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Abstract

The article distinguishes two models of human organization, the organic community and the atomistic society. It maintains that the organic paradigm stresses (a) the ideal unity of the whole; (b) organic or intrinsic relations; (c) living or dialectical processes; (d) the image of "members"; (e) the mutual interdependence of the members; (f) a role perspective; and (g) dynamic or natural functions. By contrast, the atomistic construction emphasizes (a) the value of individual freedom; (b) external connections; (c) mechanical or causal explanations; (d) the metaphor of "parts"; (e) the independence of the parts; (f) a rule orientation; and (g) a formalistic, legal, or artificial framework. The paper next contends that the sense of individual loneliness or alienation experienced is generally much greater in the atomistic society. And since both the American family and the society are, in the main, atomistically structured, it follows that loneliness is much more pronounced and prevalent in American society. The article concludes by offering some programmatic ideals and cures to reverse and mitigate the present tendency toward increasing loneliness.

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