that work well, these considerations make for a system of reciprocal trust, duty, habit, and affection transcending legal and even personal obligations, surpassing time and cultural environment, and surmounting generations. As we have seen, however, such systems don't always work well, and can run into emotional difficulties. These emotional clashes seem to be almost unavoidable, gaining force from both success and failure (ya can't win and can't afford to lose!), and it is the family's ability to deal with such clashes within the structure of the business that helps determine their success. (Landes 2006, p 290)


The Rationality of Households

Market economists believe that all that is governed by the market is good. This is not true. We do not want to have market-governed courts or public administrations, nor market-governed schools or universities or museums and churches. We want an economy that is governed by the market, nothing else.

Some economists have nonetheless tried to apply the laws of the market economy to households. Households buy on the market, but modern households do not produce goods for the market. They produce two kinds of benefits. The one is provision for rest and sleep and other physical needs that few other institutions can produce for you. The other is food, clean sheets, a clean room and the like that can be obtained from others and can be bought on the market. Such services include cleaning, cooking, leaving and picking up children at school or day care, etc. Sweden in 2007 began permitting tax deductions for such services when purchased on the market. This indicates that economists are beginning to view the household as an enterprise with deductions for equipment such as a computer and similar outlays.

But for centuries the household has not existed for profit, has not been required to keep books, nor to report on the number of workers, nor to withhold taxes, nor to go into bankruptcy, as has been the case for business firms. The purpose of the household is to manage given resources, nothing more. It does not fit into the category of firms that have deductions for the paraphernalia needed in the generation of income and can write off their acquisitions.


Sexual Inclinations

 The sex drive that we share with other animals is, of course, essential in creating new generations of mankind. Totally free mating is rare. The whole process of reproduction from fertility to parenting is a biological spontaneity that is everywhere imbued with myths and rituals and few or many restrictions. We are born with either an XX or an YX chromosome, and society defines us as a “woman” or a “man,” again differently in different societies.

Sexual activity can take many forms that have nothing to do with reproduction. The compilation below shows the combinations of sexual acts depending on which body part is in focus and which partner (or lack of partner, as in masturbation) is involved. We arrive at 24 combinations. If you count men and women separately (for example, as when considering lesbians and homosexuals as different groups) and add bisexual and transgender individuals, the number of combinations naturally climbs. Only two of the combinations – marked FP and PP in tableaux below – are procreative, may result in children and new generations.


Figure 24:2. Classification of Some Sexual Inclinations


With partner






Animals (zoophilia)

Fertile age Past fertile age Pre-puberty(pedophilia) In puberty (hebephilia)












PP non-P



















Bondage,Dominance, Masochism,Sadism

non-P or P





























Bondage,Dominance, Masochism,Sadism  







Without partner


Masturbation non-P


Exhibitionism non-P



P=Possibly Procreative


To say that sex is for procreation is a true but much too limited a view. Human life is full of sexual inclinations that are not procreative. Such sex can be recreational, enjoyable for one or more parties. Or, it may be social in some form, e.g. establishing communion, equality, or hierarchy. Recreational sex among couples in which the women is past fertile age is standard human behavior. With the advent of contraceptives it can be safely practiced also during fertile years. Recreational and social sex exist in many varieties -- see Table 24:2. All are grounded in human biology and its given variations.

The heterosexual procreative adult couples, the “FP cell” in the table, are large in numbers. This significant population group must be taken into account in a democratic country with majority rule. But to grant it any monopoly on legitimacy is not justifiable. No society can press all sexual inclinations into this template, or into any other single template. The vocabularies of likes and dislikes that we discussed in Chapter 12 embody pressures in this direction. These vocabularies have an effect on attitudes and public views, but not on biological realities. How difficult this has been to understand also for learned professions such as jurists, priests, and physicians! For example, homosexuality is not a mental disease, as many psychiatrists maintained well into the middle of the twentieth century.

Queer Sexual Identities and Communities

It is today a common research strategy in the study of sex to focus, not primarily on the most common outcomes of sexual choices called "normal" by laymen but on what is exceptional, or odd or “queer.”  The strategy of focusing research on the queer may also be applied to all forms of opposition to other mainstreams of society. There are queer schools of thought also in politics, art, religion, and other realms. The queer protests in this broader sense represent both threats to the old and opportunities for the new. They open the possibility of a creative destruction of society. For example, opinion research in the service of democracy focuses on majorities; opinion research in the study of general social change might do well to focus more on minorities. 

Queer sexual identities, like any other positions in society, may be fixed or flexible, public or private. In big cities it is easier for the queer to locate others with the same inclination than in the small village. Thus emerges the common observation and image that the city is more homosexual than the countryside. This is most likely a difference in social visibility of sexual inclinations than in any difference in original biological distribution of them between city and country.

Queer communities and their inherited features cannot be stamped out; the policy and moral issue is rather if they should be above ground or be underground phenomena. In recent decades the gay parades have resounded with gusto: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!"

Some nations have got more used to it than others. Their understanding is facilitated by two facts, First, a queer sexuality is determined by biology, not society. Second, in non-sexual respects queer lifestyles may be entirely non-queer. In many cases they actually express the core of "family values," for example, the commitment to love and respect one another, and to care for and support one another, until death does the parting. Such values are the same as those formalized in straight marriage contracts. At the time of this writing an increasing number of Western countries allow same-sex marriages. Sometimes they stop from calling the latter "marriage" and use terms such as “registered partnerships” that contain all marital rights, sometimes with the exception of the right to a legal adoption of children.

Even without any exceptions against adoptions, the use of the "separate but equal" vocabulary between marriage and registered partnership is questionable. In its decision on the case Plessy vs Ferguson 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that "separate but equal" was compatible with the Constitution's requirement that all people be equal before the law. In like manner, conservative Christians in the Swedish debate have argued that there is no discrimination between marriage and a partner relationship that had been registered. Since the prohibition against adoption was dropped, such partners have the same rights as couples joined in a heterosexual relationship through marriage.

Such arguments are discriminatory. In Brown vs the board of Education the Supreme Court ruled in 1974 that "separate but equal" in the education of blacks and whites was discriminatory toward the minority, even if all enjoyed the same rights and had access to the same facilities according to the laws of the state and locality concerned. The arguments to nullify Plessy vs Ferguson were simply juridical interpretations of the Constitution together with summaries of historical experiences of the precedent Plessy vs Ferguson.  Such vocabularies are in themselves discriminatory.

The fact of the matter is that any "separate but equal" vocabulary is discriminating against the minority. That applies, of course, also to sexual identities.

Sexual Tolerance

In the twenty-first century sexual tolerance means something different from the sexual tolerance of the 1960s. In the new century it means tolerance for different sexual preferences. This tolerance is like religious freedom in a multicultural society. Faith, even deep religious faith, in the private sphere is received with tolerance, even respect, in the public sphere. Achieving religious freedom is a great step for mankind. It is interesting to note that being exhibitionistic about one’s faith is regarded as uncivilized in a society that has achieved religious freedom. You therefore wear discreet religious symbols, not provocative ones, in the public sphere. You do not repudiate the command to missionize, but you are diplomatic in your missionary efforts. Some religions, like the Jewish faith, do not exhort its followers to missionize at all.

Sexual tolerance does not have a long history as does freedom of religion. Some nations, or regions within nations, have already become accustomed to different sexual identities. But one frequently encounters a strained attitude toward sexual identity in the public sphere. When a gay parade was held in the 1980s, many participants eagerly proclaimed their identity: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” It is not always easy to apprise others of an unusual sexual identity in the same matter-of-fact way one informs them of more common roles such as neighbor, coworker, parent of a child’s classmate, or about one’s lifestyle such as a sports fan, gourmet, etc.

Friendship, Love, and Sex

In modern Western culture, friendship, love, and sex govern our choice of mate, not the decisions of parents.

As Aristotle observed, friendship between men (he was less interested in the friendships of women) is doing something that will benefit or please the friend -- without being asked for the favor, without telling in advance that you are going to do it, and without emphasizing afterwards that you have done it. Friendship is spontaneous, and it perseveres even in adversity; “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Love between partners is more than friendship. It can include a vision for a mutual future that two partners are agreed upon and strive to attain. Moreover, it is a delight that cannot be described in words, even if one is not aware of its pleasures at every single moment. It is like the crowning foliage of a tree which is nourished by a latticework of mutual duties that sustain it in seasons when the enchantment fades.

Love between partners is completely biased, but there is some reason to believe that persons who have known love in close relationships can more easily experience a love for all humanity. 

Erotic love, the joy of sex with another, is not the same as love to another person. But it can be strong and exhilarating, and can perhaps bond couples as nothing else can.

Sexual Self-determination

The right of the individual to decide which sexual activities he/she wishes to participate is protected by European law. It is based on the Convention of the European Council regarding protection of the rights of man and on the fundamental freedoms in respect to sexual abuse as interpreted by the European Court in its judgment of December 4, 2003 (M.C. vs. Bulgaria; no. 39272/98). Here we find the sexual morals of a civilized person in a nutshell: Every sexual act that requires a partner and which is not consensual is punishable. Consent shall be explicit and shall be given when the partner is of sound mind and is not in an extremity or in a dependent situation.


Many people believe that the family is the fundament of society. The fact that most children begin their lives in a family and subsequently learn about economics, politics, religion, and art has led us to think that the history of society also begins with the family. In truth, anthropological research indicates that some form of polity, economics, and religion were present from the beginning wherever family systems developed.







Organi-zations Net-works Type of freedom
18  Courtship and Mating Erotic Driven Families Kinship
Freedom in
choice of mate

Caring for, protecting
offspring and relatives


Without sex no families or kinship. Families are groups defined by blood relations.  Households are organizations defined to cope with some basic needs such as shelter, clothing, food, et cetera. Once this distinction is clear we can also separate a series of value-related phenomenon: for example, love (family) from practical arrangements (household), duty (family) from comforts (household), the long-term (family, parenthood), from the shorter term (membership in household), stable values (family) from pragmatic choices (household), treasures (family) from goods (household), the city single (family), from one-person households.

We need to distinguish between family and household. They grew out out different bodily spontaneities. The family has its base in two spontaneous bodily actions: first courtship and mating  and secondly caring for and protecting offspring and relatives. The household has its base in another set of bodily spontaneities: marking a territory, building and maintaining a shelter, seeking nourishment, eating and drinking, maintaining body by clothing, cleanliness, resting, and sleeping.

The Incest Taboos

The two incest taboos are the basic norms of the family. They are the norms for survival in all societies in which kinship defines rights and obligations.

If sexual relations between siblings were allowed, it would easily lead to rivalry between brothers and between sisters. This would apply particularly if the proportions between the sexes were unequal, as when a family consisted of two brothers and one sister. Since, at least until recently, it has been impossible to predetermine the proportion between the sexes of offspring, it has not been possible to come upon a general rule that would protect the solidarity among siblings from the dangers of jealousy and envy. If a relation between brother and sister should result in a child, the brother would not only be the child’s father but also its uncle, and the sister would not only be its mother but also its aunt. Conventional kinship relations that teach us to behave differently to a father than toward an uncle or to a mother than toward an aunt would then be out of commission.

Were sexual relations between parents and children permitted, the sexual rivalry between mother and daughter and between father and son that could ensue would endanger family solidarity. The children born of such a union would sunder all habitual relations. A son born of a union between father and daughter would be brother to his mother, son to his sister, and a grandson to his father. Confusion within the family and between generations would be total; it would preclude building society on bonds of kinship and organizing part of it as a series of kinship relations in which the individuals assume responsibility for one another according to their position in the kinship structure (Kingsley Davis 1949, pp. 402-403).

Our contemporary Western societies are not built on kinship to the same extent as those in earlier times and in other cultures. Yet family relations that carry rights and obligations still exist, and almost all people, from the most radical feminist to the arch conservative, are agreed on the incest taboo.

Then we of course have all the variations of the family/household such as polygamy (polygyny, polyandry), as well as arrangements whereby the brother of the dead husband is obliged to marry his widow, the related family structure in which it is a male child’s uncle who is the most important person in his upbringing, not the father. And so on.

Contemporary Western Families

The family is something set apart; in bygone days it was sometimes viewed as holy, as a sacrament. We need not involve the sacred when we speak of the family today. We can keep it simple and down-to-earth: our family is not anyone else’s family; our family holds to the bonds that are formed between husband and wife, between parents and children, whether through birth or adoption, and between siblings. In contrast to most associations, neighborhoods and circles of friends, the family usually comprises and admits into its fold all those who happened to have been born within it: young and old, men and women, rich and poor, those with jobs and the jobless, the educated and uneducated, the talented and the dull witted. It even admits the “black sheep.” All fit in somehow in what we call the “family of origin.”

A family need not be large. A single mother or father with a child is a family. But they naturally constitute a small family in comparison with one that includes, for example, mother and father, siblings, and grandparents. Family size has declined markedly during the last centuries, and the West the number of “relatives who count” as family and are active members has dwindled.

Adults who so desire can start their own families by taking a husband or wife. Sociological terminology calls the result “family of destination” In our time and in our Western part of the world the choice of partner is free, and is not determined by one’s parents or other authorities. You do not choose your family of origin, but you do choose your destination family. In other cultures parents often determine the choice of partner, especially that of daughters.

The Nuclear Family

Europe had its great transition from an agricultural to an industrial society 150 years ago. This transition was roughly concurrent with the immigration from the countryside to cities and with the emigration of Europeans to America. These developments had momentous consequences for the family. Big farming families were broken up: one brother emigrated to the U.S. and became a conservative individualist; another brother moved to an industrial area around a big city and became a socialist; the third remained on the farm in the hamlet, a hamlet that was increasingly being abandoned by its female inhabitants Women from the country began to overpopulate big cities. A disproportionate female population and the anonymity of the big city contributed to society’s gradual loss of control of sexuality.

The family type that seemed best suited to the new mobile society was a form of nuclear family, consisting of mother, father and offspring, with the father as the principal breadwinner and the mother responsible for the care and rearing of children. Before marriage the husband would ideally have secured a means of supporting a family and make enough money to bring with him his wife and children if and when he moved. In the working and middle class male pride was linked to a man’s ability to support a family. The early nuclear family was patriarchal, not only because it was the man who earned and controlled the family’s resources, but also because he was the family’s legal guardian.

Love was to determine choice of spouse in the nuclear family. A taboo emerged to talk about money and power as considerations in mate selections. We would expect, however, from the general principles of motivation (described in the section on "xx"  in Book 2) that money, power, and other cardinal values have in all eras been traded for intimacy. Empirical evidence from recent times  in the United States has been collected and analyzed by Zelizer (2005).

A new picture of the global development has been presented by Göran Therborn in a work entitled Sex and Power which undermines myths that have been entertained by many researchers on the family. There are many kinds of families in the world. Therborn's book dismisses the usual assumptions that their changes point in the same direction everywhere -- for example, toward marriage based on personal choices and love and toward smaller families as Goode (1963) had assumed. However, in the 1900s there were unmistakable trends in Europe that ran counter to the patriarchal nuclear family and toward a simplification of divorce. According to Therborn, these trends achieved a breakthrough in the first family legislation passed in the Soviet Union after the Communist Revolution.

Norway and Sweden came into direct contact with these ideas through a legendary champion of women's causes in the Bolshevik Revolution. Her name was Alexandra Kollontay, and she became the first woman whom the Soviets appointed as ambassador. In Stockholm and Oslo she had lively contacts with other intellectual feminists, and her writings were translated into Swedish (Kollontay 1926). Studying the impact of her ideas on the influential work of the Myrdals (Myrdal and Myrdal 19xx) is a topic that remains to be researched.

The family legislation of the Communist Revolution was soon revised in a more traditional line, and, as we know, the Soviet's big political and military projects collapsed in 1989. However, if we can find the missing link, future historians might be able to claim that although Communism failed in its economic policy and empire building, the Revolution's original ideas about the family took root in Scandinavia

Victorian Morality

In England, the major power of the era, the convulsive changes in the area of the family caused by the industrial revolution had been put in order by Victorian morality. London’s ideas had counterparts on the Continent and in Scandinavia. A dominant ideal was abstinence from sex before marriage, at least for women. An obvious reason was the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. A woman learned that it was safest to remain a virgin as long as she was unmarried. In many countries, spreading information about contraceptives and selling them was prohibited by law.

A more subtle rational for abstaining from premarital sex, a rational that some conservatives and religious marital counselors consider valid even today, was the idea that young people ought to avoid the strong bond that a sexual relation can create until they are sure that their partner’s character is worthy of lifelong love. A sexual bond would instead be forged during the first years of marriage. This was thought to make for stable marriages.

The Contraceptive Society

“The Pill” for women was discovered in the early 1950s and spread rapidly over large parts of the world. It inseminated the sexual liberation of the 1960s and provided a base for feminism, which could now grow into a mass movement.

The advent of The Pill heralded a decisive change in mankind’s self-perception. Previously human reason had been oriented toward controlling our physical environment so that we could eat, clothe ourselves, live comfortably and keep order.  opened the door for the acceptance of organ transplants, gene therapy, gene manipulation, stem cells, artificial insemination, artificial intelligence, and all manner of body culture whereby we decide about our bodies and they no longer set limits to our lives as they did previously.

The Pill thus marks a historic boundary. It is easy to understand that this innovation horrified, and still horrifies, some of the pillars of the old order. We all have reason to ask ourselves how far we shall move through that open door.

The 1960s were a breakthrough for sexual license for Western youth. The Victorian morals of the previous century faded away rapidly. A survey on sexual mores conducted in Sweden in 1967 revealed that only two percent – one person in fifty – had had intercourse for the first time in marriage (Zetterberg 1969, p.30).

To know one’s partner sexually became a must prior to building a family. In the 1960s many women found that the nuclear family had become an iron cage in the enchanted garden of life. The cage meant that women could not use their education in a career, that they could not have their own money, that they were denied the company of coworkers. Women therefore wanted to get rid of the nuclear family that had locked them into taking care of home and children through love to a man. Women’s radicalization in Sweden at the time is illustrated by the slogan “Love is the opium of women.” Some people experimented with communes in which several families shared responsibility for meals and child care. This was the Age of Aquarius and flower power.

The Impact of Contraception Practices

The technology of contraception has had a great impact on the relations between the sexes and the organization of family life. In a study for a commission on sex education I dealt with this impact in Sweden of the 1960s. (Zetterberg 1969).

Sweden had been a “sexually restricted society,” where sex was controlled by social norms narrowing the range of partners for intercourse and by systematically restricting sex information and carnal knowledge. Sweden became a “contraceptive society,” where a wider range of partners became available for socially acceptable intercourse, and social control shifted to norms requiring birth control and general civility in matters of sex. The study was used to shape new directives for sex education in public schools. The old directive allowed for information about the reproductive mechanism but forbade the teaching of contraception on the ground that youth in school should not have sexual intercourse. The study showed, however, considerable sexual activities during school years and a need for more information about them. The new directive made sex education, including the instruction of the use of contraceptives, a regular part of the school curriculum.

The study was also used as a background for a reform of the abortion laws. When social control of sexuality becomes based on the use of contraceptives, one must allow for the fact that no contraception is 100% effective. There are also moments of passion that may distract even the well-trained practitioner of contraception. The study showed that sexually active women who had experienced an unwanted pregnancy had about the same sexual habits and contraceptive practices as those who had only wanted pregnancies. Why should they have to face, at a time not of their choosing, the enormous expectations of parenthood and the accompanying disruptions of educational and career plans when their sisters could wait for a time of their choosing? Thus abortions are an integral part of a contraceptive society. A Swedish law of 1974 made abortion freely available through the Swedish national health service.

In the contraceptive society the combined effects of technology and legislation on abortion, sexual harassment, and custody gave a new position to women. By 1980 a Swedish woman could by herself decide:

• whether or not she wants to go to bed with someone when the opportunity is present;
• whether or not she would let herself become pregnant;
• and, if pregnant, whether the pregnancy should be aborted or completed;
• and, if completed, she decides who should raise the child: she alone, she and the biological father, or, she and someone else;
• and, if she shared raising of the child, whether she would continue this relation or separate/divorce;

These changes were noted in a news letter (Indikator 1984). The ways in which the Swedish government sponsored them by information, education, and legislation have been analyzed in a thesis by Sandström (2001). They are major changes in the relations in family life, i.e. in reproduction patterns and blood relations. The power has clearly changed from men to women. The story is different when it comes to power in household life. In patterns of locating housing, food preparation and doing the dishes, cleaning house, washing clothes, making beds, et cetera, women have not generally achieved equality, let alone sole power to decide who shall do what in the household.

The Egalitarian Family

By the turn of the century it had become the norm in Northern Europe for both husband and wife to be gainfully employed outside the home. To put it bluntly, the family had sold out to the workplace. In the Nordic countries, this transformation in family structure was welcomed with open arms. For the first time in history the state was able to tax women’s incomes. This development is part of the reason for the expansion of the public sector in these societies, which employs a preponderance of women.

Equality between the sexes became the family norm. MORE.


Parents and Children

Text here 

If we lack functional primary groups when growing up, a situation we have discussed in Book 1, and therefore run the risk of becoming juvenile delinquents instead of civilized citizens, we do not have equal prerequisites for participation in societal life as others do. It is doubtful whether others (teachers, social workers, personnel in correctional agencies can compensate for this lack in higher age groups. In this respect the educational system in modern society has received an urgent but sometimes insoluble task.

The task of delegating the solution to the problem to schools and other agencies also contains ethical dilemmas. Is it fair to children and their parents to mix troublesome pupils with well-behaved pupils in classrooms and project groups and thereby risk that an unruly atmosphere spreads to the well-behaved pupils and turns them into trouble-makers? Is it fair to the parents who have succeeded in teaching their children to solve conflicts in a civilized manner by using words to make their children spend the day with other children who solve conflicts with their fists? 

Rhythmic shouting and dancing is not only found in undifferentiated societies. The same mechanism can also appear in a gatherings of normally well-behaved children who may holler, jump around, and beat rhythmically on benches and tables. Parents usually become uncertain about handling such outbursts. Should they be quenched or turned into fellowship, song, fun, and acclaim for the performances? School teachers often face the same dilemma on a larger scale; many would usually prefer to keep the door closed to the room when discipline and quiet for studying are shattered in this way. The rule of thumb is to act early in the process to turn it into constructive ways.

Young peoples’ schools partly coincide with puberty, and they must decide how sexual relations between students shall develop. In practice, all schools also have views about gender and sexual roles. The news, for example, that many male students routinely called their female classmates “whores” was met with dismay when it was reported in Swedish the media around the turn of the century. Modern laws on equality between the sexes prohibits sexual harassment, but these laws apply normally only to adults and their workplaces. They have little or nothing to say about children harassing each other at their workplaces, the schools.

Violence is a constant feature in human societies. In young people’s schools it is often caused by adolescent boys who have a surplus of adrenaline. The FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes has studied 18 cases in the United States where students have taken guns with them to school and then murdered classmates and, in some cases, teachers. The Center discovered several common characteristics in the backgrounds on the perpetrators which were danger signals. Their schoolwork showed repeated themes of violence; one boy had, for example, baked a bun in the form of a gun in the school kitchen. They were carriers of injustices, real or imagined. They were totally fascinated by violent entertainment on TV, videos and films. They came from families that had guns at home (Internet MSNBC, 2000-09-10).

In this day and age, many ethnic conflicts have resulted in the creation of refugees who have fled from areas of conflict to different countries. In so doing, they have imported some violent ethnic conflicts to their new homes and their schools.

Violence can also be a necessary means of dealing with it and a necessary part of the fight against all crime. When a state got the rule of law, the institutions that had their own judicial system could no longer act as administers of justice. A state governed by law held to the principle that the state alone had the right the use organized violence, and then in the form of the military, the police, or correctional officers under civil control. The institutions that had had their own court, police, or private army lost that privilege. Beginning in 1851, at Uppsala University the professors, their households, university employees and students could no longer be judged by the university’s own court but had to appear before the city court, just as the nobility, the clergy, the burghers and farmers.       

After World War II, corporal punishment became prohibited in an increasing number of schools. The prohibition against corporal punishment in schools and other corporal treatment of pupils was based on the sound idea that a teacher should not show pupils how once uses violence. The prohibition was also adopted in the implicit faith that teachers need not use force, for example, shaking a pupil, in order to achieve the discipline necessary to teach and to train pupils in good behavior.

The laws against using corporal punishment in schools was not matched by any instructions or routines about police interventions and did not give rise to any changes in the police academy. The teachers were left in the lurch, but for the most part things went well anyway, at least to begin with. Today, closer cooperation between schools, the police, and prosecutors is developing. It is necessary to confiscate pupils’ weapons within the school area. It is necessary to prohibit symbols of membership in or support of groups that advocate organized violence, for example, fascist organizations or criminal motorcycle gangs.


Can Parents be the Clients of the Schools?

John Locke wrote in the 1600s that parents are better than the state at protecting the interests of their children. This is probably true still, but it does not mean that parents can without further ado become the clients of the schools (Gutmann 1989).

The classical problem that arises when parents wish to exert influence over their children’s schools can be traced to the family’s particularistic ideology and the teacher’s universalistic ideology.

Parents want their children to get the highest marks, and their teachers want all children to get marks that are just. In the old schools with their marking system this could lead to an insolvable conflict. A consequence used to be that teachers avoided getting the teachers’ influence on many levels, not only in relation to marks.

In the past, parents and teachers were fairly agreed that a child must be led before he can, when adult, lead the lives of others and the institutions of society. Schools should stop destructive impulses. Schools should give us knowledge and develop our talents and interests. Schools should curb our willfulness so that it can serve the general good. This agreement diluted today. What is worse, many parents’ meetings show that the parents themselves are not agreed about what kind of knowledge is important, which talents should be cultivated, what serves the best interests of most of the people, or how to handle troublesome and unruly schoolmates. Some think that it is up to the schools to give the children a certain lifestyle and sense of morals. Other parents think that schools should develop children so that they chose their own lifestyle and morality.

With the parents in the schools, the teachers’ professionalism is in danger. Biology teachers should be required to teach the Bible’s view of creation just because some religiously active parents demand it. They should stick to biological facts. Nor should teachers yield to parents who have twisted interpretations of democracy and claim, for example, that peace is more important than freedom or that socialism is more democratic than capitalism (or vice versa). 

We now have a generation of parents who are themselves are Takers. Giving these parents more influence in schools will not necessarily reduce the school’s “woolly mentality,” as some believe. It might, indeed, worsen.

Parents speak in too many voices to be able to decide about their children’s schools. They should be satisfied with voting “with their feet” and take their children out of schools they dislike. With the state’s subsidy for education at their disposal, parents can now choose a private school for their children, a privilege that only the rich could enjoy previously. In principle, even the poorest family can now decide to remove its children from a run-down school with bullying schoolmates and tired teachers and offer them a new chance in another school, private or not. The critical decision as to which school a child shall attend is no longer made by the authorities, but by those most immediately concerned in the family. One flaw in the existing system, however, is that non-government schools at the gymnasium level are (still?) lacking the individual programs for students with difficulties at school that the county or municipal schools have. Parental power to choose their children’s schools is always beneficial, but other forms of parental power over the schools is not always a part of the solution of schools problems, but a part of the problem.


Chapter 26.

Age and Life Stages

This chapter is incomplete and unedited

Age matters. It is an inescapable biological fact that the human body is small and weak in the beginning years of life. Often, the human body is also frail during its final years. Sexual maturity takes years before its onset in the human being. Chronological age also sets a limited period for childbearing in a women’s life. But other stages in life are more set by social realities than physical time or biological realities. In childhood and adolescence, age grading is important, but thereafter, many of the feverish celebrations of birthdays in our society are non-events; only some signify real change.

Our understanding of old age has become dominated by medical diagnoses of failing bodily functions, deteriorating memory, and dimming of the senses. We shall give biology its due, but only the study of the interpenetration of the social and biological gives us full understanding.

Life Courses

A sequence of common stages that persons pass between birth and death we call a 'life course'. Here we focus on shared trajectories. There are, certainly, also individual trajectories that are not shared by others. There are many life stories illustrating the workings of serendipity, chance, and coincidence, which fascinate social scientists with a humanistic bent.

In general there is more diversity in the middle of human life than at its beginning and end. In the first years of the nineteenth century Charles Hooton Cooley (1902) conceived of a common "cradle of mankind" in the form of "primary groups" in which every human journey through life begins and which contribute to the shaping of human nature. His idea of "primary groups" survives in spite of the expansion since his time of historical and ethnographic knowledge of childhood.

Likewise, the modern study of old age finds common denominators across societies and cultures when persons reach the ultimate stage from which there is no transition to a following stage in this world. Like book ends, the common primary and ultimate stages mark the beginning and end of ever so varied life stories.

The Primary Stage

With the concept of 'primary relations' that we have inherited from Cooley, we refer to the organizations and networks in which we as children live face-to-face in familiar and more or less lasting relations with others: household, family, kin, neighbors, nurseries, and playmates. They are primary in the sense that they are first on our social stage. Through these relations of infancy and childhood we get not only the necessities of life such as food and shelter, but through them we also acquire language, ways of handling our aggressions, and learn how to perceive social reality. When we are newly born we have the full genetic code of a human. In the interaction between the genetic code and the environment of primary relations we become fully functioning human beings.

The discovery of the role of primary relations in society amounted to a correction of the idea propounded by French and American revolutionaries that all people are born to participate in society on the same conditions. If dysfunctional primary relations and unpropitious genes push some individuals toward delinquency rather than toward lives as civilized citizens, they have had unequal points of departure for their later participation in society. It is doubtful whether all such inequalities can be compensated in later life.



The Renewable Age

The entrance into adulthood means a break from one’s primary relations, particularly from one’s parents. This break presents a dilemma that we all must resolve: we want the support of our primary relations, but do not want them to inhibit and limit our development into full adulthood. A successful break from the primary group is as important for the adolescent as a well-functioning primary group is for the child. Such breaks enable the young person to obtain a sure footing on the life course that lies in store. We call this period 'The Renewable Age.'

Redefining Demographics





Organi-zations Networks Type of freedom
7 Birth, growth, decay, death Age-related lifestyles Peer


Age Mates
8  Sexual maturation Gender 
Female networks Male networks Sexual tolerance

In a census you find the biological categories of sex, age, and race. The same is true in many studies in social science based on interviews with individuals; the answers are tabulated against such "background" categories. The demographic base of all social science are the numbers of men and women, young and old, and their division, if not in terms of race which no longer particularly well supported  by biology, so according to birth place or ethnic origin. 

It is understandable that demographics is placed at the beginning in most studies of society. But different societies define these categories differently in everyday parlance and behavior. To interpret demographics you need to know many other aspects of society. We redefine the categories of sex, age, and origin by using concepts such as ‘gender,’ ‘life course,’ and ‘ethnicity’ to bring out their social science content.

Life Courses Based on Kinship and Procreation

Let us first look at life courses based on common sequences of positions. The concept of ‘status-sequence’ was introduced by Merton (1957) but the idea is much older. (See the second half of Chapter 5).

Where stable family relationships prevail, kinship positions become significant categories that determine many actions and can be used to define a life course. Ethnographers describe widely different stations in life, and the transition rituals between them. In our culture they may be mainly the positions of children, youth, married, parents, grandparents, widows/widowers.

The Incest Norms

Life stages based on kinship presuppose two basic norms prohibiting incest.

The incest taboo is thus a necessary rule if life courses based on kinship are to survive. Our present society is not based on kinship relations to the same extent it was earlier. We nonetheless uphold the two incest taboos as an expression of humanitarian concern for children and youth, and they are prosecuted in the same way as other “outrages” and “encroachments on integrity.” Sometimes the taboos are defended on genetic grounds.

Life Courses Based on Kinship and Household

In contemporary advanced societies where each generation usually has its own household, the life course follows other stages from infant daughter or son to widow/widower than in the three-generation family with a Life Course Based on Kinship and Procreation. Its stages are many: infant or toddler or child living with parents, young man or woman living alone or with peers, young man or woman living with spouse, parents with small children, parents with teenagers, parents whose children have households of their own, parents with grandchildren, and finally widow or widower. See Figure ??:1.

Read this table from bottom up. Terms in parentheses in Column Sb3 are those used by Mitchell (1983).

A Life Course Based on Kinship and Household is correlated with chronological age but is not synonymous with growing up, maturing, and growing old. It is neither comprehensive, nor universal. Many persons never marry (xx percent in the US at the turn of the century), others have multiple marriages. Many married remain childless. Many with children die before having grandchildren. Many sequences are interrupted by separations of the biological parents or the death of one or both of the parents.

An example: The number of Swedes under 25 who had not lived with both biological parents prior to moving from home added up to 26 percent in 1995; 5 percent had a deceased parent and 21 percent a separated parent (Busch Zetterberg 1996, p 16). One hundred years earlier about a quarter of all children grew up without one of the biological parents until moving from home, but then the main cause was the death of a parent, not a divorce.

Life Courses Based on Education and Job

The first stage in the Life Course Based on Kinship and Households - Infant, Toddler, Child who Lives with Parents - coincides with the first stage in the Life Course Based on Education and Job, i.e. the socialization of the young in primary groups. A life cycle of this kind is shown in the middle column in Figure 1. It is very central to modern society. The state of knowledge about it can be gathered in a volume edited by Marshall, Heinz, Kruger & Verma (2001).

Figure 26:?. Stages in Three Contemporary Life Courses.

100 yrs

Kinship and

Education and


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Ultimate Stage >>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>







Spouse & Parent with Grandchild(ren)


Post-career jobs or final hobbies

Partial Retirement




Employees or self-employed  working as



Reformer (Societally Conscious)

Mover (Achiever)




Spouse & Parent with Child(ren) Moved to Household(s) of their Own


In jobs and/or

Maker Keeper Broker Taker Pro-vider Pro-


in socio-biological realms  realms or the societal realms of



Spouse & Parent with Teenage Child(ren) at home

Sci-ence Art Eco-nomy Reli-gion Polity Wel-fare


Experience-Seeker (Experiential)


Spouse & Parent with Small Child(ren)

testing numerous lifestyles such as Masculinity- femininity, Exercise Buffs Cocooning, House Proud, Gardening, Fishing, Hunting,  
Gourmet, Attire Conscious, Game Buffs, Dance Buffs, He-men, Femme Fatales, Bullies, Hooligans
Escapists, and and including






Young Living with Partner or Spouse



Lern-ing Buffs

Money-Cen-tered Civic-Mind-ed Aesth-etes Be-lie-vers Wel-fare-Mind-ed

First hobbies

Students in


Young Offspring Living Alone or with Peer(s)

 Child Living with Parents

Infant, Toddler





Education in primary groups



Subsistence-Minded (Survivor)

0 yrs

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Primary Stage >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Under slavery and serfdom everyone except the very youngest had a long period of compulsory service before being relieved by incapacity. When free labor markets became the rule in industrialized society, the standard stages were employment (with wages or salaries) and retirement (with pension).

A period of formal schooling of young people has defined a definite stage in life for them as pupils and students. When schools became compulsory everyone had to go through this stage. With the introduction of ideas such as “on the job training” and “lifetime learning” education becomes a companion also in adulthood.

The Educational Phase

The ideals and practices of education have been affected by the increasing dominance of the Life Course Based on Education and Job. After World War II the educational system in most western countries placed a priority on early specialization. The number of years spent in liberal education has been shortened, and the number of years spent in vocational training has increased. Less room has been provided for that which was called studium generale, “general education,” and which preceded education aimed at a career or job.

A heroic attempt to re-establish general education with new (or reinvented) pedagogy was undertaken at the University of Chicago after World War II. This studium generale consisted of a set of courses in certain subjects with a tradition of basic research. All beginning college students – in Europe the equivalent of the last year or last two years of the Gymnasium or Lycée − were afforded reading, discussion, and analysis of the most prominent original works in philosophy, physics, history, literature, and the social sciences. The aim was not to have the students learn the whole series of “Great Books of the Western World” selected by Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler. The goal was to develop critical thinking through associating in seminars, not only with teachers and other students, but with the foremost thinkers in the western world.

The Chicago model was soon copied at Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and other ambitious undergraduate colleges in the United States. Fifty years later all these programs were withering away, victims0of students’ wishes for easier courses with direct relevance to future jobs and to the attacks on their contents mounted by Marxists, ecologists, feminists, and crusaders for multicultural curricula (Bloom 1987).

The Job Career

The position of employment in a paid job is probably the most important position for an individual in advanced societies of our time. The job determines the major rhythm of man's life. The rhythm of jobs can be organized by the seasons, by the days of the week, by the hours of the day. Jobs are patterned, not haphazard, scattered events. Jobs give us social contacts. A widespread fear of being without a job exists in modern society. While the economic losses of unemployment can be compensated by social assistance, nothing of the sort can make good the human losses to someone out of a job and, consequently, without the companionship and social capital a job offers.

The job stage of a life course is divided into occupations and employments. To have one and the same occupation and one and the same employment throughout working life is a pattern derived from agricultural society that lingered on in the industrial society. Labor unions may prefer it since it provides for a stable membership, but the job market favors flexibility. This life course is now perceived as a sequence of different employments and often also as changes of occupations in the course of one's working life.

An equally arresting fact is that the Life Course Based on Education and Job has become common for both sexes. A lifetime position as housewife is no longer a realistic option for most women in the modern world. A long period of formal education and jobs with pay has become self-evident parts of practically all women’s lives. (More on this in the section on “Life Courses and the Sexes” below.)

The stage of pensioner in this Life Course Based on Education and Job was formalized in 1881 when Bismarck began to introduce legislation dealing with the welfare populations in Germany. After a decade, the ambitious program was on the whole accomplished: the disability pension in 1883, industrial disability insurance in 1884, and the old age pension in 1889. In this legislation, especially in respect to the pension, there were several innovations, among others, a fixed age (67) at which the pension began, which became the standard in a number of European countries. Another innovation was a fixed pension payment, which was financed from taxes paid by those who were then working, an arrangement which meant that one did not need to save for his entire pension. It was a pension for those who at that time were very old; when the reform began in 1889, the average length of life in Germany was 44 years. In the year 2000 the life expectancy at birth is about twice that age.

Ever since the system started in 1899 the ranks of German pensioners have swollen. Here, as in other countries, the number of people reaching retirement has increased because of improved health levels, but also because of a decline in retirement age. In the welfare states with pay-as-you-go financing of social security, the cost of pensions are usually the largest in the consolidated budgets of the governments.

Toward the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century we notice an emerging stage of post-career jobs, sometimes called “bridge jobs” if perceived as bridges to retirement. These may involve a partial retirement instead of a full retirement from the old career job. But more commonly, they may be new "plus-jobs" that add meaning to life without the level of responsibility, working hours, and pay of the career job. After their retirement from the career job an increasing number of modern people look can look forward to the plus-jobs and partial or postponed pensions, not a stage of the full-time pensioner.

In post-war Japan the stage of the post-career job became structured already in the 1950s by the so called teinei system. It provided retirement at age of 55 for a majority of employees in big industry and governmenttaptop bosses. Since few could afford to retire so early they took new and easier jobs with lower pay, often with the same employer. Japan never had an extensive governm Sci-ence Art Eco-nomy Reli-gion Polity Wel-fare ent-run social security program of the Bismarck type.

In other economically advanced countries post-career jobs is a spontaneous way in which The Life Course Based on Education and Job adjusts to the unmanageable size and costs of the numbers of retired persons. It does seem to be a more humane adjustment than the technocratic response to this problem from ministries of finance which call for an increase in the legal retirement age.

Life Courses as Stages of Personality Development

Personality studies define the stages of growth from psychological immaturity to a rich and full adult life. Their inspiration comes mainly from Erik H Erikson (1950), David McClelland (1961), and, above all, Abraham H Maslow (1960). This research tradition has been given a reinterpretation by Arnold Mitchell (1983, Chapter 2) with the thesis that there are two parallel paths to ego development, one outer-directed and one inner-directed. Mitchell’s “double hierarchy” is presented in the last column in Figure 1.

Everyone starts his or her psychological development with a primacy of the basic needs of nutrition, sleep, and physical security, followed by basic emotional needs of trust and belonging. Those who retain these priorities also in adulthood are called "Survivors," "Sustainers," and "Belongers" by Mitchell.

Among Post-Belongers there are two alternative options. First, those who give priority to their need of esteem are called Outer-Directed and found on the right-hand side the column Personality Development in Figure 1. Mitchell divides those whose adult priority is the need for esteem into two levels, the "Emulators" and "Achievers."
The other route − on the left-hand side of the column Personality Development in Figure 1 − concerns self-development. Those who put their priority here are called Inner-Directed. The Mitchell team distinguished in the United States of the late 20th century between three levels of self-development: "I-Am-Me," "Experiential," and "Societally Conscious."
At the joint top of both paths, Mitchell places a small number of exceptional individuals who are able to successfully balance all phases and priorities, the Integrated. Not everyone reaches this level.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Mitchell’s system became widely used under the trade name VALS in marketing and advertising research, mostly in the United States. When some of us adopted it for use in European markets we preferred other labels for the stages; they are found in the in Figure 1. Here are capsule descriptions of personality developments that are also stages in a life cycle.

Sustenance Stage 1: The Subsistence-Minded. Infants fill their time by meeting basic needs such as eating and sleeping and moving about. Grown-ups who seem overly stuck at this stage tell you that they get along all right, but that it is a struggle. Young school dropouts are often Subsistence-Minded. Others are social misfits, and are living proof that also in the mature welfare state there are pockets of need and misery. Still others are not down-and-out, but available for odd jobs and seasonal jobs. If self-employed, their business does not survive them but maintains them at a level well below that of a worker employed in industry or service. As consumers Subsistence-Minded concentrate on their basic needs. Price, of course, is paramount - they want the cheapest they can get of everything. They are attracted by rebates and special sales and yesterday’s bread at half price.

Sustenance Stage 2: The Security-Minded. Having security as one's lodestar is normal in childhood, but some never leave this stage and stay content with their lot at this station. They usually want to own the right to a job as their parents often owned a plot of farmland. They drive a safe car, have an account in the savings bank, and look forward to their Social Security payments. In the store they look at prices, but are also concerned about guarantees.

Sustenance Stage 3: The Group-Faithful. The Group-Faithful have belonging as their key to living, starting with their belonging to the primary groups of their childhood. As adults they may be reluctant to move from their hometown. They put in overtime at their job in order not to let their fellow workers down. They become the pillars within the organizations they belong to. Divorce hits them hard even if love has left the relationship. In politics the Group-Faithful are unlikely to stray from the party line. As consumers they prefer familiar brands of standard products.

Outer-Directed Stage 1: The Status-Seeker. To the Status-Seekers, becoming an adult means being competitive and being set on a career, striving for better living quarters and better jobs. The people they most of all like to associate with belong to a group that they admire and aspire to, represented by the upper rungs of their particular social horizon. Their purchases are usually guided by what they consider appropriate for the roles they aspire to and identify with at the time.

Outer-Directed Stage 2: The Movers. The Movers (a designation used here as in the phrase “movers and shakers”). They move out of the belonging and status-seeking stages. Efficient, active, externally oriented individuals who get things done, they can sometimes become driven by their own demands for accomplishment. As consumers they appreciate quality but also products that save time during their busy days.

Inner-Directed Stage 1: The Self-Faithful. The Self-Faithful grew up by going beyond the belonging stage and setting off as self-contained individualists who are sufficient unto themselves − however flamboyant that self may appear. Since they prefer to go their own way and not melt into the mainstream, they go to stores that offer a wide or special assortment and sales personnel that refrain from trying to influence their purchases.

Inner-Directed Stage 2: The Experience-Seeker. To Experience-Seekers maturation does not end with the assertion of the self; they are particularly receptive to fresh ways of looking at experience and its meanings. They value a rich inner life, and emotion and intuition are meaningful words for them. Mental health is as important to them as physical health. As consumers the Experience-Seekers are difficult to influence through worn-out advertising or marketing approaches. As employees they much prefer to work with people rather than with machines.

Inner-Directed Stage 3: The Reformer. Reformers have developed strong inner convictions: they are convinced of the merits of their values and want to change society to correspond with their values, not adjust themselves to society. On balance, they seem to prefer one-issue groups to political parties. They want to maintain or enhance the quality of their daily lives. They do not rush through the day, but rather pace themselves in order to avoid stress. As consumers Reformers are distrustful of advertising and critical of commercialism.

The Mature Stage: The Integrated. The Integrated persons are mature. They command fully both Inner-Directed and Outer-Directed paths of life. They are comfortable and embrace their life in the present, but, if need be, they have faith that they can change conditions and at the same time grow as persons.

In total, this makes for a life course with seven possible final stages of development. Along the routes from the Primary Stage of childhood to full maturity, different people achieve some but not necessarily all of the different levels of personality development. They continue to exhibit the traits of their final levels until they meet the Ultimate Stage. It never seems too late to start growth into the next level.
There is a correlation between chronological age and these stages of personality development but it is not strong. For example, in the late teenage period one is more likely to be Self-Faithful as hippie, punk, or whatever, than in middle age. At the other pole, The Integrated exhibit what is often called "the wisdom of old age," but in fact you can become an Integrated person much earlier in life.

Excursus: Measuring Stages of Personality Development

The measures of VALS mixed some demographic information into its classification of stages. There is nothing wrong in doing so, but the correlations with chronological age and other demographics used in the classification are then not discoveries, but are built into the stages by the researcher in the construction of his measurements. It is possible to measure the Stages of Personality Development without reference to demography. You may, for example, confront your respondents with the statement "I have to count my pennies and live frugally, and I always buy the cheapest of everything." With a high probability those who agree belong in the Sustenance stages. Confront those who disagreed with another statement "Feelings are just as important in making decisions as numbers and cold facts." Those who agree belong probably in the Inner-directed stages and those who disagree in the Outer-directed stages.

Using a number of statements of this kind in interviews we can place people in the stages of personality development. In a 1981 survey conducted in Sweden by the Swedish Institute for Opinion Research (no. 81057 in Sifo's archive) the respondents were asked to indicate to what extent they agreed with 69 statements. The extent of their agreement was given by the respondents on a 5-point scale on the questionnaire. The answers were first used to divide the respondents into the Sustenance, Outer-Directed, and Inner-Directed stages. We found that the stage “Integrated” could not reliably be classified in this manner: it called for in-depth interviews. Secondly, cluster analyses within each stage provided the sub-categories developed by Mitchell. Thereafter, to make practically useful scales, all 69 statements were reduced to a minimum of 12 by means of factor analysis. Using logit regressions these then classify the respondents according to the results obtained from all the answers. Without mixing in demographics, our following surveys provided the seven stages – through only 12 questions. That is almost as easily managed as when one asks for other background variables such as sex, age, or education.

We found in the Swedish data that the correlation between chronological age and personality development is overwhelmed by the correlation between education and personality development. The older generations have much less formal education than the younger. Education has a remarkably strong and lasting effect on personality development, particularly if it includes the impressionable teenage years. See the table in Figure ??:2

Figure 30:?. Stages of Personality Development. Ages 18-75 nationwide in Sweden 1982
Subsistence-Minded 141 72 27
Security-Minded 148 59 28
Group-Faithful 138 67 45
Status-Seeker 81 128 109
Movers 84 102 150
Self-Faithful 84 100 143
Experience-Seeker 56 147 148
Reformer 49 106 250

Source: Sifo Diagnostica 1982. The numbers in the table are Target Group Index (TGI). They are based on 2400 interviews. TGI = ( Share of target group / Share in total population) * 100


The Ultimate Stage of Any Life Course

The stages of the life courses become part of the identity of the individuals and they are often commented upon by people in their groups and networks. Sometimes they are embedded in legislation such as the obligatory school age, the lowest permissible age for marriage, the age for Social Security payments. The childhood stage is particularly well structured by the family and educational system, coordinating the children's biological, intellectual and emotional development. Children who deviate from the expected pathway in spite of the social controls may be put into separate correctional or remedial institutions. In adult life, stages are separated by titular designations such as Miss or Mrs. or Grandmother in family life, exams and degrees in the educational world, job titles in careers.

Stages of personality development are not so clear-cut. They are more like geological sediments; parts of the older sediments remain while new ones are added. However, people who rise above the basic stages of subsistence and security do receive recognition and sometimes admiration for their qualities. The Integrated usually get more deference for their maturity than people at earlier stages of personality development.

Interplays Between Life Courses

Life Courses and the Sexes

The modernization of society implies among many other things a shift in the dominant life course, from a Life Course Based on Kinship and Households to a Life Course Based on Education and Jobs. The change affected both men and women, first men and then women, and it probably affected women more than men.

In a standard work, The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi (1944) tells the story of the first generations of men who left their traditional agricultural tasks to work for wages in the new English capitalist and industrial society. At great cost and sufferings, they created a new life course based on wage-earning jobs. They faced massive changes. For example, as a matter of course, they had brought their children along to assist them at their new workplaces, only to find that the children did not work for them but were exploited by the factory owners and managers. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the struggle for better working hours, living wages, job security, workman's compensation for injuries, workman's education, vacations, and pensions is in the main a story of men's struggles to shape their version of the Life Course Based on Education and Jobs.

In the twentieth century the focus changes to women. In increasing numbers in the advanced countries they, too, adopted a Life Course Based on Education and Jobs. They fought to get into the same schools as men, to get into the same occupations as men, to get the same wages as men, and the same positions of power as men. This struggle has been facilitated by the fact that the goals have been well understood; they had already been achieved by men. But the women's struggle is more difficult since it has to overcome patriarchal sex roles, particularly in the organization of households, which is a structure much older than industrialization. A standard work on the Great Transformation for women comparable to Polanyi's book remains to be written. The major insights of the transformation are found in feminist literature, beginning with Simone de Beauvoir (1949) and Betty Friedan (1963). The Second Sex is the title of  de Beauvoir’s book, and it means the second-class sex. Women had become second-class humans, not due to biological circumstances, but for reason of their social history. Women are perfectly capable of living like men; this position in her 1949 de Beauvoir’s book has became increasing accepted as correct. A modern society is wholly dependent, not on physical strength but on the language brain, an organ where there is no female disadvantage, perhaps even an advantage.

The transformation for men in the nineteenth century was facilitated by collective actions congenial to the Group Faithful in the Life Course of Personality Development. The transformation for women in the twentieth century seems to have been more influenced by ideas from more advanced stages, often the inner-directed ones, in The Life Course of Personality Development.

Life Courses and Population

The life course of Education and Jobs is superimposed in our society on the older life course of Kinship and Household. Usually when couples have young children, they also are faced with heavy demands of jobs and careers. Jobs and career tend to win out over family and children. Thus birth rates decline and many modern societies cannot replace their populations except through immigration.

The childbearing stage can more or less fully fill the fertile period in women. Marriage can take place at puberty as, say, in old India, or much later, as in most of Europe. Traditionally, Western Europe has promoted a shorter stage of childbearing. The interrelation between the life courses based on training and jobs and the life course based on kinship and procreation separated this part of the world from others already in the Middle Ages.

Guilds generally did not permit apprentices to take a wife until they had finished their training, and this regulation meant that a substantial portion of the urban population had to postpone marriage for a considerable number of years after it was physiologically possible. In agriculture, numerically the most important sector of the late medieval and early modern economies, farmhands were almost members of a farmer's family, and thus were under no social or economic pressure to marry early. Men were induced to put off assuming parental responsibilities until they had acquired the means to care for a wife and children. This meant in many cases that they never married, but lived as fully accepted members of a household headed by an older brother, who because he had inherited the family plot was able to be a "husband" (which means, literally, householder). As a result of this personally onerous but socially effective system of birth control, Europe's population generally did not press as heavily on the subsistence available to it as in the Asian civilizations; compared with China or India, Europe was relatively free of great famines. And at the beginning of the modern era, the continent was still relatively sparsely populated (Petersen 1964, p. 126).

Europe's share of the world population was 21 percent in the year 1800. It rose to 27 percent in the year 1900 when Europe was at the peak of its power, mostly because the more advanced hygiene and medicine was available than in the rest of the world. The large-scale emergence of The Life Course Based on Education and Jobs for both men and women cemented birth rates at comparatively low levels in Europe during the twentieth century. By the year 2000 Europe's population had declined to 13 percent of the world total. In the year 2100 it is expected to be about 7 percent of the world total.

Jobs and the Life Course of Personality Development

Many aspects of living are affected by the Life Course Based on Personality Development. Let us single out how it affects work, a key stage in the Life Course Based on Education and Jobs.

In the Sustenance stages jobs are sheer breadwinning. Here you look for survival and security, and often long for faith in the authorities. At this stage, you do not ask for amenities on the job — except perhaps the right to phone home from the job during a break and the right to join a union — you ask for a job. Marx held that capitalists always and everywhere press workers' wages to sustenance levels, or below. In the main, however, our research findings on this score run contrary to the common assumption of Marxist scholars (e.g. Braverman 1974) that jobs are getting more controlled from above, more subdivided, and voider of human content, and that workers are exploited by the lowest wages. The contrary is true (Yankelovich et al. 1985). In the last few decades of the 1900s, the worker’s discretion on the job is increasing. Also, in eras when economic performance is bleak and there are too few jobs to go around, much effort is being put into existing jobs, with the result that they are improving and becoming more interesting. The labor market in the advanced countries is increasingly populated by persons in the Outer-Directed and Inner-Directed stages of personality development and they want jobs that suit them.

In the Outer-Directed stages, jobs mean material success. Here you work for an improved standard of living and a career. These values are favorable to production, and they welcome advances in technology. A better overcoat, a better home, a better car, a better job, in short a better standard of living, is important here. External signals of success loom large. This view of life goes hand-in-hand with economic growth, an alliance very prominent in the advanced economies of the 1950s.

In the Inner-Directed stages expressivism prevails. Here you look for creativity, self-realization, harmony with nature, and a good and deep inner life. You work to develop yourself. Inner signals of success are more important than the external ones. Quality of life becomes as important, or more important, than a material standard of living. This view of life grew rapidly in the industrial world in the early 1970s and seemed at that time to be at cross-purposes with economic growth.
It is with jobs as with marriages: what is a mismatch for one may be a good match for another. One person may desire a husband or wife who is stylish and elegant. He places less importance on emotional depth and intelligence. Another puts a premium on deep emotional contact and attaches less importance to external attributes. Depending on our stage in the life course, certain jobs will be mismatched and others will be matched to us.

In the Sustenance stages people give their best to jobs with steady remuneration and complete job security. The older blue-collar generation of industrial workers fits into this category. Here, one is willing to forego other amenities and opportunities if there is enough to provide for self and family.

People in the Outer-Directed stages give their best to jobs with incentive pay, advancement opportunities, and clear and fair rules for promotion.

People in Inner-Directed stages give their best to jobs that allow for personal, not just material, growth. They give their best when the job allows for creativity and self-development.

In interviews from the 1970s mismatched people were many: forty-nine percent in the United States, forty-two percent in Israel, forty-seven percent in West Germany, sixty-three percent in the United Kingdom, forty-four percent in Sweden, and sixty-eight percent in Japan. (Yankelovich et al. 1985)

In the 1960s and 1970s, many people in the Inner-Directed stages of their life course gave up on their jobs and thought they could only realize their values during leisure time — by being close to nature, walking in the mountains, sailing on deep waters, meeting with close friends. These persons were a drain on working life. In the 1980s and 1990s, the story changed. People in these stages of their life course increasingly looked for jobs that allowed them to live out their inclinations on the job rather than outside it. And they loved the newly created jobs with their freedom of decision-making and opportunities for creativity.

Generation and Opinion

Let us now continue our exploration of age but turn from life courses to the study of generations, i.e. cohorts of the same age group.

Every member of a generation inherits a gyroscope for its orientation in life. The gyroscope spins in a way set by parental values and experiences. Its course is set in what we, following Cooley (1902), have called the “Primary Stage,” i.e. ages from infancy to pre-puberty. It represents primarily lessons that are learned from generation to generation.

Every member of a generation also is equipped with a radar screen that constantly scans what happens among contemporaries. It picks up unique events and the reactions to them that each generation experiences. These events may re-evaluate traditions and make the opinions of peers more important than those of one’s parents.

The radar is especially sensitive during an interval ranging from the height of puberty through the first years of adulthood. During this period many young people have personalities that are “Group-Faithful” and “Self-Faithful.” In these years, they are especially impressionable by ideals, they are unusually open to embracing extreme opinions, to recruitment into queer groups, and are quick to go through conversions, be they in fashion, politics or religion. It is believed that what happens in adolescence may color much of the later life of a generation (Mannheim 1928). I will call this period the “Renewable Age,” in the dual meaning of this word; it is capable of reaffirming and/or changing what was learned in the Primary Stage, and it is able to be sustained throughout adult life.

Organized educational, religious, political, or commercial interests can more easily exploit the “Primary Stage” and the “Renewable Age” than other periods. For example, many lasting preferences in food, religion, sports, et cetera are set in the Primary Stage. Many lasting preferences in music and politics are set in the Renewable Age. Most suicide bombers are apparently recruited during their Renewable Age.

The gyroscope and the radar that orient every generation may have unequal importance. Riesman (1953) suggested that the radar generally became dominant in the United States by the middle of the twentieth century. Peers then became more significant than parents.

With these analytical ideas we may better understand the shifting tides of the last half of the 20th century.

People who experienced the Depression of the 1930 usually found it difficult to defend individualism in a liberal and capitalist order. They found it easier to embrace collectivism in the form of fascism or socialism. Although fascism was discredited with World War II, the post-war years and the 1950s were imbued, on one hand, with sympathy for a victorious Soviet Communism which gained many fellow travelers in the West, at least as long as Stalin’s terror was ignored. On the other hand, a majority in many western countries came to believe in a kind of “collective liberalism.” (The term is Edward Shils’; in Europe it covers the reform socialist, social democratic, and welfare-liberal currents.) Collective liberalism combined democracy with economic growth, full employment, an awe of science, and, not least, political engineering of various “reforms,” from child benefits to old-age pensions. Despite the cold war, western nations seemed briefly to be living in an idyll. Old ideological conflicts were defused; Daniel Bell entitled one of his books End of Ideology. A new promising era had begun.

European colonies were freed, and there was hope for the low-income countries (at that time called the Third World). But there was a darker side to world affairs. The war efforts and the cold war had resulted in an oversupply of armaments. Cheap firearms and new weapons of mass destruction had made it ever so easy to kill and ever so hard to defend oneself. However, most people suppressed the thought that peace is really another term for an interwar period. “Make love, not war” became the slogan among youths reaching the Renewable Age in the 1960s and 70s.

This was part of the growing liberation from tradition and discipline in the West that had a breakthrough in the 1960s. Emancipation was not just about sexual morals. Churches abdicated from their traditional leadership, patriotism was ridiculed, knowledge was mocked, populism extolled. Hierarchies crumbled and equality was proclaimed to be the natural order of things. Only old fogies did not wear jeans. The Vietnam War added a sizeable dose of anti-American sentiment to the cultural climate in the world. Marxism came out of its ghetto, and Marxist-colored teaching at colleges and universities was called “critical social science.”

In the aftermath of the youth rebellions of 1968, the environmental movement gained ground. It was followed by other movements such as women’s lib. Their proponents described them as progressive, and they gained credibility since many of the artists, journalists, academics and other intellectuals in the West gladly joined in the criticism of central powers, tradition, and authority.

Reagan and Thatcher — or rather Reaganomics and Thatcherism — undermined collective liberalism, particularly its predilection for political governance of the various parts of society outside of the strict body politic. Unshackled market forces created great prosperity in the West. The Berlin Wall was torn down by people desirous of freedom and hankering for consumption. The Soviet regime fell. The old individually centered liberalism had returned and was called neo-liberalism in Europe and neo-conservatism in the United States. But the surprisingly rapid growth of globalization became a new object of hatred.

People from the former colonies streamed to the cities of the former colonial powers. Civil wars and minor wars added to the influx of refugees. European nations were somewhat taken by surprise when they discovered that they had become multicultural, just as the United States and Canada, but without the cohesive force of the national ideologies of the latter. The field was open for the growth of xenophobia, an ingredient in a new fascism.

The decisive events for every generation of youths after 1968 have been many and multifaceted. Generation X, influenced by AIDs and Chernobyl, adopted a reserved, ironic attitude. Generation Y (or whatever we shall call it) learned to live and express their identities with cellular phones and on the Internet. The impact of September 11, and of the rise of Muslim extremism with a terrorist agenda yet to be fully studied.

None of the experiences of these generations were as great as those of the Depression and the Vietnam War, which were so overwhelming to those who had lived through them that they reverberated among their children. The children of the generation that had demonstrated during the Depression years became the protest-wise generation that made itself heard and seen in 1968. Then it was time for the children of the ’68 agitators to make their own protests. The emergent generation of youths during the first decade of the 2000s – we can call it generation Z – is more eager to protest and more sophisticated in agitation than both the X and Y generations.

The antagonism toward authority, capital, and central powers is on the upswing. In the period after the millennium, growing agitation, demonstrations, riots, violence directed against globalization and the establishment have become the order of the day. The esteem and dignity of the authorities have been diminished. The police have, as usual, become a target for protest, and their "zero tolerance" has become a particular object of hatred.

A serious study of these changing tides would have to recognize that all eventful circumstances may (and usually do) affect all people of all ages to some extent. However, to identify major influences, we must record three different circumstances and measure their impact:

• The eventful circumstances shaping the parents at their Renewable Age which would become included in the gyroscopes of their children in the Primary Stage of the latter.
• The eventful circumstances that were contemporary with the Primary Stage of the same children.
• The eventful circumstances of their own Renewable Age.

These three effects are enhanced if the generation experiencing them is large in numbers. The size of the generations is given in the census. The great impact of the many postwar “baby boomers” is often noted in contemporary generational analysis.

Cohort analysis, developed in the science of demography, should be the method of choice for these analyses. It is striking, however, that so far, few examples of cohort analysis of opinion polls can be found in writings about the generational changes mentioned above. The main sources of generational research are found in historical and biographical archives, not social science data bases (see, for example, Strauss & Hove 1991).

The Ultimate Stage of Life in a Many-Splendored Society

At all stages of all life courses, the occupants have a sense of what the next stage will bring. You can look forward to something that you have seen in others. Even the "young-olds" can still conceive of a new residence, a new love, a new hobby. But when you reach the 'ultimate stage' there is no longer any stage to move into. This stage coincides roughly with "old-old" age as it nowadays is called by gerontologists.

We distinguish between biological death and social death. They need not concur. An established family in ancient Egypt could mummify its dead and keep the mummies in the family home, drink toasts to them at dinner, perhaps take them out for a hug or a dance on the floor. Their biological death had occurred, but not their social death. In the contemporary world the old-old often suffer a slow social death with successive disengagements from established roles prior to an ultimate disengagement through biological death. Their deteriorating appearance may seem scary and ugly to the non-old. They impose on the non-old the unwelcome thought of everyone's inevitable death. And many die a social death ahead of their biological death.

In the ultimate stage chronological time loses its iron grip. This may simply be due to failing memory, but other processes may also be at work. In the ultimate stage the old-old themselves may develop a dual personality. One internal personality reshuffles memories, reformulating acts in their biography over and over again. A second, external, personality responds more or less adequately, but often superficially, to the routines of their settings: greetings, goodbyes, mealtimes, bedtimes, and what have you. (Hazan 1994, Chapter 7)

In the chorus that ends Sophocles' Oidipus the King we hear this conclusion:. "Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last." A tragedy may not necessarily be so total.

In his drama Faust, a Tragedy, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) illuminated a multitude of dilemmas and opportunities inherited in the vision of freedom to pursue any cardinal value, including the right to accept or reject divine messages. Doctor Heinrich Faust, frustrated by the slow progress of his scientific research, sells his soul in a pact signed in blood with Mephistopheles, the devil in the guise, first of a pliable poodle, and then of a traveling scholar. In return Faust gets extraordinary abilities as a scientist. On another level, he finds a passionate love for a lovely bourgeois girl named Gretchen, a passing affair for him, but not for her. He also gets the companionship of Greek goddesses. He finds worldly riches and gains. He gets consulting power at the courts where he solves their economic problems by inventing paper money. Faust, like Goethe himself, can reach the top in a career in his first chosen realm of knowledge, but also in the pursuits of rich comfort, political power, and the creation of beauty in poetry and drama.

As death approaches, Faust looks back at his life cycle from childhood to old age. He celebrates his glad activity to stand with free men upon ground that's free.


Wisdom's last verdict goes to say:
He only earns both freedom and existence
Who must reconquer them each day.
And so, ringed all about by perils, here
Youth, manhood, age will spend their strenuous year.
Such teeming would I see upon this land,
On acres free among free people stand.
I might entreat the fleeting minute:
Oh tarry yet, thou art so fair!
My path on earth, the trace I leave within it
Eons untold cannot impair.
Foretasting such high happiness to come,
I savor now my striving's crown and sum.

Translated by Walter Arndt

Das ist der Weisheit letzter Schluss:
Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben,
Der täglich sie erobern muss.
Und so verbringt, umrungen von Gefahr,
Hier Kindheit, Mann und Greis sein tüchtig Jahr.
Solch ein Gewimmel möcht’ ich sehn,
Auf freiern Grund mit freiern Volke stehn.
Zum Augenblicke dürft’ ich sagen:
Verweile doch, du bist so schön!
Es kann die Spur von meinen Erdetagen
Nicht in Äonen untergehn. —
Im Vorgefühl von solchem hohen Glück
Geniess’ ich jetzt den höchsten Augenblick.

Faust, Part II, Act V, Lines 11574-11586


Tomas Mann observed that the character of Mephistopheles is more interesting than Dr Faust's person. Mephistopheles is the wiser of the two. Their joint forays into the various periods of history and realms of society are an adult education for Faust who fully enjoys his newly acquired carnal, esthetic, intellectual, political, and business acumens.

In the end Mephistopheles is cheated by the contract, and Faust's soul slips from his hands. It is saved by Gretchen's love. Faust, the modern man, has been free to pursue without restrictions his bodily lusts as well as all knowledge, riches, power, beauty and virtue (all the cardinal values) his time and society offer. And, since he also has found love, Faust's soul will live for ever in loving memory. To all his accomplishments eternity is added.

Not bad.


This is the end of Volume 7 and of the maim text of The Many-Splendored Society