The Organization Man

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The Organization Man

The Organization Man, the 1956 best-selling book from William H. Whyte (1917–1999), described the psychological and social costs of a major trend in American life during the 1950s. The trend was the movement of more people away from blue-collar jobs and toward white-collar office jobs in large corporations. The trend, Whyte argued, came with a price. Succeeding in the corporate world required people to suppress individual thought and initiative and to replace it with an attitude of conformity (acting in agreement with established social views) that sought only to please the boss. To Whyte, this seemed a major shift in the American character. Americans were forsaking the competitive individualism that had propelled the United States forward, a trend that Whyte argued would not lead to great things.

The Organization Man was a very influential commentary on the problems of conformity that plagued the United States in the 1950s and beyond, one that also found expression in Hollywood (see entry under 1930s—Film and Theater in volume 2) films such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956).

—Timothy Berg

For More Information

Glazer, Nathan. "The Man Who Loved Cities." Wilson Quarterly (Spring 1999): pp. 27–33.

Whyte, William H. The Organization Man. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1956.

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The Organization Man

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