The Partial Restoration of Traditional Society

The Public Interest, Fall 1995.


DURING work on The Bell Curve, Richard Herrnstein and I were struck by the way in which the 1950s saw portentous developments that no one noticed at the time. We were focusing especially on the transformation in the top universities, which converted in a few years from institutions for a socioeconomic elite to ones for a cognitive elite. But the observation could be applied broadly.  Many of the intellectual and social trends that transformed society in the 1960s were coalescing in the 1950s. Yet a social scientist of the 1950s would have been hard put to predict the magnitude or velocity of the changes that were about to occur by looking at the standard quantitative indicators.

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