Consciousness of Community

Fred Strodtbeck, “Family Interaction, Values, and Achievement,” in Talent and Society: New Perspectives in the Identification of Talent, Princeton, Van Notrand Company, 1958, 157

The Calvinist’s dictum that “each man is his brother’s keeper” has given way in the United States to a less moralistic rationale based upon a recognition of the interdependencies in modern society. Just as the whole Jewish community could vicariously participate in the charities of its wealthiest members, there is a sense in which the strengthening of various aspects of American society is recognized as contributing to the common good.

The Jew from the older culture, enabled by his success to assume a responsibility for the community, had little choice in the matter. The social pressures were great, and they were ordinarily responded to with pride and rewarded by prominence in the community forum. The identification went beyond the extended family. The giver was not to be rewarded in kind; his reward came from community recognition. Such community identification—as contrasted with family identification—has not been highly developed among Southern Italians. Reduced sensitivity to community goals is believed to inhibit the near altruistic orientations which in adolescence and early maturity lead individuals to make prolonged personal sacrifices to enter such processions as medicine or the law.


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