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Man and the multitude. This University of Illinois Centennial symposium presented by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences studies contemporary man poised between past and future and between isolation and the community of the world. Guest speakers and panel members comment on the conflicting forces which push men apart from others. And into communion with others. Lectures in this series will be followed by discussions involving speakers visiting professors and University of Illinois faculty members as well as interested students. Our speaker Daniel J Boston has been professor of American history at the University of Chicago since 1944. He has written extensively and one of his best known works is entitled The American. It's a three volume study of American society. He has also written the image a guide to pseudo events in America. The genius of American politics America and the image of Europe. The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson and the
mysterious science of the law. As a Rhodes scholar at Oxford Mr. Bush then attained highest honors into law degrees and is qualified to plead in Her Majesty's high courts has also been admitted to the bar in Massachusetts. Mr Boston has been visiting professor at the University of Rome 1953 University of Kioto 1959 the Sorbonne 1964 and Cambridge University. He will now speak on the culture of communications. The topic that has been assigned is man and the multitude. And I think that it may be a symptom of the elusiveness of the subject that I will. Take refuge this evening in a middle to finding the inscrutable
and the multitude are unmanageable. I will try to talk about another conception which seems to me to be a middle term between man and the multitude and which is seem to me to be a key to much that is distinctive in American civilization. This is the concept of community and the concept of community of how men are held together in groups is one that has seemed to me to be a clue to many things about our culture that cannot otherwise be understood. I have felt that the alternatives of individual ism versus socialism or collectivism that this alternative is inapplicable to American culture and that we have under the incentive of American circumstances with the advantages of the desire to take refuge
from the problems of European civilization civilization elsewhere. We have developed a peculiar and distinctive approach to the problem of community. It seems to me that in the several stages of American civilization that we have taken different approaches to the problem of community and these approaches have been suggestive both of the special opportunities and of the special difficulties of those stages in our national life. The first stage which I have described in part in the book the Americans the colonial experience is one in which I talk about the concept of community being explored by groups who come with a vision a vision and a mission. The prototype of such a group would of course be the New England Puritans.
People who were held together by shared purposes and shared ideals. The second stage in the. Development in the mutation. I would rather say of the American concept of community is one which I explore in the Americans and I feel experience in part. And these are communities held together by function and collaboration. The westward moving wagon trains. The groups of men and women who are held together by the desire to get to the other side of the continent who formed their constitutions and their bylaws in order the better to reach their destination. The members of the new communities the upstart cities of which Chicago my own city would be an example were places held together by people who were engaged in some common activity and who were near to
one another. It was the age of common enterprise the age of neighborhood. Now in our own age. And I have been asked to explore this evening some of the consequences of the growth of mass communication is that of the peculiar technology of our. Century. The implication for the individual in America. In our age. There is a rather different concept of community which has developed it's what I would call the ubiquitous community. Or the everywhere community. I almost hesitate to use the word community for this purpose because what holds people together in these groups now is no longer a shared ideal. It is no longer a collaboration toward a common purpose
but it's something else. I'm not sure I can. Provide a simple term to describe all these groups. But it's a remarkable kind of grouping of Mammon. Which is characterized by the fact that the people in these groups often have never seen one another. What I mean when I say that it's the everywhere or the ubiquitous community. The people in these groups have a sense of common destiny of common problems even though they have never met one another. Now the particular group I would like to talk about. Which is I think I'm a novelty of this century and its American form is what I would call the community of norms an O R M s norms. In the past people have of course always been aware
of their membership in groups of people who were not physically present. People of course were aware of their membership in families or in cities communities where the other members were nearby but they also of course were aware that they were children or that they were at all such that they were husbands or wives that they were poor or rich or aged or young. They were aware of their membership in certain. Groups but I would suggest and that's what I now want to try to explain that the peculiar circumstances of American life including our technology and wealth have tended to develop. Many category many new kinds of models which describe groups models with which we can associate ourselves and that
these models then which I describe as norms afte fact the feeling we have of our relationship to everybody else. The rise of norms has as well as one of its results the development of what I would call normal consciousness the consciousness or duty or the probability of our conforming to a certain model. And let me try to explain what I mean. I don't like to use a jargon word much less to make up jargon. But I I think that in this case there is something to be said for using a word that has not been too commonly applied in this connection. The word normal comes through the Latin eventually from the Greek and is related to the word and meaning knowledge in Greek in Latin the word Norm means a carpenter's
measure and it came into the English language about and first recorded using an English dictionary sixteen seventy six. Then the word normal was Anglicized from it. In 1821 when it began to mean any measure a standard a model or a pattern. And I would like to try to describe to you the circumstances which you have brought into being these many norms and have made these norms the patterns for our own development and for our thinking about other people as well. If I were God going to try to find a parable which might have the overtones that that might help us here I would borrow the figure of the so-called leader in the era of the French Revolution who you will recall to have said there is the crowd. I must follow them. I am their leader.
Now the counterpart to that in the present case would be the individual who asks How can I be myself. I must discover my personality type so I can be true to it. Now how have we come to develop an awareness that there are many models of behavior many prototypes and how have these prototypes come to affect our thinking about ourselves. Now the first important development in this connection. Is the development of statistics. We forget it's easy to forget how recent is the science of statistics in Western civilization. The in the United States we had a peculiar incentive to become interested in statistics from the fact that we set
out to form a federal system and that there was some notion that representation of different parts of the Union should somehow be proportionate to the numbers of people in the States. Some of the federal constitution in 1787 included a provision for a census. This was a nearly unprecedented phenomena. The notion being that since the country was going to grow and since the representation of different states should have different parts should vary with the size of the population. It was necessary to have a periodic count but this was before even before the word statistics had entered the English language. They weren't statistics and they came into the English language from the German around 1790 and oddly enough all this is obvious when we start thinking about it.
It is related to the idea of state and the notion of a state. Statistics were originally those figures which were collected in order to give people an idea of the strength of their state. It was tied to the rise of nationalism. The federal census began as a very meager kind of collection of information bought by 1850 the 7th census there. The Census became that in that year actually it began to become an important collection of quantitative information about the whole United States. Interestingly enough it was a kind of byproduct of the conflict between the states. The director of the census of the seventh census was DeBoer who came from Louisiana and was very much concerned with the problem of the development of the economy and the
diversification of the economy of the cell. His principal helper was let me it was shock who came from Massachusetts and who was very much interested in public health and vital statistics. So these two elements which have remained important in our interest in statistics were at the very beginning of the development and the elaboration of the census. The North-South conflict with the approach of the Civil War further encouraged an interest in quantity and tact arising the economies of the different parts of the country. Parents and helpers impending crisis which was probably the most important nonfiction work and slavery work published in 1857 was a statistical really a statistical book trying to typify or characterize the civilization of the south in a numerical way. Then I look into the science of statistics. I had only lately taken place a Belgian by the name of Kit's
and Lennie had developed a notion of morals to test a case he had applied in the Dutch census of eight hundred twenty nine into the notion of social physics or the DNA. As he put it. And this starred some people in the United States in Boston to found an American Statistical Association in 1839. The enthusiasm for the statistics. Which I was going to say I was saw him say is not I've made but in any case these the enthusiasm has surely been justified by the the results of the works of statisticians but it reached its peak I would say before the development of modern social science. Ends and the North who was the first head of a permanent census office and the first permanent census although it was not found on 19 and before that time there had been the practice had been simply to scramble together a
group of specialists especially people who were willing to take on the job of collecting a census and in between sentences there was no census office at all but. North at the 70th anniversary of the association went so far as to divide all modern history into the non statistical era or the era of superstition and these statistics in which we now live. Now are very important but partly true the only technological development contributed to this and to the opportunities of statistics. There was a man by the name of Herman Hollerith h o w o r i th who developed a machine the Hollerith machine still is in use in time for the census of 1890 and the importance of this machine was that he provided a simple way of correlating information. Until the
Hollerith machine or others like it if you wanted to know how many barbers United States had three children and worked in a small town you would have to set people to work going through all the census card sheets of the census but Hollerith developed the idea of the punch punching holes and in cards and this of course was the grandparent of the IBM which had some pond and sound. Once you had a Hollerith machine it became possible not only to collect figures on how many barbers there were but to discover what other characteristics would be found among likely to be found among people who were practicing them say the robber. And then of course it became possible to that other correlations. So then it it this was the
opening waves for what I would now call the concept of norms. The opportunity to group people by characteristics so that a spectator or a citizen looking at these groups could decide where he belonged. Now another. Important development in Iran which we forget the importance of today and you probably won't believe me when I remind you there's a tell you of how recent this develop was a very important development was the rise of the ready made clothing industry. The reason for this was that until about the middle of the 19th century. It was assumed and this perhaps was a humanistic a consequence of humanistic beliefs or Christian beliefs in the uniqueness of every person. I was taught that every human was of course unique and also that
every human body was unique. And it was therefore assume that if you wanted to have a suit of clothes or a drastic really fit you you would have to have it made by your mother or your wife or your sister. And if you if you could afford it something more elegant You might go to a tailor he would take your measurements and make a suit of clothes to fit you. It was assumed that it was futile. To manufacture clothing that would really fit. And the symbol of this was the astonishing fact that as late as 1850 by the year 1850 there were some shoes being manufactured for sale in stores. But until about that day it still was that were manufactured for sale and stores were what they called straights that as there was no distinction made between the right and the left foot because it was thought that everybody's foot
was unique. And then if you wanted to have a pair of shoes that would really fits you you should go to a cobbler or a shoe maker. If you were so poor that you had to buy them in a shop then you weren't too particular about the thin in any way or class people were not too sensitive about these things anyway. They were used to aches and pains. But a number of. Unpredictable forces led to the development of the science of anthro palmistry as it came to be called the science of human measurements. And one of the most important factors was the civil war. The American Civil War because it was necessary suddenly to produce uniforms and garments including shoes for large numbers of people. And when this was done it was discovered by the Quartermaster
Corps and the people who usually were not very good at discovering things like this or anything else but still in this case they have discovered that there was a certain recurrence of sizes and that if you manufactured jackets and made a certain number of them 30 AIDS and a certain number 42 that you would have the proper sizes to fit least in the military way more or less fit the people for whom they were designed. And this set people thinking about the possibility that maybe people were not maybe all people were not different in their dimensions and in the year 1888 pioneer book which is has not had its view was written by man by the name of Daniel Edward Ryan called human proportions in Grove which was a study of the way in which the bodily dimensions. Change. From his birth time when he
first wears garments until manhood. And this then of course dispose of one of the main problems which was how to make sizes that would fit people in in the younger ages when the proportions are rather different. Well this was however a very important development because it not only made possible the ready made clothing business and made possible what we should call the democracy of clothing so that in the United States for the first time in history perhaps since the age of the caveman became impossible or nearly impossible to discover a man's social class by looking at the theater of his clothing. It also incidentally reminded people that they sit it into classes into which other people fit. A man was a size 40 too or a size 38 38 long or short or whatever but he inevitably was reminded that his pattern form of his body was similar to that
of a man. Now the same kind of were now against tendencies going on in the world of business and some of the more commonplace inventions what we the ones which we now consider in place contributed a great deal to this. One of the most important of these was the cash register which had the effect of making it possible for a small businessman to discover the intake. How much they had received in a given day it is remarkable when you look in or try to learn something about the history of small businesses in the early 19th century our little margins knew about the amount of. Their income and the amount they were spending on overhead and the cash register was patented in 1879 the
incentive to it was rather different from that which I mentioned it was first called Reading is incorruptible cashier and the incentive for its invention was that Mr. James rity who ran a cafe saloon in Dayton Ohio discovered that although his bar was constantly filled with customers somehow the cash till the end of the day didn't have much money in it. And this puzzled him understandably and he set a watch on the bartender and found that the bartender was pocketing the money. He then worked on a machine. Which would be so constructed that snorted to put money in it or take money out of it you had to ring a bell that was the important feature of the cash register. That is sound had to be made whenever you took the change out of the drawer and he found that he made money
saloon after that and this was the the. The background is this. It was revealed that he was the founder of the National Cash Register Company which is still in existence and which set a pattern for the development of the art of salesmanship. A man with a name of John Henry Patterson who was a pioneer in the development of sales organization is one of the first men in the country to set to develop the idea of sales territories exclusive territories and that sort of thing and he in order to to and to encourage salesman he would delineate a geographic territory and assign it to a salesman and then set a norm. Decided that there would be a certain amount of a certain number of times or that one should expect to be sold in that area and that would be what he would expect of that salesman. The National Cash Register Company flourished. In fact their official history said that the bell on the cash drawer like the historic revolutionary shot fired at
Lexington was heard around the world. But the consequence of the developing of the cash register and other easy ways of keeping accounts because this was what Patterson Patterson the sales pitch was on was the importance of making proper financial records that was those were the words he used. This gospel had the effect of making people aware of the class of business into which they fit. Within the kind of business that took in 10000 dollars a year of $5000 a year which were good months for receipts and so on. Meanwhile there were other developments that contributed to Norm what I would call Norm consciousness in the in the area income. And one of the most important which lately we have all been reminded of was the income tax. The 16th Amendment to the Constitution which became law in 1913. Gradually touched more and more Americans and it had the effect
which I could document for example Claude Hopkins who has bought a biography of late have been reading Claude Hopkins was a pioneer in advertising business called Hopkins remarks and until it the income tax he never knew how much money he made in a given year. There was no reason why he should calculate. But after the income tax came into being people American citizens who are astonishingly law abiding began to calculate their income by the mid 1960s or over one third of the population of the United States and over half that was of voting age were filing income tax return and that meant that all these people had the cheering or the depressing knowledge that they were in the $4000 a year or the $40000 a year bracket as the case may be. But people were reminded of the categories into which they fitted and into which their income and expenditures. Now
part of our movement which became extremely important from the point of view of our subjective thinking about ourselves and our development was to be extremely important was the rise of intelligence tests and personality tests and person what I would call personal mindedness. It was not until about the time of World War One that the idea of the intelligence test became important. In fact it would have been a Seimone test for power school children was not introduced into England in the United States till about 1980 it was tried in Paris and 1005. Then the notion of the IQ was developed by a man by the name of Stern. Born in Germany and came the United States that was first introduced in 1912. And then Lewis Terman who did most of his work at Stanford revised to be in a small test and produced a German test in one thousand eighteen
will go in.
Man and the multitude
Daniel J. Boorstin, part one
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University of Illinois
WILL Illinois Public Media
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, presents Daniel J. Boorstin, University of Chicago, on "The Culture of Communications."
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A lecture series commemorating the centennial of the University of Illinois.
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Producing Organization: University of Illinois
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
Speaker: Boorstin, Daniel J. (Daniel Joseph), 1914-2004
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-41-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:08
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Chicago: “Man and the multitude; Daniel J. Boorstin, part one,” 1967-10-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “Man and the multitude; Daniel J. Boorstin, part one.” 1967-10-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Man and the multitude; Daniel J. Boorstin, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from