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The Pursuit of Loneliness, 20th Anniversary Edition Paperback – July 1, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0807042014 ISBN-10: 0807042013 Edition: 3rd

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Pursuit of Loneliness is still worth reading because it honors the mission of sociology not to train a caste of knowers but to contribute to society's knowledge of itself." – from the introduction by Todd Gitlin

"If I had to select a single book by which to tell a stranger what life in this country has become and why, it would be this one." – Edgar Z. Friedenberg in The New York Review of Books

"A brilliant, sweeping and revelant critique ... An insightful, well-written, and thought-provoking book that illumines each of the many aspects of American culture that it touches." –  Kenneth Keniston in The New York Times 

About the Author

Philip Slater lives in Santa Cruz, California. 
Todd Gitlin is professor of sociology at the University of California/Berkeley. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 3 edition (July 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807042013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807042014
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is 42 years old, not twenty, and it made a huge impact on me in 1970!
GarageStudio
The Pursuit of Loneliness is a work of utmost importance to anyone who cares about where American society has been and why it is in its current state today.
DRB
And then you have to decide if the l960s really do have something to say to us now --- and if you find more possibility for yourself in one camp or another.
Jesse Kornbluth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Today there is so much cultural revisionism and retooling of the facts surrounding the clash between the predominating mainstream material culture and the youthful counterculture that one often mutters in disgust at the kind of garish, superficial nonsense being promulgated by the popular media to the effect that the sixties generation was just about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Just fun and games, folks; nothing but fun and games. There is hardly a mention of the very serious, well-thought-through criticisms of materialism, racism, and greed that were so essential to the beginning of the conflict in the sixties. While no one who was there will deny each of these elements (the media's holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock & roll) contributed to the general cultural atmosphere of openness and emotional experimentation and intoxication, it can hardly be truthfully described so simply or in such reductionist terms. The sixties generation, and the counterculture they devised, was first and foremost an intellectual, philosophical, and even spiritual tirade against the manifestly bankrupt morals, ideas, and lifestyles of the dominant society. One of the predominating characteristics of the counterculture was its sense of moral outrage at the ethics, policies, and blatant racism in the public domain. Slater details how and why the two cultures clashed, and what the likely results would be. Unlike his younger admirers, Slater understood the power of the dominant culture, and just how perilous the position of the counterculture was growing to be. In this sense, he anticipated the kinds of events like the shootings at Kent State and in the Deep South that began the reaction and denouement of the counterculture.Read more ›
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By DRB on May 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Pursuit of Loneliness is a work of utmost importance to anyone who cares about where American society has been and why it is in its current state today. Slater's characterization of what is commonly referred to by sociologists as the "American Dream Thesis" is eloquent and entirely on point. His identification and synthesis of what sex roles have become in modern American society is in-depth and complex yet so simple to understand. Slater has constructed three areas in which we as Americans frustrate our basic needs. Slater says that our traditions, values, beliefs, and institutions each contribute to our continual frustration of our inherent desire for community, engagement, and dependence. The Pursuit of Loneliness is a no-nonsense socilogical interpretation of American society's drive towards excessive individualism, and is a must read for anyone hoping to gain an understanding of why American society is in its current state.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Ashley on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you are an American living in the United States you need to buy this book. It was written about the 20th century but applies now more than ever. It makes you ask yourself why you use technology to distance yourself from people when you should be getting closer. That may sound hippie-ish, but ask yourslef if you've ever said in your job "I only work here." to another person who had a problem. If you have, you need to realize that democracy doesn't come from goods. It starts from people. It'll knock your socks off. If you aren't American you'll probably want it to see what a sorry state we're in, but with "Californication" theories, you might not be too far off.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Dahl VINE VOICE on March 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Timeless truths from a classic in sociology. It's rather amazing to me how prescient Slater truly was. Many of his observations remain (fortunately or unfortunately) accurate today.

One of the major contributions of this work is Slater's coining of the term "The Toilet Assumption." He defines the concept as follows:

The Toilet Assumption, for one - the belief that social unpleasantness, once flushed out of sight. ceases to exist-remains cenntra1 to American culture. P. xii

Our ideas about institutionalizing the aged, psychotic, retarded, and infirm are based on a pattern of thought that we might call the Toilet Assumption - the notion that unwanted matter, unwanted difficulties, unwanted complexities and obstacles will disappear if they're removed from our immediate field of vision. P. 19

Slater's characterization of economists still causes many to smile in acknowledgment of his accuracy in the following:

Economists - "But it would be hard to find a field more fraught with mystification than economics, partly because it figures so strongly in political disputes. Most people feel a vague but insistent skepticism about professional economists, the certainty of whose predictive pronouncements varies inversely with their accuracy. Government economists tend to take the position that the public is just naïve, ignorant of the complexities of economic processes. The fact that their own superior knowledge rarely leads them to agree with one another doesn't seem to distress them. Nor does the fact that our economy has become progressively sicker in response to their ministrations." P.
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