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An introduction to the two socities in the us

Received 2014 Oct 15; Accepted 2015 Apr 13. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

  • This is our basic conclusion;
  • Note that differing degrees of freedom across different analyses reflect the fact that some countries lacked data for some analyses;
  • Should they emphasize individual freedom and autonomy or security and constraint?

Abstract Throughout history and within numerous disciplines, there exists a perennial debate about how societies should best be organized. Should they emphasize individual freedom and autonomy or security and constraint? Contrary to proponents who tout the benefits of one over the other, we demonstrate across 32 nations that both freedom and constraint exhibit a curvilinear relationship with many indicators of societal well-being.

Relative to moderate nations, very permissive and very constrained nations exhibit worse psychosocial outcomes lower happiness, greater dysthymia, higher suicide ratesworse health outcomes lower life expectancy, greater mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and diabetes and poorer economic and political outcomes lower gross domestic product per capita, greater risk for political instability. This supports the notion that a balance between freedom and constraint results in the best national outcomes.

Accordingly, it is time to shift the debate away from either constraint or freedom and focus on both in moderation. Introduction In fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, and political and economic philosophy, there is a long-standing debate concerning the best way to organize societies. Advocates of the importance of freedom claim that autonomy allows individuals to self-actualize and maximizes societal happiness and economic progress.

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Proponents of constraint insist that rules and regulations are critical for creating a secure and stable society that enables happiness and progress. Such debates are ancient in origin. However, despite much philosophizing, there has been surprisingly little empirical data brought to bear on this question.

The age-old question an introduction to the two socities in the us Does evidence favor freedom over constraint for societal well-being, or vice versa? We argue that neither position is correct.

Rather, both excessive freedom and excessive constraint are costly to societal well-being. In particular, overly constraining environments provide severe limitations for individual choice and necessitate constant behavioral self-monitoring, while overly permissive environments may promote lawlessness and normlessness anomiea lack of social predictability, and little to no rules that regulate extreme behavior and coordinate social action.

This hypothesis, though untested, echoes theory in various disciplines, including political and economic philosophy [ 23 ], sociology [ 14 ], and psychology [ 5 ]. Durkheim [ 4 ], for instance, long theorized that high suicide rates would be produced in both very constraining and excessively individualistic and disorganized societies, though likely through different mechanisms; egoistic suicide results from perceptions of meaninglessness and a total lack of social integration produced by excessive individuality and a lack of purpose, while fatalistic suicide stems from a desire to die rather than live under constant state of oppressive control.

Likewise, in psychology, Erich Fromm [ 5 ] made the claim that excessive freedom and the loosening of societal constraints leaves individuals without a sense order, producing high levels of anxiety and resulting in a pendulum shift to authoritarianism and conformity.

More recently, Amitai Etzioni [ 1 ] theorized that society is enriched when both autonomy and order are blended together and that an emphasis on either alone is problematic for societal functioning. Despite the notion that a balance of permissiveness and constraint may produce optimal societal outcomes, there has been no empirical test of this proposition to date.

Materials and Methods Societal permissiveness versus constraint was indexed through well-validated indices of cultural looseness versus tightness [ 11 ]. Loose societies have weak social norms, are permissive, and have a high tolerance for deviant behavior.

Introduction

Tight societies have strong social norms, are restrictive, and have a low tolerance for deviance. In all, tight societies limit freedom and engender constraint while loose societies afford greater permissiveness. Nations vary on this dimension across a continuum from very loose to very tight. Previous research by Gelfand and colleagues [ 11 ] provided the tightness-looseness scores used in the present research.

Individuals in all nations were asked to report their agreement or disagreement to questions such as whether there are many social norms that people are supposed to abide by in their country, whether there are clear expectations for how people should act in most situations, whether people have a great deal of freedom in deciding how they can act reverse scoredwhether one will be disapproved of if one acts in an inappropriate way, and whether people almost always comply with social norms.

There were high levels of inter-rater agreements in all countries and the scale has convergent and divergent validity see [ 11 ]. Psychosocial outcomes are associated with issues of psychological and social health and well-being. Theoretically, if very permissive societies and very restrictive societies produce a high degree of stressors—as theorized by Durkheim, Fromm, and Etzioni—they should produce lower happiness, greater dysthymia, and a higher suicide rate.

"Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies..."

In contrast, those societies that are more moderate on constraint-permissiveness should exhibit greater happiness, less dysthymia, and lower suicide. Finally, suicide rate was assessed with data taken from a World Health Organization report [ 14 ].

The higher degree of stressors theorized to be present in very permissive and very restrictive societies should produce poorer health outcomes, including a greater mortality rate associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes and lower life expectancy. Notably, research has shown that environmental stressors induce more severe outcomes and symptoms in diabetics an introduction to the two socities in the us 15 ].

Mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes was assessed with data from the World Health Organization [ 16 ]. Economic outcomes refer to the degree of material and monetary wealth of a nation. Theoretically, very loose societies lack the ability to coordinate social action whereas very tight societies have high repression, both of which should negatively relate to efficiency and production. Consequently, we suspect that GDP per capita will be lower in both very constrained and very permissive nations.

We also anticipated that very tight and very loose nations would have a higher risk for political instability, or episodes involving disruption of normal public and private life that are commonly accompanied by some degree of violence. Nations that are highly suppressed or, in contrast, highly disorganized should result in greater social stresses, as well as lower life satisfaction and quality of life.

  • From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will;
  • We also anticipated that very tight and very loose nations would have a higher risk for political instability, or episodes involving disruption of normal public and private life that are commonly accompanied by some degree of violence;
  • Our recommendations embrace three basic principles:

This may result in a higher degree of political action and, consequently, risk for greater political instability and social unrest.

We anticipated that the relationship between permissiveness looseness and constraint tightness and the above outcomes would exhibit a curvilinear relationship, such that very tight and very loose nations have worse outcomes relative to nations intermediate on tightness-looseness.

We used stepwise multiple regression to evaluate these hypotheses.

  1. Advocates of the importance of freedom claim that autonomy allows individuals to self-actualize and maximizes societal happiness and economic progress. As the riot alternatively waxed and waned, one area of the ghetto remained insulated.
  2. This supports the notion that a balance between freedom and constraint results in the best national outcomes. Only three of the 20 cities studied had more than one Negro legislator; none had ever had a Negro mayor or city manager.
  3. Numerous persons, the majority of them Negroes, were being injured by gunshots of undetermined origin.
  4. Why did it happen?

Step 1 examined the linear effect of tightness-looseness on the outcome variable in question. Step 2 introduced a quadratic term to account for the hypothesized curvilinear effect. Below we report linear and curvilinear effects for each of the psychosocial, health, economic, and political outcomes.

We also report the results of an analysis using a generalized index of these outcomes that was derived from factor analysis. As wealth disparity and other prominent cultural dimensions may also influence these variables, we also control for GINI [ 20 ] and individualism [ 21 ] in secondary analyses. Note that differing degrees of freedom across different analyses reflect the fact that some countries lacked data for some analyses.