The Unknown Citizen
by W. H. Auden
The Unknown Citizen Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink. (line 12-13)
Social Psychology is the study of group identities. A group of rioting fans at a football match would be a great subject for a Social Psychologist. According to these workers, the Unknown Citizen was a popular guy. Could he have become popular without having a unique identity?
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year; (lines 22-23)
Public Opinion researchers are people who take polls and surveys that turn people’s opinions into statistics. They are notoriously inaccurate and often silly. Like the Social Psychologists, they study group identity, not the individual. The Unknown Citizen has no stable opinions – he changes them depending on "the time of year."
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd.
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard. (lines 28-29)
The poem suggests the freedom and happiness are concerns of the individual, not the group. These two questions are more relevant to personal identity than any others. But the State has no concern for them.