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Typologies

Typologies

Formal and methodological aspects

The tradition and its sources

Some modern contributions

The future of typological research

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Taxonomy occupies a vital place in the corpus of any empirical science. Since science is grounded on the assumptions of the orderliness of natural phenomena and the rational apprehension of this order by man, the systematic classificatory grouping of phenomena and the explication of the rationale for the classification are indeed tantamount to the codification of the existing state of knowledge in a discipline. Typological classification, as a subdivision of taxonomy, has characterized a considerable part of the culture of the social sciences; paradoxically, the notion of types and this method of classification have also been the object of severe methodological and ideological opposition. ’Few subjects in taxonomy are understood in more different ways or are more misunderstood than the nature and use of types …” (Simpson 1945, p. 28).

Formal and methodological aspects

A type, as its etymology suggests (from the Greek typos, an impression, a cast, a model) has recurrent, general, distinctive features which are not properties of the individual as such. Those essential features which stamp an aggregate with a certain cachet or physiognomy constitute a type. Since various arrangements of forms may be discerned in any given population, there are no inherent limitations to the number of types which may be used to describe or characterize it.

As a formalization of the study of types, typology is thus closely related to morphology, the study of forms. However, the concept of type is more indefinite in some ways. It connotes something broader than the idea of a mold or abstract category which underlies the notion of “form.” The notion of type also suggests an entity as a visible manifestation, an external appearance or embodiment which points to an inner or latent state of being; a type has frequently been treated as a symbol whose referent forms part of a more complex, covert reality. A type is analogous to a photographic negative, from which a great number of identical positives can be developed.

A typological classification is one in which the fundamental categories of ordering, the types, are inductively arrived at rather than formally deduced a priori; they are taken as “natural” groupings, finite and discrete. The type is the categorical unit which is the focal point of the classification, though considerable attention may be given to categories within the type, which are called subtypes. This implies that in such a classificatory system, more concern will be given to differences between units on the same plane than to similarities found across levels (e.g., there will be greater attention to describing differences between types A, B, and C than to the common denominators they possess which permit them to be subsumed under family 1). These aspects of typologies notwith standing, typological classifications may be viewed methodologically as any classificatory system used in qualitative analysis.

As a specific instance of the general logic of classification, the typological procedure requires that (a) each and every member of the population studied may be classified in one and only one of the major types delineated, which is equivalent to requiring that the typological classification must be comprehensive and its terms mutually exclusive; (b) the dimension(s) which is (are) differentiated into types must be explicitly stated; (c) this dimension must be of central importance for the purpose of the research. Additional methodological criteria for a “good” typological classification would include the criterion of fruitfulness (the typology may have heuristic significance in facilitating the discovery of new empirical entities) and the criterion of parsimony (the fewest meaningful or significant major types possible to cover the largest number of observations). However, categorizing a given population into a few types or subtypes may reduce validity if the variance within single categories or types is thereby unduly increased. Parsimony, therefore, is not always a virtue.

The methodological functions and significance of typological classification are basically twofold: codification and prediction. A typology goes beyond sheer description by simplifying the ordering of the elements of a population, and the known relevant traits of that population, into distinct groupings; in this capacity a typological classification creates order out of the potential chaos of discrete, discontinuous, or heterogeneous observations. But in so codifying phenomena, it also permits the observer to seek and predict relationships between phenomena that do not seem to be connected in any obvious way. This is because a good typology is not a collection of undifferentiated entities but is composed of a cluster of traits which do in reality “hang together.” Thus there is much affinity between the notion of “type” and the psychological notion of “gestalt,” since both derive from a study of apparently natural “wholes” as primary units of observation.

Let us assume, therefore, that we have a typological classification of a given population (e.g., chemical elements, plants, political parties) such that three main types—A, B, and C—have been isolated. We have found that with A are associated traits a1, a, a1, a2, a3, an, that with B are associated traits b1, b2, b3,...bn, and correspondingly with C. Now suppose we come across an element of the population, X, and recognize X to be a representative of type A. We would then be able to predict with some degree of confidence that we would find in X a significantly higher incidence of traits, a1, a2, a3, an, than of either of the other two sets. Of course, it would be most gratifying if a concrete X manifested all the traits associated with A; in that case X would be a “pure” specimen and would coincide with the type. Such pure types can only be exceedingly infrequent in a population; indeed, much of the methodological usefulness of typologies lies in their being synthetic constructions from the data so that no specific actual instance or element would be taken for the type itself.

It might be further suggested that the more explicitly stated the typology, including the relationships between types, the more the typology functions as a theoretical model. A theoretical model, of which Weber’s notion of the “ideal type” is a special case, is useful in its explanation of the virtual tendencies of a system, in light of which actual discrepancies may be investigated. Of course, the construction of a typology (as that of any other theoretical model), including its dimensions, is not dictated by logical considerations but entails, to an important extent, an initial creative act on the part of the researcher. It should be kept firmly in mind that, from a strict scientific point of view, there is no classification of entities by types which is more or less “natural” than any other; nevertheless, the reification of typologies (the feeling that types are not arbitrary but are actually to be found “there") is a frequent temptation and pitfall in the use of such classifications. A set of categories that is, from a scientific viewpoint, essentially arbitrary, may thus come to be confused with something intrinsically real.

Once the typology is constructed, more formal rules of procedure are warranted. Thus, each type should be related logically and meaningfully to every other type of the same dimension in the classification. To take a negative example, a typology of men’s attitudes toward women which has as female types (1) blonde, (2) faithful, (3) intellectual, (4) plump, has no methodological merit, because the types are not mutually exclusive. Also, the traits associated with each type should have a logical and meaningful coherence with each other.

Following these and other rules of procedure of this sort, it is rather easy to construct a typological classification for any order of phenomena—as may be attested by the plethora of ad hoc typologies to be found in the research literature. Yet this very ease of construction may also lead to one of the major shortcomings of typological classification. Classification in general, by structuring the manifold dimensions of concrete experience, also distorts it, i.e., it emphasizes discontinuities where subjective experience finds process and continuities. In fact, there are a number of ways in which typological classification may lead to a certain sterility in dealing with concrete phenomena. First, a given member of a population may manifest traits belonging to different sets, so that classifying this member as an instance of only one type (and therefore as being identical to all other such instances) takes on an arbitrary aspect. Ironically, this goes counter to the very spirit of typologizing, which aims at the setting up of “natural” and readily identifiable categories. In other words, though the typological approach is most useful to differentiate meaningfully the aggregates of a population, it lacks the flexibility to deal with individuals on their own merits. Second, typological classification is rarely contextual; the determination of types tends to exclude temporal and spatial considerations.

Moreover, the very success and acceptance of a typological classification may, paradoxically, have a stultifying effect on the development of a scientific discipline, if the typological classification “freezes” the level of explanation. Since typologies have much more of a de facto explanatory status in the social sciences (especially sociology and psychology) than in the physical sciences, typological classification must share some of the responsibility for the retardation of more powerful theoretical explanations.

In some unguarded moments, researchers may give the impression that typological classification is tantamount to causal explanation. Thus, in describing the state of an individual’s behavior, premature reduction of explanation may take the form of the statement “X is a heavy smoker and drinker because he is essentially of the oral–erotic type,” or “Y votes Democratic, since he belongs to the working class.” To give typological classification this methodological status of being a first cause is to introduce stereotyping as a mode of scientific explanation. It should be seen that to assign an element of a population to a given type is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for explaining the particular attribute(s) and behavior of the individual. To explain away something by assigning it to a type is to short–circuit the explanation of that entity’s properties and actions in areas or dimensions different from those covered by the typology but equally significant in other respects. Typological explanation may be of some importance in accounting for nonhuman biological behavior (where there may be discernible species–specific instinctive reactions), but the greater differentiation of humans that results from the interaction of a complex genetic pool, learning ability, and conscious choice, as well as the historicity of human lives, makes any fixed types of doubtful value in explaining individual human behavior. The capacity of individuals, no less than human groupings, to change significantly (e.g., “conversion” experiences or social revolutions) must be kept firmly in mind by anyone who works with typologies. In brief, even the most elegant and sophisticated typology cannot be taken as an end in itself, but must always be seen as a link in the long chain of scientific understanding.

The tradition and its sources

In this section will be discussed some of the various intellectual sources which form a background for the typological tradition in the social sciences. We shall point out that there exist ever–recurrent ideological controversies which, going beyond sheer methodological objections, have left their mark on the typological approach as it appears in a wide variety of contexts.

One of the oldest genealogical branches of the typological tradition is the anatomical-physiological approach that is identified with Hippocrates, the father of medicine: since health is a normal state of affairs, medicine begins where the state of the body deviates from its healthy course. Hippocrates developed a classification consisting of two major types, one characterized by a long and thin body (the phthisic habitus), the other by a short, thick physique (the apoplectic habitus). Recognizing the physical type was of heuristic significance for the physician, since each type (as the name suggests) pointed to a constitutional predisposition to a deviant state of health. By drawing extreme physical types and correlating them with observable behavior (or, rather, with inner constitutional predispositions which, if not guarded against, would become manifest in pathological body states), Hippocrates quite early elaborated the rationale of a typological classification and its major characteristic: an external sign or physical condition pointing to an inner condition.

This branch of the tradition, then, was a forerunner of all those constructed on the basis of human constitutional differentiation. Specific classifications have included the differentiation of the human physique into types of temperaments (sanguine, phlegmatic, etc.) related to the basic elements of earth, air, fire, and water, with all this culminating in the notions of the zodiac, which is a complex typology of temperaments based on cosmic forces; racial types; geographical types (these and racial types being combined loosely, as in the types of Alpine, Nordic, Mediterranean, etc.); blood types; and so forth. These typologies have in common the feature of seeking to determine the propensities for behavior on the basis of physical structure. This constitutional school of psychology has had such adherents in modern times as Cesare Lombroso, Ernst Kretschmer, and, more recently, the American psychologist and medical researcher W. H. Sheldon (1940; 1942). It is worth noting that, since Hippocrates, such a typological approach tends to stress pathological deviations from a golden mean of normality: certain extreme physical conditions are regularly taken to correlate with types of inner mental conditions, which then become manifest in behavior of an undesirable sort (e.g., criminality, juvenile delinquency).

A related historical tradition also going back to classical antiquity is the field of characterology and personality studies. In this context, Plato’s Republic contains a systematic typological classification which may well be taken as a model for contemporary research in the field of “personality and social structure.” Plato constructed an ideal society, the republic, whose political organization is marked by optimal structural differentiation and functional interdependence of social aggregates, with each social stratum contributing to the welfare of the republic according to its abilities. The type of individual whose personality integration matches this harmonious ideal is the philosopher–king. Plato also created other types of societies, and their corresponding types of individuals, along a line of diminishing rationality of social organization and a corresponding decreasing order of happiness (the latter being the criterion to evaluate social being). Thus, Plato emerged with a typology of personality and social structure consisting of five major types, four of which are deviations from an ideal type of society. Not only are all the essential features of the methodology of typological classification contained in this seminal work, but it also provides a theoretical model of social change by specifying conditions under which change from one type of polity to another occurs. This feature of Plato’s thought is worth keeping in mind, since it suggests that a typological classification need not be concerned solely with the “static” analysis of social structure, nor need it neglect social processes.

Aristotle (who may be called the grandfather of taxonomy) devised, in his theory of social action, a sophisticated typology of social character (see, in particular, Ethics, books 3–5). Different types of motivation are distinguished by using the doctrine of the golden mean as a reference point; polar extremes are constructed so that for each basic type of motivation three social character types are isolated. Thus, the giving of wealth characterizes the Liberal Man; polar extremes of this motivation typify the Prodigal Man and the Stingy Man. For another grouping of individuals, it is the pursuit of honor which has motivational primacy; the person who seeks it in just proportion is the Brave Man, and polar deviations on either side characterize, as types, the Rash Man and the Coward. This typology of Aristotle’s (which is just one of his many attempts at the systematic classification of phenomena) may be taken as the prototype of all studies of human values that distinguish various types of personalities in terms of their basic motivational dispositions. In modern times, an important philosopher in this tradition is Wilhelm Dilthey, with his investigations of types of basic attitudes toward life (the study of Weltan–schauungen). Dilthey in turn greatly influenced Karl Mannheim, who dealt with fundamental types of political thought and motivation (e.g., “Utopian” and “ideological” attitudes). Mention should also be made of Eduard Spranger’s major work (1914), which differentiates six basic types of attitudes or values as characterizing the mental life of individuals. Spranger’s research has been followed up by the well–known Allport–Vernon test of personal values, which is an empirical instrument that facilitates the typological study of character. All this thought and research may justly be called Aristotelian.

Another early source in the history of typological classification is that of theology. Indeed, typology as a specific discipline first emerged in the theological study of symbols relating the Old Testament to the New Testament. Theologians found in the Old Testament not just historical accounts or religious admonitions but also symbolic prefigurations (or prototypes) of Christian revelation in the New Testament; for example, Jonah spending three days in the whale as a prefiguration of Christ’s descent into hell and resurrection on the third day. This theological aspect of typology deserves more than passing mention because, among the classic typological studies in sociology, those having an important religious dimension are perhaps the best known. Thus, if the “ideal type” methodology in sociology received its most sophisticated treatment in the research of Max Weber, it should be remembered that it was above all in the field of religious organizations and religious authority that Weber developed this approach. The sociology of religion can also claim the important typological studies of Ernst Troeltsch, Joachim Wach, and Howard Becker.

Moreover, typological classification in sociology has another root in religious studies: the social dualism of Augustine, which made him see all history in terms of two types of social organization— the city of God and the city of man (De civitate dei, books 15–18; see the discussion in Dawson [1930] 1960, pp. 57–61, 66–73). This dualism is the principal intellectual ancestor of so much that is central to religious thought and behavior in western Europe that it is not fanciful to compare St. Augustine’s “two cities” with the sacred–secular distinction as developed by such theorists of social organization as Ferdinand Tönnies, Èmile Durkheim, Robert Redfield, and Howard Becker. Finally, like Augustine, the sociologists and anthropologists who have made use of this polarity have done it primarily as a heuristic device, as a crucial standpoint from which to interpret historical processes of social change unfolding before the observer.

In the natural sciences, the major intellectual influence in the development of typological classification is Georges Cuvier, whose career spanned the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and who made the systematic classification of animals into an accepted scientific discipline. At the same time that Immanuel Kant was trying to rescue knowledge from the skepticism of Hume by introducing the notion of judgments that were both synthetic and a priori, Cuvier sought to rescue zoology from the skepticism of Buffon, who had placed stress on the infinite multiplicity of individual organisms. Cuvier’s equivalent of the Kantian synthetic a priori was a concept of classification based on the morphological stability of species (Coleman 1964, p. 74). In Cuvier’s system, the prime unit of classification is the type (or species); it is assumed that the organism has a natural “wholeness”—or, in other words, that there is a distinctly functional significance both in the continuing relationship between the parts of an organism and in the persistence of its morphological form. It is no accident, therefore, that Cuvier, one of the founders of comparative anatomy, has also been called “the high priest of typology” indeed, he may be seen as standing in the line of direct descent from Aristotelian teleology. More germane to our purpose, Cuvier’s methodology contains all the major premises and the approach of structural–functional analysis in modern sociological theory. Structural–functional analysis, which has been purged of its teleological aspect in the works of Talcott Parsons, Robert K. Merton, Kingsley Davis, and others (while the teleological element was very much present in its formulation by Bronislaw Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe–Brown), has its source in biological explanation; and this in turn can be traced back to Cuvier’s typological approach in comparative anatomy.

In all these various traditions (philosophical, biological, theological) typologies have been subjected to important recurrent controversies of an ideological nature which go beyond the methodological criticisms of typological classification noted in the previous section.

In philosophy, typological classification and its significance are involved in one of the oldest of all philosophical controversies: nominalism versus realism. The question as to whether essences, “forms,” or ideas exist ontologically, as the Platonic realist tradition holds, or whether the form is no more than an abstraction given in nomenclature, as the nominalist position would argue, has embroiled the notion of type in the same dispute. Are types just constructs, or are they necessarily dictated to observation by a natural arrangement of phenomena into organic wholes?

In theology, the controversy involving typology has been no less acute. One focus here has involved the question of treating objects taken from one context as prefigurative symbols heralding later events—that is, the question of whether there is an organic relation between the Old Testament and the New Testament (as the typologist school held) or whether they are essentially discrete. Another theological controversy was that in Byzantium between the iconoclasts and iconodules: here the problem was essentially whether an image (icon) of Christ had efficacious power deriving from its symbolic referent, and hence merited being worshiped, or whether it was just a concrete representation not related to anything covertly existent. This type of controversy concerning the nature of ultimate reality may seem both abstruse and idly speculative; however, typologies have often been involved in ideological controversies which are only lower–level instances of broad metaphysical problems, and these controversies cannot be ignored by social scientists.

At heart, the upholding of typologies and a typological classification is a conservative position, while an antitypological perspective is associated with a liberal ideology (Marxist thought is no exception to this since, although seemingly in favor of change, it has shown itself conservative in maintaining, for instance, that bourgeois and proletarian are fixed types). This may seem a rather unexpected statement; but when controversies involving typologies in various disciplines and at various times are examined, the conclusion is inescapable. The ideological criticism leveled at typologies based upon morphological structures is fundamentally that they are “undemocratic,” inasmuch as they assign individuals to fixed groups; moreover, those who have been the most ardent proponents of typological classifications have also had a perspective of the world that stresses traditional religion, the “fixity” of the creation, and the hierarchical arrangement of nature into well–defined strata. In fact, almost regardless of the discipline, typological classifications tend to have an evaluational component which goes against the grain of an individualistic–egalitarian outlook. Thus, the famous classification of Linnaeus (Linnè 1758) not only has a hierarchical arrangement of the plant and animal kingdoms, but within the latter the species of mankind are evaluated into higher and lower positions. The linguistic typology of Friedrich von Schlegel (1808) evaluated inflectional languages (Indo–European) as having a certain vitality not shared by affix languages; and even such a recent study as that by T. W. Adorno and others, The Authoritarian Personality (1950), which focuses on two distinct personality types, carries an evaluational bias in favor of the one “good” type. Hence, the use of typologies has not been “affectively neutral” rather, it has been attended by an unwitting moral evaluation of hierarchically drawn types—even if the types were originally taken to be on the same plane.

It may be pointed out that, in our own times, typological methods and approaches are in disrepute. The causes of this can be traced to the individualistic and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution, on the one hand, and the impact of evolutionary doctrine, on the other. The ideology of the revolution constituted an attack against all static and hierarchical categorizations of human beings, because it attacked the idea of allotting any individual to a predetermined social status. The theory of evolution, with its stress on the adaptation of an animal population over time through variation, is opposed to the Linnaean doctrine of the eternal fixity of species (species tot sunt, quot formae ab initio creatae sunt).

In any case, there is a deep cleavage between the traditional typological and the modern anti–typological outlooks. The “new” perspective on typologies and taxonomy (Simpson 1961) is in terms of a nominalist position; types are used for nomenclature only. Even so, the classification of specimens in a field seemingly so remote from current events as paleontology (Washburn 1963) is still very much affected by ideological controversies.

In relation to its general task of taxonomy, the traditional typological outlook was never able to eliminate the problem of how to account for observable species variations and gradations. The evolutionary taxonomist of today is faced with the converse problem: how to account for the continuity and uniformity that can be observed in all species. Both approaches have their dangers; for instance, if the typologist is so concerned with the central tendency of a population that he may disregard dispersion (in space and time), so also may the antitypologist run the risk of being so concerned with individual deviations that he may lose sight of the central tendency that gives the group its mean or aggregate characteristic. As limiting cases, the pure case for typology would be established if, for given behavioral items, human groups had for each group one and only one score or response; the strict case against typologies would require, correspondingly, that there be as many different responses as there are individuals measured. It should be clear to all but extreme dogmatists that the question of whether types are “real” is a metaphysical one and should be left to philosophers. What may be asserted here is that for purposes of scientific research, types treated as central tendencies are no less necessary than variations from the type. Sophisticated users of typologies have fully realized that quantitative differences between individuals assigned to the same category may be, for another part of the investigation, as significant as qualitative differences between the categories themselves. In other words, differences in degree are as essential to a good typology as differences in kind. If this caveat is observed, and if one also remembers that, in our everyday life, we experience nature as a continuum (Natura non facit saltus), the social scientist may put typological classification to fruitful use and bypass the ideological issues.

Some modern contributions

Although typological classification has been the source of much controversy, the development of the social sciences during this century has involved typological research to a considerable extent. For instance, the “ideal type” is of pivotal importance in Max Weber’s theoretical and comparative analyses of social structures and social change. The “theory of action” developed by Talcott Parsons and associates not only owes much to Weber for its inspiration, but may be seen, in terms of the present context, as an elaborate typological classification of interrelated systems of action. Georg Simmel, a contemporary of Weber’s in Germany (a country which, for reasons still unclear to this writer, has been the radiating center for typological investigations of all sorts), independently developed an approach to sociological theory that is fundamentally morphological and typological. Unlike Weber, his interests in social types and forms of interaction led him to a mainly descriptive rather than an interpretive use of types. Simmel’s studies of types greatly influenced Robert E. Park and such associates of his in the Chicago school as Louis–Wirth. A recent contribution to this tradition is Orrin E. Klapp’s study (1962) of American national character as revealed by the high or low esteem in which various social types are held. At the level of general sociological theory, the use of typology in the work of Georges Gurvitch is as important as it is in the work of Parsons. Gurvitch stated ([1950] 1963, p. 478) that the method of sociology is typological, and he has given much attention to the typology of social structures and social groupings, particularly to types of global societies (1958, pp. 216–233).

Since Weber’s death, the use of his ideal type analysis has been extended, notably by Howard Becker and John C. McKinney (1966) in their elaboration of the methodology of “constructive typology.” At a different level, Paul F. Lazarsfeld (1937) developed the logic of “qualitative analysis,” which is related to the “latent structure” analysis that he later developed for use in the measurement of attitudes. It should be noted that this approach explicitly rests on the assumption of stable types of attitudes; it therefore constitutes a refined, formalized, and quantifiable elaboration of typological procedures.

Studies of attitudes in social psychology by means of scales and other measurements are in spirit typological, since they presuppose the existence of underlying attitude types. Indeed, it may be suggested that Guttman scales conform to Simpson’s description (1945, p. 3) of “archetypal” classifications found in the Linnaean system [see Scaling.]

German–speaking scholars have been among the most important figures in the development of social psychology. Here, again, the influence of Dilthey has been immense. In the field of personality studies, the outstanding example of the typological approach is undoubtedly Jung’s Psychological Types (1921), which owes part of its inspiration to Dilthey. The cornerstone of Jung’s “analytic psychology” is the comprehensive relation of four basic types of activity (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition) to the libidinal flow of intentionality (subject versus object orientation, or introversion–extra version). At the level of personality, this conjunction yields two major types, each having four distinct varieties.

In extending his studies historically and cross–culturally, Jung further developed the notion of archetypes as primitive molds or images of the psyche that structure our psychological apprehension of the world. Although the heat of controversy involving this concept still obscures its heuristic merit, archetypes may be thought of as having the function, at the psychic level, that the Kantian categories fulfill at the conscious level.

Most clinical psychology is heavily indebted to the notion of “personality type” indeed, clinical studies implicitly look for deviations from an imagined “normal” person. Thus the delineation of clinical syndromes is, in effect, a constructive typology at the personality level, though wide variations exist between researchers as to what sorts of traits are seen as clustering. In fact, many of the problems of therapy stem from the difficulty of applying the existing diagnostic categories to cases that were never envisaged when these categories were first devised.

Jung’s treatment of personality types owes some of its inspiration to Nietzsche, who formulated, as two dialectically related types of cultural personality, the affective Dionysian and the rational Apollonian. This conceptual dichotomy has been almost as influential in the intellectual history of the social sciences as Tönnies’ division of types of social structure into Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Nietzsche’s influence has loomed particularly large in the attempt to characterize types of sociocultural systems which has been one focus of attention in cultural anthropology. The distinction between Apollonian and Dionysian is reflected in Oswald Spengler’s notions of Classical and Faustian civilizations; it also reappears in Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture (1934). In this context might be mentioned the research of Pitirim Sorokin into fundamental types of sociocultural systems, and the more recent work of Florence Kluckhohn. Ruth Benedict’s work stimulated new research in national character, a field that presupposes the existence of natural “types” of personality. The most widely read of recent studies in this genre is probably The Lonely Crowd (1950), by David Riesman and his associates.

The future of typological research

In an essay first published in 1903, Emile Durk–heim, in collaboration with Marcel Mauss, called for the development of a branch of sociology, to be known as “social morphology,” whose primary task would be to develop the systematic classification of social types or species in relation to social structure. Recent events have underscored the need for a precise typology of societies so as to avoid an oversimplified view of social and economic change. Much of the literature on economic development has suffered from problems involved in the simplistic dichotomy of “developed” and “underdeveloped” countries. If heed were paid to Durkheim, more attention would be placed on codifying the empirical materials by means of an elaborate and rigorous typology of societies. But there is another vast area involving typologies which is just now beginning to be investigated, although it was outlined long ago by Durkheim and Mauss. Its general content can be outlined as follows.

If, in spite of acute controversies and criticisms, the construction of types (as we have seen) remains an ever–present feature of empirical investigations, it may well be that typologizing, in the sense of structuring the world or perceiving it by means of categorial types, is a basic orientation of human agents to their situation. Further, it can be seen as a fundamental perceptual activity which may well be subject to sociocultural conditioning in the socialization process. The grouping and classification of objects into distinct types is, in this sense, a basic human activity presupposed in more complex behavior patterns.

Durkheim and Mauss (1903) insisted that types are not just logical categories, but also affective collective symbols of classification. Implicit in their discussion is the notion that sociology and social anthropology should also concern themselves with the “natural typologies” found in various societies; that is, the symbolic classification of entities into types should be treated as primary ethnological data. They call attention to the theoretical significance of “folk classifications”—which might be termed “existential typologies,” since they reflect conditions of existence of human subjects themselves.

In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the methodology of constructed typologies; but what has been overlooked, for the most part, is that these may be thought of as special instances of human typologizing. However, the significance of classifications, and the symbolic aspects of groupings and categories, have aroused fresh interest in modern structural anthropology, notably in the writings of E. R. Leach and Rodney Needham in England, Thomas Beidelman in the United States, and, perhaps best known, Claude Lévi–Strauss in France (1962; 1964). These authors have concentrated their attention on the cognitive structures implicit in certain “folk classifications" of such things as plants, animals, colors, and kinship terminology. Finally, we may note an important convergence between sociology and anthropology in this context. The phenomenological approach in sociology, which owes much of its inspiration to both Max Weber and Edmund Husserl, has placed great emphasis upon the everyday typifications which structure the life–world (Lebenswelt) of actors. Attention to such typologizing of social reality as a primary datum of sociological analysis has been given in the writings of Alfred Schutz (1962) and his followers, such as Maurice Natanson and Harold Garfinkel.

It is an extension of this path of research which seems particularly promising, since a phenomenology of typologies opens up a host of meaningful interdisciplinary research problems. What cultural variations are significant in differentiating folk typologies? What are the major dimensions of these existential typologies? How do individual actors and collectivities integrate multiple typologies? Under what conditions do actors “test” their typologies and adopt new ones? Which typological classifications are more impervious to social change? What sort of correspondence is there between scientific or constructive typologies and existential ones? These and many related questions are suggestive of the important research problems which typological classification still offers to sociology, psychology, and anthropology, both separately and in collaboration.

Edward A. Tiryakian

[Directly related are the entrieshistory, article on The philosophy of history; Knowledge, Sociology Of; Linguistics; Multivariate analysis, article onclassification and discrimination; sociology, article onthe development of sociological thought. Other relevant material may be found incontent analysis,– phenomenology; social structure; and in the biographies ofaristotle; augustine; becker; benedict; dilthey; durkheim; jung; kant; kretschmer; lombroso; malinowski; mannheim; mauss; park; plato; radcliffe– brown; redfield; schutz; simmel; sorokin; spencer; spengler; tonnies; troeltsch; weber, max; Wirth.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Becker, Howard 1950 Through Values to Social Interpretation: Essays on Social Contexts, Actions, Types and Prospects. Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press. → See especially Chapters 2 and 5.

Benedict, Ruth (1934) 1959 Patterns of Culture. 2d ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. → A paperback edition was published in 1961.

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Typology

Typology (Gk., typos, ‘example, figure’). A method of exegesis which takes a text as having a symbolic or anticipatory reference in addition to its apparent historical sense. It is characteristic of traditional Christian readings of the Old Testament.

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typology

typology System of groupings that aids understanding of the things being studied by distinguishing certain attributes or qualities among them that serve to link them together into a closed set of items.

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Typologies

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"Typologies." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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typology

typology. Study of symbolic representation or of types.

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"typology." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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typology

typology See TAXONOMY.

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