Robert Lynd

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lynd, Robert


Born Sept. 26, 1892, in New Albany, Ind.; died Nov. 1, 1970, in New York. American sociologist. Professor at Columbia University (1931–60).

Lynd’s most important works, written jointly with his wife, H. M. Lynd—Middletown (1929) and Middletown in Transition (1937)—constitute one of sociology’s first attempts at functional analysis of social life (income sources, home economics, raising of children, leisure time, participation in public life) in an average city and the dynamics of social development. The study covered the city of Muncie, Ind., and was based on direct research, an enormous number of surveys, and studies of statistical and historical materials. Lynd’s theoretical model, however, is not a penetrating one, although it was influenced to a certain extent by the works of Marx. Lynd based his analysis on a division of the population of the city into two fundamental classes—the working class, which includes everyone whose professional activity is associated with operations involving material objects, and the class of entrepreneurs (businessmen), consisting of those who in some way supervise people.

Lynd’s works, although inconsistent, are critical of American imperialism. He demonstrated the growing influence of monopolies after the economic crisis of 1929. Lynd formulated the concept that changes in the sphere of technology and production are accepted and recognized more quickly than new social ideas and ideals.

In recent years Lynd analyzed the nature and functions of power, viewing it as a social institution that supposedly regulates and “harmonizes” relations among different social groups. Lynd was an opponent of the neopositivist idea of a sociology free from ideological values. He affirmed the necessity of a critical attitude toward reality. Lynd’s works influenced American and European bourgeois sociology, particularly the development of research on various collectives, groups, and communities.


Middletown. New York, 1929.
Middletown in Transition. New York, 1937.
“Power in American Society as Resource and Problem.” In A. Kornhauser, ed., Problems of Power in American Democracy. Detroit, 1957.
Knowledge for What? Princeton, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Bruna compares Irish travel writers who were mostly contemporary with Synge's short life (1871-1909) and who paid attention to the same places (8): Mary Banim {Here and There through Ireland, 1891-92), William Bulfin (Rambles in Eirinn, 1907), Emily Lawless (Kerry, 1882), Robert Lynd {Rambles in Ireland, 1909, 1912), Agnes O'Farrelly (Smaointe ar Arainn--Thoughts on Aran, 1901), Somerville and Ross {Some Irish Yesterdays, 1906), Katharine Tynan (Irish Guide, 1909, and journalism re.
The Lynds viewed the authority achieved by consumer culture as a danger to democracy, because, as Robert Lynd warned, Americans were more important to their country as consumers than they were as citizens.
"Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive." - Robert Lynd
A number of views are canvassed from both sides of the Atlantic, including those of Erich Fromm, Robert Lynd, Bertrand Russell, and Hornell Hart.
Like Lewis Feuer, he credits sociologist Robert Lynd with the major role in midwifing the relocation of the Frankfurt School to Columbia University.
After attending the Galway races in 1912 essayist Robert Lynd concluded that the people of Galway 'seem to look on law and order as a foreign and superfluous thing'.
Wilson sent me on to Columbia to Robert Lynd, who in his turn helped me to broaden my understanding of class and power in America.
Sylvia Dryhurst Lynd (1888-1952) was the wife of Robert Lynd (1879-1949), who was the literary editor of The Daily News.
The claims are everywhere, from Anita Forbes's 1921 high school text, which asserted that "[i]n no other period of English literature has poetry been so varied, so like an elaborate prism which flashes new beauty to each eye" (v); to Robert Lynd's Anthology of Modern Verse, which boasted that this was "an anthology that gives a better idea of the diffuse and ubiquitous riches of recent poetry than any that has yet appeared" (1923: xxiii); to F.
In 1939 sociologist Robert Lynd wrote the book Knowledge For What?
Needless to say, just because Chris Arthur is from Northern Ireland does not mean that he is obliged to reproduce the tone of the popular and successful Northern essayist, Robert Lynd (1879-1949).