Robert Staughton Lynd

American sociologist

Robert Staughton Lynd (September 26, 1892November 1, 1970) was an American sociologist, and professor at Columbia University, New York City.

Quotes edit

  • I see the tasks of social sciences to discover what kinds of order actually do exist in the whole range of the behavior of human beings; what kind of functional relationships between different parts of culture exist in space and over time, and what functionally more useful kinds of order can be created.
  • The failure of the social sciences to think through and to integrate their several responsibilities for the common problem of relating the analysis of parts to the analysis of the whole constitutes one of the major lags crippling their utility as human tools of knowledge.
  • The preponderant weight of economic power in the Constitutional Convention, while conceding the outward forms of political democracy, went on at once to curb the exercise of the very power it had just granted; it crippled the force of democratic power at the source by parceling up this power by a marvelously dexterous system of barriers to its expression. Thus political equality under the ballot was granted on the unstated but factually double-locked assumption that the people must refrain from seeking the extension of that equality to the economic sphere. In short, the attempted harmonious marriage of democracy to capitalism doomed genuinely popular control from the start.
    • Foreword to Business as a System of Power (1943), p. vii
  • Liberal democracy has never dared face the fact that industrial capitalism is an intensely coercive form of organization of society that cumulatively constrains men and all of their institutions to work the will of the minority who hold and wield economic power; and that this relentless warping of men's lives and forms of association becomes less and less the result of voluntary decisions by "bad" or "good" men and more and more an impersonal web of coercions dictated by the need to keep "the system" running.
    • Foreword to Business as a System of Power (1943), p. xii

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