Marienthal (Ppr)

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Overview

"One of the main theses of the Marienthal study was that prolonged unemployment leads to a state of apathy in which the victims do not utilize any longer even the few opportunities left to them. The vicious cycle between reduced opportunities and reduced level of aspiration has remained the focus of all subsequent discussions." So begin the opening remarks to the English-language edition of what has become a major class in the literature of social stratification.

The study on which Marienthal is based was conducted in 1930 in Austria, at the time of a depression that was worse than anything experienced in the United States. But the substantive problem is still very much with us, although our focus is now poverty rather than unemployment. In Austria, the institutional response to mass unemployment was the dole. Unlike the work relief programs of the New Deal, the dole system left workers destitute and idle. The essential finding of this research is that when people are deprived of work, there is a breakdown in the personality structure of a group.

Marienthal represents a colossal breakthrough in social research. It provides a combination of quantification and interpretive analysis of qualitative material-an approach that remains in the forefront of present-day research design. The work combines statistical data at hand, case studies, information on historical background of those being studied, and questionnaires combined with solicited reports that enhances a sense of daily life without intrusion by investigators. The work provides a unique insight into how creative innovations can assist in overcoming collective deprivations.

The work of Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, and Hans Zeisel was sponsored by the then newly created Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna. Each of the authors went on to extraordinary professional careers. Jahoda held positions at New York University, Brunel University, and the University of Sussex. Lazarsfeld spent the better part of his career from 1933 to his death at Columbia University in New York City. Zeisel came to the University of Chicago after the rise of Nazism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Marienthal is a study of the effects of unemployment on community structure and community life. . . . In February I93o the looms of the textile factory in Marienthal were finally stopped: three-quarters of the 478 families in the village thus became dependent on unemployment benefits for their existence. Subsequently, in the latter part of 1931 a team of psychologists, concerned with the application of psychology to social and economic problems, began an intensive investigation into the consequences of long-term unemployment on the lives of the people of this Austrian village. . . . There cannot be many empirical studies of this nature that merit translation and re-publication forty years after their initial appearance. Marienthal is an exception.”

—Gavin Mackenzie, The British Journal of Sociology

“Austria in 1930 was gripped by a depression much worse than anything we were ever to know. A sociologically oriented group attached to the Institute of Psychology at the University of Vienna moved at the time to study a closed rural community so as to better understand the various, ill-understood effects of unemployment. . . . [A] compliment: we should not have had to wait 40 years for the writers to finally authorize a translation and seek its publication.”

—Arthur Shostak, Social Forces

“Jahoda, Lazarsfeld, and Zeise. . . started the study of unemployment just when it was becoming a problem of the whole western industrial world; they moved from little, but sophisticated, Austria at a crucial moment; with singular enterprise and ingenuity they become leaders in the new survey movement of that part of the world which joins the highest level of material consumption of goods and services with some of the world's most stubborn and tragic unemployment and poverty, a kind of ironically affluent unemployment and poverty when compared with that of most of the world's population. . . . Their small book is one of the crucial documents in the career of modern empirical social science (with plenty of implication for the more theoretical as well); also it was a step in three notable personal careers in our field.”

—Everett C. Hughes, Contemporary Sociology

“What happens to people as personalities, as family members, as friends, as neighbors, etc., while experiencing the increasing pressures of impoverishment? These are questions that are as relevant today for impoverished communities throughout the world as they were in 1931-32 for a small Austrian community.”

—Anthony L. Laruffa, American Anthropologist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765809445
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul F. Lazarsfeld (1901-1976), one of the major figures in twentieth-century sociology, was the founder of Columbia University's Bureau for Applied Social Research. He is the coauthor of Marienthal, available from Transaction.

Christian Fleck is professor of sociology at the University of Graz, Austria. He is author of many papers and essays on the history of European social theory.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Foreword to the American Edition: Forty Years Later
1 Introduction 1
2 The Industrial Village 11
3 The Living Standard 17
4 Menus and Budgets 25
5 A Weary Community 36
6 Response to Deprivation 45
7 The Meaning of Time 66
8 Fading Resilience 78
Afterword: Toward a History of Sociography 99
Index 127
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