Paul Diesing takes an innovative, sometimes iconoclastic look at social scientists at work in many disciplines.
Fifteen essays examine the cultural diversity of America: urbanites in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, rural communities in the American West, Hispanics in Wisconsin, Samoans in California, the Amish, and the utopian religious communities of the Shakers and Oneida. The essays address a range of topics and occupations-miners, whalers, farmers, factory workers, physicians and nurses-to consider such questions as why some religious sects remain distinctive, separate, and viable; how groups use of such things as nicknames and family reunions to maintain ties within the community; how immigrant communities organize to sustain traditional cultural activities.
Before movies, radio, and television challenged the hegemony of the printed word, the Saturday Evening Post was the preeminent vehicle of mass culture in the United States. And to the extent that a mass medium can be the expression of a single individual, this magazine, with a peak circulation of almost three million copies a week, was the expression of its editor, George Horace Lorimer. Cohn shows how Lorimer made the Post into a uniquely powerful magazine that both celebrated and helped form the values of the time.