Response for The Averaged American

Igo’s thesis is that modern surveying methods have caused an American society to create such ideas as “mainstream culture,” “public opinion,” and “normal sexuality.” She followed her thesis by examining three important surveys of the 20th century: Lynd’s study of Muncie, which meant to represent “typical” American; George Gallup and Elmo Roper’s public opinion polls, which were understood to represent the thoughts of an “average” American, and Alfred Kinsey, whose surveys purposed to uncover “normal” sexuality.

In the Lynd’s example, Igo shows us factors, no matter they are intentional or unconscious, can led to the simplification of a messy reality. The influence of the new social scientific studies, Igo suggests, became manifest when they sought to represent the abstract notion of “the American people” in their samples. The authors of these studies envisioned an America that was—like themselves—white, Anglo Saxon, and Protestant. They drew up their samples accordingly. In my opinion, Middletown was rather a community they (the surveyors) wished for than real. Muncie had an appreciable African-American community, but this society was not included in the analysis. Lynd’s excluded African Americans and immigrants in his survey, so his “typical American community” in fact represented only a white, native-born community.

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