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Davis, E.B. (1965). Children of Bondage. The Personality Development of Negro Youth in the Urban South: By Allison and John Dollard. (Orig. published by the American Council on Education, 1940.) New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1964. 299 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 34:302-303.

(1965). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 34:302-303

Children of Bondage. The Personality Development of Negro Youth in the Urban South: By Allison and John Dollard. (Orig. published by the American Council on Education, 1940.) New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1964. 299 pp.

Review by:
Elizabeth B. Davis

This work has marked relevance to the problems with which the nation as a whole, through its War on Poverty, and a large segment of the clinical psychiatric world are now actively engaged. Published first in 1940, its freshness and contemporary flavor attest both to the farsightedness of the authors and to the dearth of scholarly work on the subject of the specific effects of poverty on the development of Negro youth which, as the authors show, is undoubtedly the most pervasive and far-reaching effect of systematic segregation and discrimination.

Drs. Davis and Dollard, using the technique of 'depth interviewing', then in its early stages of development as a tool of sociological research, have given us intimate and life-sized views of several Southern Negro youths, and of the specific familial, social, economic, and political environments in which they grew up. The portraits are of individual human beings, rather than of 'types', though the effort to delineate group characteristics as a means of furthering the scientific goal of classification is clearly visible, and properly so, throughout the work.

The authors believe that personality is formed by the interplay between the infant's reactive tendencies molded in his early relationships to parents and siblings, and the larger social milieu into which he emerges at the end of infancy. Their case studies clearly demonstrate the validity of this concept. Although much attention is given to some aspects of constitutional or genetically determined traits, only in one case (Judy) is the impact of socially related physical deprivation on personality development noted.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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