academic article critique


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Article critique guidelines

An article critique or evaluation should include two main sections; a summary and an
evaluation. The evaluation section should be 2-3 pages (750-1000 words) long. Your critique
should be longer than your summary. You should evaluate all aspects of the research paper from
the importance of the problem investigated to the review of the literature, hypotheses, participants,
instruments, procedure and design, analysis and results and finally the conclusion section. Your task is to
comment on both strong and weak elements of the studies. Do not try to fish for imperfections in the
study. When you do find a weak element, make an informed comment with an appropriate
recommendation to follow.

Below are some questions that could help you structure your critique. You do not have to
address all questions. However, you should address highlighted questions. The questions listed
are there to help you learn what to look for in evaluating a research article. The format of your
paper should NOT be like a Q & A list. Instead, you should integrate your answers into an essay


I. Problem

1. Is there a statement of the problem?
2. Is background information on the problem presented?
3. Is the educational/psychological significance of the problem discussed?
4. Does the problem statement indicate the variables of interest and the specific relationship

between those variables which are investigated? When necessary, are variables directly or
operationally defined?

II. Review of Related Literature

1. Is the review comprehensive?
2. Are all cited references relevant to the problem under investigation?
3. Have the references been critically analyzed and the results of various studies

compared and contrasted, i.e., is the review more than a series of abstracts or

4. Does the review conclude with a brief summary of the literature and its implications
for the problem investigated?

5. Do the implications discussed form an empirical or theoretical rationale for the
hypotheses which follow?

III. Hypotheses

1. Are specific questions to be answered listed or specific hypotheses to be tested stated?
2. Does each hypothesis state an expected relationship or difference?
3. If necessary, are variables directly or operationally defined?
4. Is each hypothesis testable?


I. Participants

1. Are the size and major characteristics of the population studied described?
2. If a sample was selected, is the method of selecting the sample clearly described?
3. Is the method of sample selection described one that is likely to result in a representative,

unbiased sample?
4. Are the size and major characteristics of the sample described?
5. Does the sample size meet the suggested guideline for minimum sample size appropriate

for the method of research represented?

II. Instruments

1. Is the rationale given for the selection of the instruments (or measurements) used?
2. Is each instrument described in terms of purpose and content?
3. Are the instruments appropriate for measuring the intended variables?
4. Is evidence presented that indicates that each instrument is appropriate for the sample

under study?
5. Is instrument validity discussed and coefficients given if appropriate?
6. Is reliability discussed in terms of type and size of reliability coefficients?
7. If appropriate, are subtest reliabilities given?
8. If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are the procedures involved in

its development and validation described?
9. If an instrument was developed specifically for the study, are administration, scoring or

tabulating, and interpretation procedures fully described?

III. Design and Procedure

1. Is the design appropriate for answering the questions or testing the hypotheses of the

2. Are the procedures described in sufficient detail to permit them to be replicated by
another researcher?

3. If a pilot study was conducted, are its execution and results described as well as its
impact on the subsequent study?

4. Are the control procedures described?
5. Did the researcher discuss or account for any potentially confounding variables that he or

she was unable to control for?


1. Are appropriate descriptive or inferential statistics presented?
2. Was the probability level, , at which the results of the tests of significance were

evaluated, specified in advance of the data analyses?

3. If parametric tests were used, is there evidence that the researcher avoided violating the
required assumptions for parametric tests?

4. Are the tests of significance described appropriate, given the hypotheses and design of
the study?

5. Was every hypothesis tested?
6. Are the tests of significance interpreted using the appropriate degrees of freedom?
7. Are the results clearly presented?
8. Are the tables and figures (if any) well organized and easy to understand?
9. Are the data in each table and figure described in the text?

Discussion (Conclusions and Recommendation)

1. Is each result discussed in terms of the original hypothesis to which it relates?
2. Is each result discussed in terms of its agreement or disagreement with previous results

obtained by other researchers in other studies?
3. Are generalizations consistent with the results?
4. Are the possible effects of uncontrolled variables on the results discussed?
5. Are theoretical and practical implications of the findings discussed?
6. Are recommendations for future action made?
7. Are the suggestions for future action based on practical significance or on statistical

significance only, i.e., has the author avoided confusing practical and statistical

8. Are recommendations for future research made? Relationships of gender, family
responsibility and exible work hours
to organizational commitment and
job satisfaction


Department of Management, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124-9145, U.S.A.



Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, U.S.A.

Summary Psychological contract theory (Rousseau, 1995) suggests that women and those with
family responsibilities may negotiate new psychological contracts that include family-
responsive benets such as exible work hours. Relationships of gender, family
responsibility, and exible work hours to organizational commitment and job satis-
faction were examined among 160 matched male and female managers in a cross-
organizational study. Results revealed that women who perceived their organizations
oered exible work hours reported higher levels of organizational commitment and
job satisfaction than women who did not. Also, exible work hours were related to
higher organizational commitment and job satisfaction for those having family
responsibilities. Implications of these results for future research and organizational
policy are discussed. # 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997)
No. of Figures: 0 No. of Tables: 3 No. of References: 65


Organizational responses to workfamily conict is an increasing priority for management
(Ornstein and Isabella, 1993). In recent years, organizations have introduced a number of family-
responsive policies and benets, in large part, due to the increasing number of women in the
workplace (Milliken, Dutton and Beyer, 1991; Rousseau, 1995; Schwartz, 1989). Current data
indicate that 52 percent of women with children under age 6 work today as compared with
11 percent in 1960 (Lee, 1991). The increase in dual-career families has also given rise to more
favorable attitudes of men toward `family-friendly’ policies since both partners must now be

CCC 08943796/97/04037715$17.50 Received 13 June 1995
# 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Accepted 14 April 1996


Addressee for correspondence: Terri A. Scandura, Associate Professor, Department of Management, 414 Jenkins
Building, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124-9145, U.S.A., tel: (305) 284-5846 (oce), (305) 663-6547 (home
oce), e-mail: [emailprotected] (internet).

exible to meet child-care or dependent-elderly care demands (Lee, 1991). Scharlach and Boyd
(1989) reported a sizable percentage of workers were providing assistance to elderly family
members and that formal organizational supportive programs were considered extremely helpful
in managing caregiving and work responsibility conicts. Oering of such programs may aect
work attitudes of employees, including organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Such
policies may be related to employee loyalty to the organization because the organization is
perceived to be a `family friendly’ environment to work in.

Reasons cited by organization decision-makers for implementing exible work hours are to
improve motivation and morale and to enable employees to better balance work and family
(Kush and Stroh, 1994). Ultimately this exibility may relate to improved productivity as well.
Osterman (1995) found strong support for the link between the implementation of workfamily
policies and direct eorts on the part of employers to improve employee commitment.

Literature Review and Research Hypotheses

Flexible work hours as a family-responsive policy

Higgins, Duxbury and Irving (1992) found that conict between work and family roles diminish
employees’ perceptions of quality of work life and the quality of family life which, in turn, can
impact organizational outcomes such as productivity, absenteeism and turnover. They suggest
that organizations could possibly reduce workfamily conicts by oering alternative work
arrangements. This research indicated `that the structure of work has a strong inuence on
family life and suggests that there should be recognition on the part of employers that the family
consequences of work environment decisions are real and that they need to be considered’ (p. 71).

Organizational policy-makers are beginning to realize the eect of the changing demographics
of their workers and are responding with the implementation of family-oriented programs
(Galen, Palmer, Cuneo and Maremont, 1993). In a 1991 study of 188 of the largest companies in
30 industries, 100 percent of the companies reported that they oered maternity leave, 88 percent
oered part-time work, 77 percent oered exible work hours, and 48 percent of the companies
reported that they had a job-sharing program (Galinsky, Friedman and Hernandez, 1991). These
types of programs are designed to help employees manage their work and family responsibilities.
Research has shown family-responsive policies to be associated with the job-related attitudes and
personal well-being of employees (Greenberger, Goldberg, Hamill, O’Neil and Payne, 1989;
Solomon, 1994). One of these policies is exible work hours (abbreviated to FWH and sometimes
referred to as `ex-time’). Under exible work hour systems, employees may choose when they
come to work and when they leave, as long as they work during certain hours referred to as `core

Advantages and disadvantages of exible work hours have been discussed (Christensen and
Staines, 1990; Glueck, 1979; Golembiewski and Proehl, 1978; Kopelman, 1986; Kush and Stroh,
1994; Narayana and Nath, 1982; Pierce and Newstrom, 1983; Rainey and Wolf, 1982). Major
advantages claimed include lowered stress, increased job enrichment and autonomy, reduced
tardiness and absenteeism, and improved job satisfaction and productivity. Major disadvantages
identied include increased costs, problems with scheduling and work coordination, diculties
with supervising all employees on exible work hours, and changes in the organizational culture.
Golembiewski and Proehl’s (1978) review of the literature on exible work hours indicated that,
in sum, the positive benets of ex-time systems outweigh the costs and that the applications


# 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997)

generated few negative work behaviors. According to a 1993 survey of 80 top U.S. corporations
conducted by Work/Family Directions, exible work hours was the most frequently utilized
program (24 percent of employees used ex-time) over telecommuting, job sharing and part-time
schedule programs (Solomon, 1994).

Organizational commitment and job satisfaction

Organizational commitment and job satisfaction represent possible benets that may be associ-
ated with exible work hours. Organizational commitment represents an individual’s identi-
cation with the goals of the organization, how much the individual values membership in the
organization and the degree to which they intend to work to attain organizational goals
(Mowday, Steers and Porter, 1979). Job satisfaction is the overall summary evaluation a person
makes regarding his/her work environment (Weiss, Dawis, England and Lofquist, 1967). A broad
range of personal characteristics, job characteristics, groupleader relations, organizational
characteristics and role states have been examined in the literature as antecedents to organ-
izational commitment (cf. Mathieu and Zajac, 1990, for a meta-analysis of antecedents, corre-
lates and consequences of organizational commitment). Job satisfaction has been positively
correlated with organizational commitment (Mowday et al., 1979) and recent research has
indicated a causal relationship between these two constructs (Vandenberg and Lance, 1992). For
example, Williams and Hazer (1986) report that job satisfaction is an antecedent to organiza-
tional commitment in an investigation employing structural equation methodology.

With respect to individual and organizational outcomes, research has shown that organiza-
tional commitment is positively related to performance (Aranya, Kushnir and Valency, 1986)
and negatively related to turnover (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Porter, Steers and Mowday, 1974)
and turnover intentions (Williams and Hazer, 1986). In addition, organizational commitment
has been shown to be positively related to participation, power, teamwork and professionalism
(Welsch and LaVan, 1981).

Psychological Contracts

Flexible work hours as a part of the
psychological contract

Rousseau (1995) suggests that psychological contracts (both written and unwritten) are
pervasive in organizations. She denes a `psychological contract’ as a set of `. . . individual
beliefs, shaped by the organization, regarding terms of an exchange agreement between indivi-
duals and their organization’ (p. 9). Rousseau also notes that human resource (HR) practices,
such as recruitment, performance appraisal and compensation, play an important role in the
psychological contracting process between employees and employers. Although a number of
variables have been investigated as possible aspects of psychological contracts in organizations,
the relationship between exible work hours and employee responses (organizational commit-
ment and job satisfaction) has not been examined. Perceptions of exible work hours in the
workplace may increase employee loyalty and satisfaction due to positive feelings associated with
working for an organization that visibly cares about the well-being of its employees. Since
psychological contracts `. . . refer to beliefs that individuals hold regarding promises made,
accepted, and relied upon between themselves and another’ (Rousseau andWade-Benzoni, 1994)


# 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997)

(p. 466), it is the perception of whether the person has exible work hours that drives the
psychological contracting process.

Perceptions of exible work hours may result in increased attachment to the organization and
overall satisfaction for several reasons. First, the individual may perceive the organization’s
oering of exible work hours as representing the organization’s concern for work and family.
Employees may see this as an aspect of the psychological contract since their ability to balance
multiple responsibilities is congruent with individual values about work and family (i.e. `this
organization cares about people’). Second, exible work hours allows individuals to feel
increased control over their lives due to the opportunity to work during times more suited to
personal needs (e.g. child-care or elderly-care obligations) or personal biological clocks
(not everyone is most productive from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.). Third, having exible work hours
available improves employees’ perceptions about their employer and increases employees’
overall positive feeling toward the employer which impacts organizational commitment and job
satisfaction. Fourth employees often engage in social comparison processes (Adams, 1965) and
may compare their situation to peers in other jobs and/or organizations that do not oer exible
work programs. Such comparisons should increase the value of the employees’ psychological
contract with their organization. Crooker and Grover (1993) noted that providing family
benets to employees positively inuences their attachment to work through the symbolic action
of the employer providing policies that are responsive to employees’ needs. In response to the
oering of exible work hours, employees may reciprocate with greater loyalty to the employer
and better morale. Based upon the idea that exible work hours represent an aspect of the
contract between employees and employers and the previous literature, we expect the perception
of exible work hours to be related to organizational commitment (loyalty to the employer) and
job satisfaction (morale). Hence, the following hypothesis is proposed.

H1: Individuals that perceive exible work hours will report higher levels of (a) organ-
izational commitment and (b) job satisfaction than individuals who do not.

Gender and the psychological contract

There has been scant research on possible gender dierences in responses to psychological
contracts in organizations (Rousseau, 1995). An examination of research on gender dierences in
organizational commitment is not conclusive, however (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990). Some studies
report that women are more committed than men (Angle and Perry, 1981; Baugh, 1990; Gould,
1975; Grusky, 1966; Hrebiniak and Alutto, 1972) and others suggest that women are less
committed than men (Aranya et al., 1986; Chusmir, 1982; Euchs, 1971; Graddick and Farr,
1983). Still others report no gender dierences in organizational commitment (Fry and Grenfeld,
1980; Cromie, 1981; Stevens, Beyer and Trice, 1978; Bruning and Snyder, 1983). One of the
criticisms of research that has previously examined gender-related dierences in the study of
job attitudes has been the lack of control for the eects of demographic variables such as age and
level of education (Lefkowitz, 1994). In a study of a heterogeneous group of 832 men and
women, Lefkowitz (1994) found that many gender-related dierences in job reaction and
dispositional variables such as job satisfaction disappear when dierences in perceived job
characteristics, age, tenure, education, income, and occupational level were controlled. He con-
cludes that studies involving the examination of gender dierences should control statistically or
procedurally for the eects of demographic variables. We agree with this noted limitation of
research on gender-related dierences, and follow the suggestion of Sekaran (1990), that
matched samples are an eective research design for researching such dierences.


# 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997)

Mathieu and Zajac (1990) suggest that gender may impact employee’s perceptions of the
workplace and their attitudinal reactions to the organization. They also suggest that gender may
impact whether individuals become more committed to organizations that oer various kinds of
opportunities such as exible work hours. Family-oriented programs may be more salient to
women who must balance work and family demands and consequently, face more workfamily
conicts than men (Greenhaus, Parasuraman, Granrose, Rabinowitz and Beutell, 1989). Gender
theory suggests that most women are socialized to view their primary role as within the family
(Baugh, 1990). Also, women’s experiences in the workplace such as discrimination and sex-role
stereotyping may reinforce the relative importance of the family role over the work role (Kanter,
1977; Terborg, 1977). Thus, women are expected to have dierent responses to work than men in
terms of organizational commitment and job satisfaction when family-responsive policies are

Women may develop dierent psychological contracts with organizations than men. They
may be more committed and satised with work when they perceive that their organization oers
policies that are consonant with the family role, in comparison to men. Flexible work hours may
enable women to better balance the conicting demands between work and family roles (Frone,
Russell and Cooper, 1992). Research has indicated that women have retained primary respons-
ibility for home and family duties, in addition to being employed full-time (Hoschild, 1989;
Bielby and Bielby, 1988). Hence, the perception that the organization supports them in their need
to manage both their career and their family may increase their feelings of organizational
commitment and morale (Rousseau, 1995). As more women have entered the workforce, the
nature of benets oered to employees have changed. Today, on-site day-care centers, parental
leave and exible work hours are often part of the psychological contracts oered to employees.
In response to such contract `packages’ (Rousseau, 1995), employees may be more satised and
connected to the organization. Flexible work hour benets may be an important element in an
individual’s decision to work for a particular organization. Sims (1994) notes that human
resource personnel will have to oer innovative employment options to attract and retain
younger employees. Maximizing employees’ sense of control over their lives and their changing
needs is a goal addressed by exible work hour systems.

Therefore, we expect interaction eects for gender and exible work hour policies with respect
to organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Women should be more likely to report
higher levels of organizational commitment and job satisfaction than men when they perceive
that a family-responsive policy is present in their organization than when it is not. We hope to ll
a gap in the current research on women in management by examining the dierential eects of a
family-responsive policy (i.e. exible work hours) on the organizational commitment and job
satisfaction of females and males using a matched sample design (Sekaran, 1990). Hence, the
following hypothesis is proposed.

H2: The relationship between the perception of exible work hours and (a) organizational
commitment and (b) job satisfaction will be stronger for women than for men.

Family responsibility and the psychological contract

Attitudes have changed regarding employees’ willingness to sacrice family for work (Rodgers,
1992). Today’s employees often look for signals that the organization provides for balance
between work and family (Osterman, 1995). Guzzo and Noonan (1994) suggest that human
resource practices, such as exible work hours communicate that the organization is concerned
about employee well-being. Such practices have been considered part of the psychological


# 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997)

contract oered to employees. Flexible work hours may be oered as part of the human resource
benet `package’ oered to employees or negotiated one-on-one with one’s supervisor. In either
event, the employee may reciprocate with increased loyalty and work performance. Also, the
perception of having exible work hours may enhance the employeremployee `bond’ and
increase job satisfaction. Rousseau (1995) suggests that a recent trend in psychological con-
tracting is increased negotiation regarding work and family issues for both women and men. As
more women have entered the U.S. workforce creating an increase in dual-career families, the
expectations that employers will assist or be exible regarding workfamily conicts has also
increased. Thus, exible work hours may be viewed as part of the psychological contract for
employees that have family responsibilities.

Employees who stand to benet from family responsive programs may hold more positive
attitudes toward the organization (Crooker and Grover, 1993). Therefore, employees who have
children and are confronted with work and family demands may prefer having a choice of
work hours associated with exible work hour programs and may feel more attached to the
organization for oering these policies. This attachment should be reected in feelings of
organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Beauvais and Kowalski (1993) found that
`. . . the more salient one’s family role, the more likely one would engage in family-supportive
behaviors’ (p. 10). Thus, having children at home represents a level of family responsibility and
the following hypothesis is proposed.

H3: The relationship between perceptions of exible work hours and (a) organizational
commitment and (b) job satisfaction will be stronger for individuals with family respons-
ibilities than those without.


Sample and procedure

Despite investigations of antecedents of organizational commitment using a variety of eld
samples (Hrebiniak, 1974; Lee, 1971; Steers, 1977; Koch and Steers, 1976; Porter et al., 1974;
Mowday et al., 1979; Graddick and Farr, 1983; Welsch and LaVan, 1981), research has yet to
examine organizational commitment using matched samples of male and female managers. Yet,
the development of psychological contracts of managers is important because of their ability to
inuence key decisions in the overall human resource strategy of the organization and processes
of recruitment, hiring and promotions (Rousseau and Wade-Benzoni, 1994). In addition,
Milliken et al. (1991) note that the attitudes of the `top management team’ (p. 101) regarding
workfamily issues could be crucial in determining implementation of family-responsive

To obtain a sample of women in management positions, potential participants were obtained
from mailing lists, provided by the American List Council, of women with job titles of general
manager, vice president or president/CEO. A random sample of 1200 potential participants were
screened for their willingness to take part in the survey and ability to identify a male peer at their
level. Four hundred and forty-three women indicated their willingness to participate in the study
and were mailed two copies of the survey and postage-paid return envelopes. A total of 275
(176 from women and 99 from men) usable surveys were returned for a response rate of
39.7 percent for the women, and the matching strategy resulted in a nal sample of N 160,


# 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997)

constituted by N 80 matched pairs1. Ninety-three dierent organizations were represented in
the sample (67 women identied peers in the same organization and 13 identied peers in
dierent organizations).

While the initial female executive sample was randomly drawn, it is still possible that some
dierences existed between respondents and non-respondents. To address the issue of possible
non-response bias, a preliminary step in the data collection process included a postage-paid
business reply postcard which asked the female respondents to designate whether or not they
wanted to participate in the study. Information regarding the number of levels between the female
respondent’s job and the top level of the organization, the number of persons they supervise, and
the type of organization (government, service, manufacturing, small business or other) was
collected via the postcard. Non-response bias was evaluated by comparing the postcard responses
of those who completed the survey (N 176) with those who indicated they did not wish to
participate (N 534). No statistically signicant dierences were found between these two
groups for the number of levels between their position and the top level in the organization
(t value 1:64; p 0:102), the number of persons they supervised (t value 1:12; p 0:228), or
type of organization (2 7:17; p 0:127). In addition, the geographic location of the employing
organization (South, Northeast, Midwest and West) was examined for respondents and non-
respondents and no signicant dierences were found (2 3:15; p 0:370).

A demographic prole of respondents is shown in Table 1. The majority of respondents were
married, employed full time, and Caucasian; approximately 74 percent of the women and
87 percent of the men had at least a bachelor’s degree; and 80.7 percent of the women and
87.5 percent of the men were employed by small- or medium-sized organizations (500 employees
or less). Since the literature has demonstrated various personal characteristics to be related to
organizational commitment and dierences between males and females to confound studies of
gender dierences in reactions to work (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990; Lefkowitz, 1994), analyses
were conducted on all demographic variables to determine whether the matched sample
procedure was eective in procedurally controlling for dierences in the personal characteristics
of respondents. t-tests, chi-square tests, and Del tests (Drazin and Kazanjian, 1993) indicated no
signicant gender dierences for age, ethnicity, education, years of experience, salary, size of
budget, number of persons supervised, weekly hours of work, size of employer or type of
industry, supporting the eectiveness of the matching strategy. The only dierences in the sample
were that women were more likely to be single than men (Del 0:16; p < 0:05) and more males reported having children under 18 living at home than women (Del 0:2; p < 0:05). For this analysis, the Del technique was used in conjunction with the chi-square test (cf. Drazin and Kazanjian, 1993), because we hypothesized that men would be more likely to have children than women, given results of previous research utilizing dependent children as a variable in the examination of careers of men and women (Lobel and St. Clair, 1992). Measures2 Organizational commitment Mowday et al.'s (1979) 15-item Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ) was used and respondents indicated their level of agreement with these items using a 5-point scale ranging from FLEXIBLE WORK HOURS 383 1 Response rates among executives typically are under 25 percent (cf. Hall, 1992; Powell, 1992). 2 Data on exible work hours and organizational commitment were collected as part of a larger survey on careers of women in management. # 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. J. Organiz. Behav. 18: 377391 (1997) 1 strongly disagree to 5 strongly agree. Representative items in this measure included `For me, this is the best of all possible organizations for which to work' and `I nd that my values and the organization's values are very similar'. The coecient alpha reliability computed for the OCQ in this sample was 0.90. Job satisfaction Overall Job Satisfaction was measured using the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) (Weiss et al., 1967). Respondents indicated their satisfaction with 20 aspects of their jobs using a 5-point scale ranging from 1 very dissatised to 5 very satised. Representative items in this measure included `Being able to keep busy at all times' and `My pay and the amount of work I do'. The coecient alpha reliability computed for the MSQ in this sample was 0.90. 384 T. A. SCANDURA AND M. J. LANKAU Table 1. Demographic characteristics: female and male managers Characteristic Female Male Characteristic Female Male (N 80) (N 80) (N 80) (N 80) Age (years) Mean 44.2 42.5 Standard deviation 10.3 10.3 Ethnicity (%) White 95.0 97.5 Afro-American 0.6 1.2 Hispanic 1.7 0.0 All other 2.7 1.2 Education (%) Bachelor 43.2 55.0 Post-Bachelor 16.9 15.0 Masters 12.5 15.0 Doctorate 1.7 2.5 Marital status (%)* Single 9.7 6.3 Married 77.2 85.0 Divorced 7.4 8.7 Widowed 3.2 0.0 Children under 18 (%){ 43.8 63.8 Employment status (%) Full time 95.5 96.2 Part time 4.0 2.5 Years of respondent experience in current t SHOW MORE... Educational brief Topic: Black Nationalism: Double Consciousness 1. Describe your topic selection through a brief abstract of the issue, including an important person, law, event, organization, or social movement related to the concerns of Black Nationalism. (Focus on Du Bois and Double consciousness.) (200-300 words) 2. A significance statement on why this topic is important to address. (200-300 words) The files listed below and some external resources can be used as references. YEARS PROJECT M :USE 11 The Souls of Black Folk W.E.B. Du Bois, Shawn Leigh Alexander Published by University of Massachusetts Press Bois, W.E.B. Du and Shawn Leigh Alexander. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. University of Massachusetts Press, 2018. Project MUSE. For additional information about this book [ Access provided at 17 Aug 2020 23:33 GMT from University of California, Berkeley ] I OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand, All night long crying with a mournful cry, As I lie and listen, and cannot understand The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea, O water, crying for rest, is it I, is it I? All night long the water is crying to me. Unresting water, there shall never be rest Till the last moon droop and the last tide fail, And the fre of the end begin to burn in the west; And the heart shall be weary and wonder and cry like the sea, All life long crying without avail, As the water all night long is crying to me. ARTHUR SYMONS. BETWEEN me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the dif- fculty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, futter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they 2 THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern out- rages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am inter- ested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word. And yet, being a problem is a strange experience, peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation frst bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housa- tonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys and girls heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards ten cents a package and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common con- tempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination-time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fne contempt began to fade; for the worlds I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine. But they should not keep these 3 OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS prizes, I said; some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never decide: by reading law, by healing the sick, by telling the wonderful tales that swam in my head, some way. With other black boys the strife was not so fercely sunny: their youth shrunk into tasteless sycophancy, or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of every- thing white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry, Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The shades of the prison-house closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above. After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, a world which yields him no true self- consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at ones self through the eyes of others, of measuring ones soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused con- tempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, an Ameri- can, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, this longing to attain self-conscious man- hood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. 4 THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a food of white American- ism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face. This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use his best powers and his latent genius. These powers of body and mind have in the past been strangely wasted, dispersed, or forgotten. The shadow of a mighty Negro past fits through the tale of Ethiopia the Shadowy and of Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single black men fash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. Here in America, in the few days since Emancipation, the black mans turning hither and thither in hesitant and doubtful striving has often made his very strength to lose effectiveness, to seem like absence of power, like weakness. And yet it is not weakness, it is the contra- diction of double aims. The double-aimed struggle of the black artisan on the one hand to escape white con- tempt for a nation of mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, and on the other hand to plough and nail and dig for a poverty-stricken horde could only result in mak- ing him a poor craftsman, for he had but half a heart in either cause. By the poverty and ignorance of his people, 5 OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS the Negro minister or doctor was tempted toward quack- ery and demagogy; and by the criticism of the other world, toward ideals that made him ashamed of his lowly tasks. The would-be black savant was confronted by the para- dox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own fesh and blood. The innate love of harmony and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a-dancing and a-singing raised but confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people. This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideals, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thousand thousand people, has sent them often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves. Away back in the days of bondage they thought to see in one divine event the end of all doubt and disappoint- ment; few men ever worshipped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two centuries. To him, so far as he thought and dreamed, slavery was indeed the sum of all villainies, the cause of all sorrow, the root of all prejudice; Emancipation was the key to a promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the eyes of wearied Israelites. In song and exhortation swelled one refrain Liberty; in his tears and curses the God he implored had Freedom in his right hand. At last it came, suddenly, fearfully, 6 THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK like a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in his own plaintive cadences: Shout, O children! Shout, youre free! For God has bought your liberty! Years have passed away since then, ten, twenty, forty; forty years of national life, forty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nations feast. In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem: Take any shape but that, and my frm nerves Shall never tremble! The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people, a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people. The frst decade was merely a prolongation of the vain search for freedom, the boon that seemed ever barely to elude their grasp, like a tantalizing will-o-the-wisp, maddening and misleading the headless host. The holo- caust of war, the terrors of the Ku-Klux Klan, the lies of carpet-baggers, the disorganization of industry, and the contradictory advice of friends and foes, left the bewildered serf with no new watchword beyond the old 7 OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS cry for freedom. As the time few, however, he began to grasp a new idea. The ideal of liberty demanded for its attainment powerful means, and these the Fifteenth Amendment gave him. The ballot, which before he had looked upon as a visible sign of freedom, he now regarded as the chief means of gaining and perfecting the liberty with which war had partially endowed him. And why not? Had not votes made war and emancipated millions? Had not votes enfranchised the freedmen? Was anything impossible to a power that had done all this? A million black men started with renewed zeal to vote themselves into the kingdom. So the decade few away, the revolution of 1876 came, and left the half-free serf weary, wonder- ing, but still inspired. Slowly but steadily, in the following years, a new vision began gradually to replace the dream of political power, a powerful movement, the rise of another ideal to guide the unguided, another pillar of fre by night after a clouded day. It was the ideal of book- learning; the curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know. Here at last seemed to have been discovered the mountain path to Canaan; lon- ger than the highway of Emancipation and law, steep and rugged, but straight, leading to heights high enough to overlook life. Up the new path the advance guard toiled, slowly, heavily, doggedly; only those who have watched and guided the faltering feet, the misty minds, the dull understandings, of the dark pupils of these schools know how faithfully, how piteously, this people strove to learn. It was weary work. The cold statistician wrote down the 8 THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK inches of progress here and there, noted also where here and there a foot had slipped or some one had fallen. To the tired climbers, the horizon was ever dark, the mists were often cold, the Canaan was always dim and far away. If, however, the vistas disclosed as yet no goal, no resting-place, little but fattery and criticism, the journey at least gave leisure for refection and self-examination; it changed the child of Emancipation to the youth with dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect. In those sombre forests of his striving his own soul rose before him, and he saw himself, darkly as through a veil; and yet he saw in himself some faint revelation of his power, of his mission. He began to have a dim feel- ing that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself, and not another. For the frst time he sought to analyze the burden he bore upon his back, that dead- weight of social degradation partially masked behind a half-named Negro problem. He felt his poverty; with- out a cent, without a home, without land, tools, or sav- ings, he had entered into competition with rich, landed, skilled neighbors. To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hard- ships. He felt the weight of his ignorance, not sim- ply of letters, but of life, of business, of the humanities; the accumulated sloth and shirking and awkwardness of decades and centuries shackled his hands and feet. Nor was his burden all poverty and ignorance. The red stain of bastardy, which two centuries of systematic legal deflement of Negro women had stamped upon his race, meant not only the loss of ancient African chastity, but also the hereditary weight of a mass of corruption from 9 OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS white adulterers, threatening almost the obliteration of the Negro home. A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems. But alas! while sociologists gleefully count his bastards and his prostitutes, the very soul of the toiling, sweating black man is darkened by the shadow of a vast despair. Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as the natural defence of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the higher against the lower races. To which the Negro cries Amen! and swears that to so much of this strange prejudice as is founded on just homage to civilization, culture, righteousness, and progress, he humbly bows and meekly does obeisance. But before that nameless prejudice that leaps beyond all this he stands helpless, dismayed, and well-nigh speechless; before that personal disrespect and mockery, the ridicule and systematic humiliation, the distortion of fact and wanton license of fancy, the cynical ignoring of the better and the boister- ous welcoming of the worse, the all-pervading desire to inculcate disdain for everything black, from Toussaint to the devil, before this there rises a sickening despair that would disarm and discourage any nation save that black host to whom discouragement is an unwritten word. But the facing of so vast a prejudice could not but bring the inevitable self-questioning, self-disparagement, and lowering of ideals which ever accompany repres- sion and breed in an atmosphere of contempt and hate. 10 THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK Whisperings and portents came borne upon the four winds: Lo! we are diseased and dying, cried the dark hosts; we cannot write, our voting is vain; what need of education, since we must always cook and serve? And the Nation echoed and enforced this self-criticism, say- ing: Be content to be servants, and nothing more; what need of higher culture for half-men? Away with the black mans ballot, by force or fraud, and behold the suicide of a race! Nevertheless, out of the evil came something of good, the more careful adjustment of education to real life, the clearer perception of the Negroes social respon- sibilities, and the sobering realization of the meaning of progress. So dawned the time of Sturm und Drang: storm and stress to-day rocks our little boat on the mad waters of the world-sea; there is within and without the sound of con- fict, the burning of body and rending of soul; inspiration strives with doubt, and faith with vain questionings. The bright ideals of the past, physical freedom, political power, the training of brains and the training of hands, all these in turn have waxed and waned, until even the last grows dim and overcast. Are they all wrong, all false? No, not that, but each alone was over-simple and incomplete, the dreams of a credulous race-childhood, or the fond imaginings of the other world which does not know and does not want to know our power. To be really true, all these ideals must be melted and welded into one. The training of the schools we need to-day more than ever, the training of deft hands, quick eyes and ears, and above all the broader, deeper, higher culture of gifted minds and pure hearts. The power of the ballot 11 OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS we need in sheer self-defence, else what shall save us from a second slavery? Freedom, too, the long-sought, we still seek, the freedom of life and limb, the free- dom to work and think, the freedom to love and aspire. Work, culture, liberty, all these we need, not singly but together, not successively but together, each growing and aiding each, and all striving toward that vaster ideal that swims before the Negro people, the ideal of human brotherhood, gained through the unifying ideal of Race; the ideal of fostering and developing the traits and tal- ents of the Negro, not in opposition to or contempt for other races, but rather in large conformity to the greater ideals of the American Republic, in order that some day on American soil two world-races may give each to each those characteristics both so sadly lack. We the darker ones come even now not altogether empty-handed: there are to-day no truer exponents of the pure human spirit of the Declaration of Independence than the American Negroes; there is no true American music but the wild sweet melodies of the Negro slave; the American fairy tales and folk-lore are Indian and African; and, all in all, we black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars and smartness. Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal dyspep- tic blundering with lighthearted but determined Negro humility? or her coarse and cruel wit with loving jovial good humor? or her vulgar music with the soul of the Sorrow Songs? Merely a concrete test of the underlying principles of the great republic is the Negro Problem, and the spiri- tual striving of the freedmens sons is the travail of souls 12 THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK whose burden is almost beyond the measure of their strength, but who bear it in the name of an historic race, in the name of this the land of their fathers fathers, and in the name of human opportunity. And now what I have briefy sketched in large outline let me on coming pages tell again in many ways, with loving emphasis and deeper detail, that men may listen to the striving in the souls of black folk.


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