Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 327–336 | Cite as

FromMiddletown to Middletown III: A critical review

  • Mark C. Smith


The two books and over a dozen articles that have come out of the recent Middletown III Project point to the relative lack of social change in Middletown during the fifty years since the Lynds' initial study. What the authors do not note is the extensive change in their view of social science from that of the Lynds. InMiddletown and throughout his career, Robert Lynd criticized the materialism of American culture and demanded that social science play an active role in the creation of a better society. Theodore Caplow and his Middletown III associates, on the other hand, avoid questions about the quality of life and generally praise the community's social institutions. Indeed, their conclusions, especially in their books, are often more complimentary than their own results warrant. The authors of Middletown III have accepted the people of Middletown at their own estimation. In so doing, they have abandoned the Lynds' perspective of the outside, critical observer and joined the chorus of self-satisfied Middletowners. Such a viewpoint represents a crucial shift in the perspective of American social science.


Social Science Social Psychology Active Role Initial Study Social Change 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark C. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Behavioral and Cultural Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan Antonio

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