Change and Stability: A Cross-National Analysis of Social Structure and Personality

Book Info

  • Length: 290 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"
  • Rights: World

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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-176-9
  • Publish date: August 2006
  • List Price: $55.95
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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-175-2
  • Publish date: December 2005
  • List Price: $163.00
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This book presents an intensive cross-national analysis of social structure and personality, testing the generality of the thesis that position in the larger social structure affects (and is affected by) personality largely because of the linkages between social-structural position with proximate conditions of life, and of proximate conditions of life with personality. Kohn and his collaborators have focused their research on two basic dimensions of social structure (class and stratification), the proximate conditions of life most directly related to class and stratification (job conditions), and three fundamental aspects of personality (intellectual flexibility, self-directedness of orientation, and feelings of well-being or distress). Their findings for the United States, then-socialist Poland, and Japan demonstrate remarkable cross-national similarities across cultures and economic systems, along with an intriguing cross-national difference between socialist Poland and the capitalist U.S. and Japan, in the relationships of class and stratification with job conditions and thus with personality during times of apparent social stability. Kohn then asks whether the cross-nationally consistent relationships could possibly survive the conditions of radical social change entailed in the transition of Poland and Ukraine from socialism to nascent capitalism, and whether the one major difference between socialist Poland and the capitalist countries would persist when Poland and Ukraine were no longer socialist. The cross-national similarities endure, despite social instability and, in Ukraine, even despite personality itself becoming astonishingly unstable; and the cross-national difference has disappeared with the transition from socialism to nascent capitalism.

Author Info

Melvin L. Kohn, Professor of Sociology at the Johns Hopkins University, is a former President of the American Sociological Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Change and Stability is the culmination of more than five decades of research conducted by Melvin Kohn, one of the most influential scholars working in the social structure and personality tradition. … One of Kohn’s most valuable contributions is explicating the proximate pathways that link the macro and micro: he has demonstrated persuasively that the nature of one’s social and occupational roles, particularly the opportunity to practice self-direction and intellectual flexibility, account for part of the link between social stratification and personality. … By reading his book, they may acquire important insights into how an esteemed scholar conceptualizes, develops, and carries out a methodologically rigorous and theoretically cohesive research program, amasses data to evaluate hypotheses across a range of social and cultural contexts, develops enduring and successful research collaborations, and navigates the practical challenges of research. … One of the main contributions of Change and Stability is that the book does not simply describe the results of sociological research; rather, it describes the process and politics of carrying out an influential program of research over the span of a more than five-decade career. ”
Social Forces

“Melvin Kohn has labored almost a half century examining the relationship between social structure and personality. In this volume, he describes the origin, development, and testing of that relationship in two stable societies and two others undergoing change…an important methodological contribution.”
William Form, in Contemporary Sociology, Ohio State University


1. Social Structure and Personality under Conditions of Apparent Social Stability: The United States, Japan, and Poland

2. Doing Social Research under Conditions of Radical Social Change: The Biography of an Ongoing Research Project

3. Rationale and Research Design for the Comparative Study of Poland and Ukraine under Conditions of Radical Social Change

4. Class, Stratification, and Personality under Conditions of Radical Social Change: A Comparative Analysis of Poland and Ukraine

5. Extending the Analysis to the Nonemployed: Part 1. Complexity of Activities and Personality under Conditions of Radical Social Change

6. Extending the Analysis to the Nonemployed: Part 2. Structural Location and Personality during the Transformation of Poland and Ukraine

7. Social Structure and Personality during the Process of Radical Social Change: A Study of Ukraine in Transition

8. Reflections

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