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Newton, K. (1967). Jules Henry: Culture against man. London, Tavistock, 1966. pp. xiv + 495. 45s. Paper 35s.. J. Anal. Psychol., 12(2):184-185.

(1967). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 12(2):184-185

Jules Henry: Culture against man. London, Tavistock, 1966. pp. xiv + 495. 45s. Paper 35s.

Review by:
Kate Newton

In this study of contemporary American culture, the author makes no claim to be objective and describes his book as a passionate ethnography. His aim is to validate his title, ‘Culture against man’.

The book, which covers a wide field, is divided into three sections. In section 1, Henry introduces his theme by comparing conditions in primitive and modern societies and past and present trends in the American character. He shows how society, which originally served man by ensuring his physical survival through providing for his material and social needs, is also against him in so far as it does not provide conditions in which he can achieve emotional satisfaction and inner development. There has always been this dichotomy, but contemporary institutions are seen as particularly destructive in this respect.

He considers the ways in which scientific and technological developments, by creating the potential for meeting unlimited material demands, have fundamentally affected the economic structure. Prosperity now depends upon constant expansion both of output and demand. Henry discusses in some detail the effects on working and social conditions in terms of the pressures which have arisen, including the emphasis on material values, and the resulting insecurity, frustration and fear. He postulates a social psycho-pathology, describes culturally engendered drives and values, and links his formulation with psychoanalytic concepts. His description of current social values is amplified by an analysis of advertising.

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