David Landes, 27 October 1988
Michael Young is a rarity among sociologists: he has a feel for the people he writes about, and he writes well. When he takes us into a Merseyside factory and walks us around in the company of Joe Murgatroyd, works superintendant, we can hear the shoes clopping, the machines humming or missing, we can see the workers cocking an ear, and we can feel the anxiety of the foremen running to keep things in hand. Young’s prose is easy, colloquial, free of jargon, to the point where the reader is almost unaware of his blessed privilege until Young has occasion to cite one of his sociological colleagues: and then suddenly we pass from clear to the opaque. Society, he tells us, for example, does not pulse to just one beat after another, but to scores of different ones at once. And then, following immediately thereafter: ‘My view is similar to … that structure is “the mode in which the relation between moment and totality expresses itself in social reproduction.” Thank you very much.