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Gorer, G. (1965). On the Theory of Social Change: By Everett E. Hagen. (London: Tavistock, 1964. Pp. 557. 63s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:398-399.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:398-399

On the Theory of Social Change: By Everett E. Hagen. (London: Tavistock, 1964. Pp. 557. 63s.)

Review by:
Geoffrey Gorer

The problem which Professor Hagen has posed in this book is why, in the contemporary world, some of the technologically undeveloped nations are quick to adopt Western technology while others are resistent. The solution he proposes, after a rapid survey and discarding of existing theories of the causes for economic growth, is found in his idiosyncratic version of personality theory.

The language he employs for his theory of personality is principally derived from Eric Erikson, Henry Murray, and Clyde and Florence Kluckhohn; but nearly everybody who has been working in Harvard or at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in recent years has contributed some terms. This vocabulary is used for one of the simplest dichotomies of personality types since Jung's introvert-extravert polarity.

According to Hagen, all human personalities in all human societies are either authoritarian or innovational. All members of traditional and/or peasant societies have authoritarian characters, are caught in an unresolved oedipal conflict with their authoritarian fathers, and are resistant to change. All traditional societies are divided into masses and élites. If a 'disturbing event' occurs which disrupts the traditional societies, its members undergo a 'withdrawal of status respect'. This is followed in the next generation by 'retreatism', in which the authoritarian father is no longer able to exercise his authoritarianism. Therefore in the third generation the power and emotional sway of the father is weakened and that of the mother strengthened: the child's personality is freed and becomes innovational and creative, so that he can embrace modern technology and the American way of life.

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