The articles under this heading provide a broad introduction to the discipline of sociology: the history of sociology as an academic field; the major strands of thought that have contributed to the current body of theory; and an account of various early attempts in England and on the Continent to provide systematic quantitative knowledge about human society. All the major subfields of sociology are represented in the encyclopedia; for a list of articles relevant to sociology, consult the classified list of articles in the index volume.
I. The FieldAlbert J. Reiss, Jr.
II. The Development of Sociological ThoughtShmuel N. Eisenstadt
III. The Early History of Social ResearchBernard Lécuyer and Anthony R. Oberschall
A commonly accepted definition of sociology as a special science is that it is the study of social aggregates and groups in their institutional organization, of institutions and their organization, and of the causes and consequences of changes in institutions and social organization. The major units of sociological inquiry are social systems and their subsystems; social institutions and social structure; and social aggregates, relationships, groups, and organizations.
Sociological units. The most inclusive sociological unit is the social system, which is constituted by the interaction of a plurality of actors whose relations to each other are mutually oriented by institutions. A society is an empirical social system that is territorially organized, with its members recruited by sexual reproduction within it, and that persists beyond the life-span of any individual member by socializing new members into its institutions. Any social system has subsystems that are partial systems functionally related to it, such as human ecological systems and kinship, legal, educational, and ideological or religious subsystems.
Social institutions are general patterns of norms that define behavior in social relationships. Institutions define how people ought to behave and legitimate the sanctions applied to behavior. Contract is a good example of a social institution: as an institution, it consists of quite general norms that regulate entry into and the consequences of contractual agreements; it prescribes neither who shall enter into such agreements nor—within certain institutionally defined limits—what the agreements shall contain. Finally, social structure, or social morphology, is the integration and stabilization of social interaction through an organization of statuses and roles, such as age, sex, or class.
Sociologists are primarily interested in human beings as they appear in social interaction, i.e., as actors taking account of one another in their behavior. The major systems or units of interaction that interest sociologists are social groups, such as the family or peer group; social relationships, such as social roles and dyadic relationships; and social organizations, from such formal or bureaucratic organizations as governments, corporations, and school systems to such territorial organizations as communities or to the schools, factories, churches, etc., that are components of communities. Although sociologists are principally concerned with human beings in social interaction, they are also concerned with social aggregates, or populations, in their institutional organization.
Sociologists are interested in the analytical properties of these sociological units and treat the relationships among them as problematic. Thus, they are interested in such properties of the processes of institutionalization as legitimation, consensus, and stratification. They concern themselves with elements of social relationships, such as power and dominance, or elements of interaction, such as coercion and reciprocity. They investigate the properties and processes of groups or organizations, such as their capacity to take collective action toward goals, as in the sanctioning of deviant behavior or the allocation of organizational resources.
Types of sociological theory. The theories of sociology make problematic the relationships among the analytical properties of the units. The character of the theory in each case defines the problematics. For example, ecological theory in sociology is concerned primarily with the causal interconnections in the human ecological complex: technological accumulation at an accelerated rate, exploitation of the environment, demographic transition, and organizational revolution (Duncan 1961; Duncan & Schnore 1959). A macrosociological theory, such as that of Talcott Parsons, originally made problematic how various value and motivational orientations of actors are institutionalized and organized as social systems (1951; 1938-1953). In later elaborations of his theory Parsons has focused more on the internal dynamics of social systems, though he has largely neglected to make external relationships problematic (I960; 1966).
The writings of early sociologists either consisted largely in speculation or were grand philosophical achievements of a synthetic sort that did not lend themselves to the development of a body of knowledge which was cumulative and also met the canons of science. Over time, most sociologists have come to use what Robert K. Merton (1949) called theories of the middle range. These are theories that include a limited number of interrelated concepts from which one may derive hypotheses that can be investigated through empirical research. An example from Merton‘s own writings is that of reference group theory ( 1957, chapter 8).
Schools of sociology. The history of sociology discloses several major strategies for dealing with its theoretical and methodological problems. To a degree these strategies represent schools within sociology, but the lines are by no means firmly drawn. Human ecologists and demographers are concerned with problems that involve the investigation of social aggregates. They are particularly interested in the morphological or structural characteristics of these aggregates, such as age, sex, race, education, and income. Another school, often characterized as formal sociology, is associated particularly with the work of Georg Simmel and of phenomenologists such as Alfred Vierkandt; more recently, it has included some investigators of small groups. The emphasis in formal sociology is on studying societal forms, particularly forms of interaction or association, such as dyadic relationships. Formal sociology focuses on the “essence” of phenomena in which form is a principle of individuation and organization. The primary goal of this type of sociology is description of human groups and processes in social relationships. A third school is characterized as historical-interpretative sociology; its emphasis is as macroscopic as that of formal sociology is microscopic. Attempts are made to describe the general features of the history of man, to delineate the different spheres of the historical world, and to understand ideas as the expression of historical periods or events. The major works of Max Weber and the German historical school, particularly Weber‘s methodological writings, have served as a model for contemporary historical sociology (Aron 1935). However, most writing in contemporary sociology focuses on relational properties among persons as social actors (an emphasis characteristic of much work in social psychology) or on the relationship among properties of institutions and organizations in societies or social systems (an emphasis that practically defines the field of social organization).
Sociology and the other social sciences
The relationship of sociology to the other social or behavioral sciences is much debated. Is sociology, as Comte would have had it, the queen of the social sciences—a general social science of societies? Or is it a more specialized social science, one that systematizes problems that can be defined as sociological, as distinct from economic, psychological, or cultural?
The most systematic modern attempt to resolve this question is found in the writings of Parsons (1938-1953; 1951; 1960; 1966). In Parsons‘ view, sociological theory is an aspect of the theory of social systems and sociology is thereby defined as a special social science. Sociology is concerned “. . . with the phenomena of the institutionalization of patterns of value-orientation in the social system, with the conditions of that institutionalization, and of changes in the patterns, with conditions of conformity with and deviance from a set of such patterns and with motivational processes in so far as they are involved in all of these” (1951, p. 552).
The other major theory of social systems, according to Parsons, is that of economics; it is “. . . concerned with the phenomena of rational decision-making and the consequences of these decisions within an institutionalized system of exchange relationships” (ibid., p. 550). Within this framework, political science is viewed as a synthetic rather than a special social science, constructed as it is around a restricted set of variables concerned with political power rather than around a scientifically distinctive analytical scheme.
Parsons, furthermore, has defined the theory of the social system as but one of three analytical sciences of action, the other two being the theory of personality and the theory of culture. The theory of cultural systems is the particular province of anthropology, and that of personality systems is generic to psychology [see Systems Analysis, article on Social Systems; see also Parsons & Shils 1951; Parsons 1951, chapter 12].
Sociologists work on problems that are related to the subject matter of other disciplines, both humanistic and scientific. For the most part, however, these problems fall within fields that are part of sociology, and they are dealt with from a sociological perspective. Thus, although problems of knowledge are indeed treated by the sociology of knowledge, and although the sociology of knowledge is in an important sense a branch of epistemology, it has not developed as an interstitial field between sociology and philosophy. The same may be said of such fields as historical sociology and sociolinguistics, as they have so far been developed within sociology.
Historically, some disciplines did emerge as interstitial to their parent disciplines. The most notable cases in the history of sociology are human ecology (or human geography, as it is called in some countries), demography, and social psychology. Social psychology, a subfield of both psychology and sociology, is concerned primarily with personalities and motivational processes as they relate to the institutional organization of societies. Demography and human ecology are somewhat different, perhaps not qualifying fully as interstitial disciplines. Human ecology broadly conceived as an aspect of ecosystem theory is interstitial to the environmental and social sciences. The development of a theory of the ecosystem, however, is in a rudimentary state; for that reason much of the work in human ecology is carried on within the separate environmental and social sciences rather than in any border discipline. Work in demography is carried on largely by sociologists and economists, though more recently biomedical scientists have joined them in a synthetic field that is becoming known as population studies.
The fields of sociology
There is no altogether rational division of sociology into fields of inquiry that are both derived from a general sociological theory and susceptible to relatively independent investigation and formulation as separate bodies of knowledge. Lacking a commonly accepted sociological theory that would permit such rational division of sociology, sociologists have developed fields of interest around the major units of sociological inquiry described above and around certain social problems, such as juvenile delinquency, that have come to constitute fields through being viewed in a sociological perspective.
Comte‘s division of sociology into “social statics” and “social dynamics” dominated much of the writing of Herbert Spencer and Lester F. Ward (see especially Ward 1883, volume 1). With the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline, there was a tendency, particularly in American sociology, to classify it in a more detailed fashion into subject-matter fields as a means of organizing the curriculum. At the same time, leading scholars—particularly when, like Durkheim, they served as editors of major journals—felt called upon to divide sociology into “fields” in which a sociological perspective was applicable.
The 1902 volume of L‘annee sociologique presented such a scholarly classification, by Durkheim and his editorial colleagues, of publications in sociology. They subdivided sociology into the fields of general sociology, religious sociology, juridical and moral sociology, criminal sociology and moral statistics, economic sociology, social morphology, and a miscellaneous group including aesthetic sociology, technology, language, and war. The editors noted that the Zeitschrift fur Socialwissenschaft, the Rivista italiana di sociologia, and the Vierteljahrschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie und Sozi!ologie utilized some other categories. In the Zeitschrift, for instance, one finds mass and individual psychology, medicine and hygiene, social history and social jurisprudence, and social philosophy and social ethics. The Rivista included politics, social psychology, and demography, while the Vierteljahrschrift included psychology and the science of language, aesthetics, and education. Quite clearly, by 1902 sociologists had identified most of what were to become the major fields of scholarly interest in sociology during the next five decades.
These fields of sociology were not given anywhere near equal attention in every country, nor did sociologists in any country give more than token attention to some of these fields until quite recently. Interesting and important contrasts developed among the countries in the attention given to various fields. Some fields that developed quite early in the European countries were given only token attention in the United States until World War II, after which they developed quite rapidly. Among the more important of these were political sociology, the sociology of law, and the sociology of religion. Among the fields that still receive only occasional attention in American sociology, as contrasted with the attention given them in some European countries, are the sociology of the creative and per-forming arts, of sport, and of language. Apart from shaping the development of the sociology of science, American sociologists have done little work in the sociology of knowledge.
American developments before 1940. The rather late development in American sociology of some of the fields listed above is the result of a variety of factors, two of which stand out as particularly important. First, American universities separate sociology more sharply from some other academic disciplines than do European universities. This is particularly notable in the case of law, which in the United States is taught in professional schools quite separate from the faculties of philosophy, the sciences, and the humanities. Indeed, prior to 1940, American sociologists had little contact with professional schools other than those of social work and education. Furthermore, in their drive toward status as scientific disciplines, all of the social sciences in American universities were increasingly divorced from the humanistic disciplines and the arts. Even today this is true, so that American sociologists undertake little work on the sociology of the creative or performing arts [see, however, Creativity, article on Social Aspects; Fine Arts, article on The Recruitment and Socialization of Artists]. Since history, more often than not, is defined as a humanistic discipline, American sociology has been ahistorical. No doubt the fact that many American sociologists took the natural science model of investigation as a desideratum also led to the separation of sociology from both history and the humanities, including philosophy.
A second major factor accounting for the failure of American sociology to develop some of the problems of concern to European sociologists has been the deliberate neglect of problems of value—of how values are institutionalized and how they are organized in American or other societies. While there were exceptions, such as the studies of immigrant groups by W. I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki (1918-1920), American sociologists generally took values for granted and were inclined to make values problematic only in the limited sense that they believed a truly scientific sociology had to be “value-free.” Furthermore, they did not generally think of values as amenable to empirical investigation except when they took the form of personal attitudes or opinions. Comparative studies of values in belief systems such as the ideological, religious, and legal systems were therefore unlikely to be investigated.
To be sure, American sociologists gradually began to investigate problems in some of these fields, but largely through other generic interests in sociology, such as occupations and professions or the social organization of work, rather than through an interest in comparative institutions or systems. Thus, the sociology of law began largely with studies of lawyers; the sociology of medicine, with studies of doctors and the social organization of doctor-patient relationships in hospitals; and the sociology of the arts through studies of musicians and writers.
American sociology, however, was almost alone in its attempts to develop research methodology as a special field. Although few of the major techniques for gathering and analyzing data were in-vented by American sociologists, these techniques were readily accepted as part of the sociological curriculum and their use became a criterion—sometimes mistakenly applied—for evaluating the state of “the science.” Recently, American sociologists have rather self-consciously developed the field of mathematical sociology, noteworthy more for its attempts to formalize models of behavior or organization by mathematical means than for its theoretical or substantive contributions to sociology.
Although in European countries human geography continued to develop, it grew primarily out-side of sociology [see Geography]. American sociologists, however, developed human ecology, which has much in common with human geography. The only comparable development in Europe was that of social morphology in France, under Durkheim and his disciple Maurice Halbwachs.
Up to 1940 American sociology appeared to contain a substantial number of fields of inquiry in addition to sociological theory and methods of re-search. One cluster included community study, with human ecology, rural sociology, and urban sociology as major divisions. Another was that of social problems, with race relations, poverty and dependency, and juvenile delinquency being important specialties. Social psychiatry emerged as a special field with a strong interest in mental health; now it arouses considerably less interest and is regarded as a part of social psychology. Demography and the family were the other major areas of interest during the period before 1940. Sociology curricula also included courses that covered rather broad interests—the main courses of this kind were social institutions, social organization, and social change; after 1945 the subject matter of these courses was integrated with new special fields.
Fields in modern American sociology. The development of fields of interest in sociology may be viewed as a problem in the sociology of knowledge. While problem finding in sociology undoubtedly is a result of the growth of theory and method, it also is subject to social determinants within the society (Merton  1957, pp. ix-xxiv). The problems of the immigrant in American society, and more recently of the Negro minority, undoubtedly influenced the development of the field of race and ethnic relations within American sociology more than did the theory of culture contact or intergroup relations. Similarly, the strong interest in ideology within European political sociology and the dominance of Marxist sociology in the east European countries and the Soviet Union are intimately connected with changes in the political systems of those countries. The importance of historical conditions and events in determining the fields and problems of sociology undoubtedly has been far greater than any influence from the cumulative development of the science. The resources available in any society for the investigation of given problem areas naturally affect the relative growth of specialties in any science, but these resources are allocated according to the historical significance of the problem areas.
The number of special areas of inquiry in American sociology has grown so large that a typical program of the American Sociological Association includes papers in some forty areas. The National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel in the United States lists 53 specialties within sociology. But these specialties are usually grouped into a much smaller number of broad fields of inquiry. The emerging organization of the discipline can be described as follows: (1) sociological theory and methodology; (2) social organization, including comparative institutions, comparative social organization, and comparative social structure (or, as it is sometimes called, social morphology); (3) social groups. Demography, human ecology, and social psychology continue as major interstitial disciplines with strong programs in academic departments of sociology or as joint programs with the departments of other sciences. There remains a strong interest in what now is generally called applied sociology, including social planning and social problems.
Specialties within sociology are increasingly likely to derive their core problems from sociological theory (Paris 1964; March 1965). There is also less separation between theory and methodology. More and more, sociologists who work either in the interstitial fields or in applied sociology define the problematics of their specialties in terms of generic problems of sociological interest (Lazarsfeld et al. 1967). The work of sociologists today in criminology, for example, no longer covers the entire field. Rather, it focuses on the sociology of crime: problems of interaction between victims and offenders, socialization into delinquent and criminal behavior, sanctions and the formal organization of sanctioning systems, and the differential social risks of and opportunities for crime that are structured into social systems. Within social psychology, sociologists have turned their interests to the more generic problems of role socialization—the relationship of social structure and organization to personality and of social institutions to personality systems—and to explanations of conformity and deviant behavior. Human ecologists are giving major attention to organized communal networks, to the division of labor and its stratification, and to the growth and organization of technology. Within demography, sociologists have turned increasingly to the questions of how social institutions and social structure help to determine the basic processes of fertility, mortality, and morbidity, as well as the secondary processes of migration and the structural differentiation of the labor force. Both formal and comparative demography are growing as areas of specialization.
Within these major divisions of sociology, the fields of comparative institutions and comparative social organization have not yet been subdivided into distinct analytical areas. Some analytical organization is apparent; it derives either from an interest in some major analytical properties of the units of social organization or of institutions, or from an interest in some set of problems in institutions and institutional organization. Interest in social change, for instance, may be reflected in the study of collective behavior and social movements or in the study of the social and economic development of the new nations. Specialization in social stratification or occupations and professions derives from the more generic interest in social structure or morphology. Formal or bureaucratic organization has emerged as a specialty in comparative social organization.
The formidable task of mastering the literature on institutions and their organization, together with the social organization of academic inquiry and training, has led to a whole series of fields of specialization focusing on particular institutions and their organization into subsystems of societies. Among the more prominent of such special fields are economy and society, political sociology, indus-trial sociology, and the sociology of education, of religion, of medicine, of law, of leisure and sport, and of science. Set somewhat apart is the sociology of knowledge, with its strong roots in epistemology as well as in sociology.
There is growing interest as well in certain synthetic areas that may emerge as interstitial disciplines. Among these are sociolinguistics, the sociology of culture (as in the study of popular culture), and the field of mass communication and public opinion. Applied sociology includes the traditional areas of criminology and juvenile delinquency, and areas of more recent origin, such as mental health, social gerontology, and poverty and dependency. Following a period during which there was a shift from an emphasis on social reform, there has arisen a growing interest in empirical research related to the problems and policies of formal organizations. Accordingly, research undertaken with practical applications in view can now be found in almost all major fields of sociology (Gouldner & Miller 1965).
The origins of sociology as a science
Sociology as a more or less systematic body of knowledge emerged late among the scientific disciplines. The major problems in sociological theory—broadly conceived—recur in the writings of learned men of all periods. They relate to the nature of man as it is influenced by group behavior and by the social order in general. But it was not until late in the nineteenth century that attempts were made to organize the problematics of sociology into a science, either in the general sense of a science of society as a system with its own principles of organization and change or in the more specific sense of a systematic attempt to describe and ex-plain how values and norms enter into social organization, how institutions are organized in societies, or how societies and their organized subsystems change.
The emergence of sociology among the sciences is itself treated as problematic within sociology or, more precisely, as a problem in the sociology of knowledge. The preconditions for its emergence can be traced both to currents of thought that began with the Enlightenment and to social changes in the nineteenth century that generated both social problems and reform movements. These developments placed the nature of societies and their change in a problematic light.
In his concise account of the history of sociology in the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, R. M. Maclver stated: “The rise of sociology comes with the perception that no one order of social phenomena is adequate to comprehend, directly or indirectly, the manifold activities, processes and trends of society, a perception which itself was advanced by the increasing range and complexity of social relationships which began with the era of modern civilization” (1934, p. 235). Thus, the rise of sociology as a distinct discipline did not parallel in any exact sense its rise as a scientific discipline, which depended not only on the recognition that societies are systems with their own principles of organization and change but also upon the application of scientific method and techniques of investigation that are appropriate, if not unique, to the empirical study of societies.
Both of these concerns were stated in a general way by Comte in his Cours de philosophic positive (1830-1842) and his Systeme de politique positive (1851-1854). Yet Comte was more the godfather than the progenitor of sociology, providing only its name and, in positivism, a philosophy that helped shape the discipline as a science. In fact, Comte‘s conception of sociology as both a general and a special social science and his definition of its problematics are now primarily of historical interest. His major concern was with the political and practical reorganization of society conceived of as the totality of human experience and thought. He believed more in the evolution of the human mind than in the evolution of societal forms and processes. He therefore sought to advocate rather than to prove that the application of what he called positivistic methods would establish that the evolution of the human mind follows definite laws.
Sociology emerged as a special discipline among the social sciences toward the end of the nineteenth century. To attribute its rise to a particular historical circumstance or to the writings of a particular man is somewhat arbitrary. Nonetheless, one can argue strongly that sociology as a special science of society had its origins in France, and that the sociologist who contributed the most to its emergence was fimile Durkheim.
The tradition of social research. Charting the rise of sociology as a special social science discipline in the nineteenth century, we find that two major traditions of scholarship coalesced in Durkheim‘s work. One of these was a tradition of empirical research; the other, the development of abstract conceptions of society.
There were two major elements in the tradition of empirical social research. The first of these to emerge was the collection and quantification of social data that were relevant to matters of the state—an early beginning of the policy sciences [see Census; Government Statistics; Vital Statistics]. The second, though it did not eschew quantification, was more concerned with the observation of social life and the development of techniques for gathering as well as analyzing social data (Lazarsfeld 1961).
The tradition of quantification in social research originated with the English “political arithmeticians,” notably John Graunt and William Petty, and with the development in Belgium and France of statistique morale. The object of political arithmetic, as its name implies, was to obtain descriptive statistics for use in public policy and administration. However, the rise of insurance systems and other commercial activities may have led to other than political needs for this kind of quantification (Lazarsfeld 1961, p. 279). Description of local and state populations was among the first statistical tasks to be undertaken systematically, so that the tradition of political arithmetic in England seems more directly linked to the development of modern demography than of sociology as a special science.
The second major development in the early history of quantification, namely, statistique morale, is usually attributed to the Belgian, Adolphe Quetelet. But while Quetelet gained a larger audience than any other man associated with statistique morale, claims that he was the first in the field can be disputed. The concept of statistique morale and much statistical work not only on crime but also on suicide, illegitimacy, and similar phenomena appear in the work of Andre de Guerry de Champneuf, director of the Department of Criminal Justice in the French Ministry of Justice from 1821 to 1835 (see Guerry 1833). Work along the same lines was done also by Jean Baptiste Fourier and Andre de Chabrol de Crousol; they contributed statistical studies during the period from 1821 to 1829 to the Recherches statistiques sur la mile de Paris et le departement de la Seine (see Seine . . . 1821-1860). At the same time, the French physician Parent-Duchatelet undertook research on public health that led to a series of publications of the same kind, the most famous .being his study of prostitution (1834), which stands as one of the early contributions to human ecology as well as to moral statistics [see Sociology, article on The Early History of Social Research].
But even if we abandon the attempt to settle claims to priority, we must conclude from the available evidence that early in the nineteenth century considerably more empirical work in statistique morale was under way in France than in Belgium. The attention this work attracted did much to acquaint all learned Frenchmen with quantitative empirical research into social facts. Parent-Duchatelet, for example, was inspired to do ingenious work in collecting and analyzing data on the recruitment and social origins of Paris prostitutes. As a result of these early French developments, Durkheim was perhaps more familiar with the tradition of quantitative research represented by statistique morale than with the achievements of political arithmetic.
A second major branch of empirical research that clearly originated in France is that associated with the work of Frederic Le Play. Though obviously interested in quantification, Le Play invented new techniques for both gathering and analyzing nonquantitative data. While Le Play is perhaps best known for his emphasis on the empirical observation of contemporary social life, particularly his studies of family budgets, he was much concerned with the development of social indicators and with the problems of classification that arise in the analysis of social data (Lazarsfeld 1961).
Despite Le Play‘s great originality, his work had no direct impact on the development of sociology as a special science in France. The main reason for this appears to lie in the fact that Le Play was as much linked with his own reform movement, which espoused a conservative view of society, as he was with social research. His followers founded a journal with the promising name of Science sociale, but they eventually divided into two camps, one clearly reformist and one identified more with Le Play‘s method. [See the biography of Le Play.] Durkheim meanwhile gained the dominant position in French sociology, in part perhaps because he was an influential member of the rising group of French intellectuals that had won in the Dreyfus affair.
The tradition of sociological theory. The other main tradition before Durkheim was that of sociological thought and, more specifically, the development of abstract conceptions of society, some of them very elaborate. Here I would list geographical determinists such as Friedrich Ratzel and H. T. Buckle, social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer and W. G. Sumner, and organismic theorists such as A. Schaeffle, P. Lillienfeld, Rene Worms, and J. Novicow. Other outstanding figures, such as Engels and Marx, were more closely identified during their lifetimes with socialist doctrines or economic theories than with the development of sociology as such. Marx‘s influence in shaping sociological theory came after his death and consisted mainly in having presented Max Weber with a set of sociological problems, but also in the development of a Marxist sociology that has pursued a largely independent course [see Marxist Sociology] .
Almost all of these early writers failed either to differentiate sociology as a special science of society or to make its scientific status problematic. Even though by the close of the nineteenth century most sociologists were writing essays arguing the case for sociology as a special science of society, it remained for Durkheim to state and document that case effectively by merging and making problematic the scientific elements in the two traditions I have mentioned.
Durkheim and scientific sociology. Many sociologists view Durkheim as having established scientific sociology through his quantitative empirical research on suicide, in which he approached suicide rates as sociological rather than as psychological phenomena. But it could as easily be argued that he established scientific sociology by his historical and nonquantitative research, for example, in his writings on religion. For Durkheim, method, not quantification, was the central issue. He sought both the theoretical problems that are fundamental to a study of human social organization and the method that is indispensable to such a study. Sociology, for Durkheim, was the study of “social facts,” and it should not be forgotten that his first major work after completing his French and Latin theses was The Rules of Sociological Method [1895; for a discussion of Durkheim‘s conception of social facts, see the biography of Durkheim]. In his introduction to this work Durkheim made it explicit that he considered his predecessors as having failed to advance “beyond the vague generalities on the nature of societies, on the relations between the social and the biological realms, and on the general march of progress” ( 1958, p. lix). Indeed, he went on to say:
Sociologists have been content, therefore, to compare the merits of deduction and induction and to make a superficial inquiry into the most -general means and methods at the command of the sociological investigators. But the precautions to be taken in the observation of facts, the manner in which the principal problems should be formulated, the direction research should take, the specific methods of work which may enable it to reach its conclusions—all these remained completely undetermined, (ibid., pp. lix-lx)
Whether Durkheim ever succeeded in making a case for sociology as a special science (let alone as the special synthesizing social science that he considered it to be) is, on the evidence of his essays about sociology and the social sciences, a debatable matter. Furthermore, he was clearly dissatisfied with his own attempts—so prominent among the contents of L‘année sociologique—to classify the subject matter of the field. Yet he never gave up these attempts, whether they consisted in delineating sociology as the study of social morphology or, as they did later, in the analysis of society in terms of shared systems of moral rules and values. As a result, his writings established the major problematics of modern sociology in both a theoretical and a methodological sense.
The study of social facts, Durkheim concluded, requires the genetic, or comparative, method. “Comparative sociology is not a particular branch of sociology; it is sociology itself, in so far as it ceases to be purely descriptive and aspires to account for facts” (ibid., p. 139). What he did not foresee was that the debate on method was far from settled; not only would the old controversies continue but they would take new forms. Before long, sociologists would engage in often bitter controversy over the empirical methods most appropriate for sociological use, the status of sociology as a science, and the role of quantification in sociological research. The battle lines were soon drawn as polemical positions.
Early empirical studies
Before considering the whole controversy over sociological method, it may be helpful to review briefly the history of quantitative social research in various countries as it relates to the development of sociology. Though there is no comprehensive historical study of quantitative social research, either generally or relating specifically to sociology, a number of accounts have dealt with its rise and development in particular countries.
Germany. Oberschall (1965) has carefully documented that there was much empirical social research in Germany from 1848 to 1914, but that it lacked continuity and failed to become institutionalized either in the universities or even in such organizations as the Verein fur Socialpolitik. Thus, quantitative research, despite attempts by Max Weber and other sociologists in the twentieth century, did not become part and parcel of the development of sociology in Germany. Oberschall adduced several arguments to account for this failure. He found the root cause in the German intellectual heritage: the prevalence of historicism and the legacy of idealist philosophy, which favored an intuitive and phenomenological approach to social phenomena. German sociology also did not succeed in developing a tradition of quantitative social research, partly because it was never institutionalized as a discipline and partly because academic sociologists such as Tonnies and Weber failed to overcome the hostile value climate of the university, the apathy of their colleagues, and lack of resources to further their attempts to establish empirical research as part of the university curriculum. Perhaps they failed also because their own attempts at such research were counted as failures, while their theoretical and historical studies were recognized as achievements.
France . The strong quantitative traditions of French demography and of the Le Play school have been reviewed by Lazarsfeld (1961). But the social reform elements in the Le Play school separated it in the long run from sociology as a special discipline, and the disciples of Le Play were rather more inclined to criticize their master than to develop his investigatory method and techniques. Nor did the Le Playists and their journal Science sociale ever become identified in any total sense with the French university system. This, too, must have contributed to the demise of the Le Play school.
It is not clear why Durkheim‘s quantitative work did not have more of an influence on the development of French sociology, since, apart from demo-graphic studies, there was little in French sociology that was quantitative until the years after World War n. Even now, there is no dominant group in France that emphasizes quantification in sociology. There are several explanations, none entirely satis-factory. It is true that Durkheim did little important quantitative work during the years when the future French sociologists were being trained. But during this same period Maurice Halbwachs published a quantitative study of suicide that was more elegant, from a statistical point of view, than Durkheim‘s, and Frangois Simiand branched into econometrics. However, the rapid development of ethnological re-search in French sociology and anthropology served to stifle the growth of a quantitative tradition.
England . The case of quantitative social research in England is somewhat different. Quantitative work of the kind associated since the late nineteenth century with Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree has continued to be done up to the present time, and has slowly but surely evolved into a tradition of social research, particularly through the development of the social survey. Beatrice and Sidney Webb, partly through the early association of Beatrice Webb with Charles Booth, assiduously fostered social research in England as a basis for public policy. During the early 1930s the Webbs wrote a text on methods of social research (1932) that emphasized quantitative as well as observational techniques of social investigation. The work of English statisticians in sampling affected social research in England before it had a similar impact in the United States. Social investigation in England nevertheless developed primarily outside the universities and quite independently of sociology. Indeed, a few government departments and private foundations accounted for nearly all of the empirical social research in England after 1930. Except at the London School of Economics, where, through the influence of the Webbs, academic sociology fostered some quantitative social research, there was virtually no quantitative sociological research of any sort in British universities until the 1950s.
The United States . It would have been difficult to foretell, at the end of the nineteenth century, that quantitative sociology was to have its greatest development in the United States. Indeed, it is not entirely clear even today why this should have been the case. The preconditions for such a development were not altogether favorable. Despite early attention to censuses of the population and to public accounting systems, both of which generated a plethora of statistics, there was perhaps less emphasis on empirical social research in the United States when sociology first gained academic status than there was during the same period in England, France, Germany, or Italy. Such early sociologists as Lester F. Ward, who came from a natural science background, showed little concern for empirical research. Others, such as Sumner, were primarily interested in making general cultural or historical comparisons after the manner of Spencer. Although Cooley‘s doctoral dissertation was a major empirical investigation of transportation, he was soon distinguished more for the art of introspection and reflective observation than for empirical research.
During this period, however, some statistical studies appeared under the auspices of academic sociology. The students of Franklin H. Giddings at Columbia University were introduced to statistics in their training. One of the early sociological dissertations at Columbia University was a statistical study by Adna F. Weber (1899) of the growth of cities in the world during the nineteenth century. The first volume of the American Journal of Sociology included an article on population statistics by Walter Willcox. It was only the first of a long series of articles in this area.
But more important than any single publication to the development of empirical sociology in the United States was the growing acceptance of academic sociology in the universities. Higher degrees necessitated the writing of both master‘s theses and doctoral dissertations. In sociology, these theses and dissertations soon became a reservoir of empirical research on contemporary social life. The studies carried out in fulfillment of degree requirements were not necessarily quantitative, nor did they at first usually involve quantitative analysis. Nevertheless, they were empirical in the broad sense that they involved original investigation of some aspect of social life. Although attempts usually were made to ground them in some general theory of social life, they tended to build more on the literature of previous investigations, generating a genuine tradition of empirical research, albeit one that did not result in the orderly accumulation of a body of scientific knowledge. Many of these early empirical studies were closely tied to movements for social reform and social progress in American society, and they did not conform to any model of comparative research. More often than not, they dealt with but a single case—a community, an organization, a social movement.
The debate over sociology as a science
As sociology evolved in the United States, there developed an almost obsessive concern with its status as a science. There were those who would make it one and those who argued it could not be one. Polemics on each side may have been equally heated, but it was a somewhat unequal contest because the “scientific” group vindicated its position by fostering a strongly empirical tradition that increasingly succeeded in quantifying social data and inventing techniques of investigation. Their opponents, on the other hand, had little to offer but timeworn appeals to philosophical and historical tradition.
To be sure, American sociologists were not alone in this argument, but the lines were more sharply drawn in the United States, partly because it had more sociologists than any other country and partly because these sociologists were engaging in more and more empirical investigation. At times it began to seem almost as if it were more important to argue in favor of systematic empirical investigation than to use it in one‘s own work. Thus, the distinguished Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto in his Trattato di sociologia generate (1916) argued persuasively for the development of a sociology that eschewed all value judgments and relied instead on the logico-experimental method. Yet Pareto‘s discussion of “residues” and “derivations” as motivations in action, like his famous theory of the circulation of elites, rests primarily on social data of an illustrative and anecdotal nature.
From the 1920s on, debates among American sociologists about the appropriate methodology, methods, and techniques for sociological investigation began to overshadow controversies about the state of sociological theory. There soon developed a polarization of positions and of persons. On one side the principal spokesmen were the European-trained sociologists P. A. Sorokin and Florian Znaniecki. On the other were the American-trained sociologists whose principal spokesmen were George Lundberg and Stuart Dodd, with sup-port from W. F. Ogburn (who was less vocal, though a prolific author of quantitative studies) and his student Samuel A. Stouffer.
Sorokin and Znaniecki maintained that the social sciences are cultural sciences. Sociocultural phenomena are fundamentally different from physio-chemical or biological phenomena, Sorokin argued, in that they have three major components: (1) im-material, spaceless, and timeless meanings; (2) material objects that objectify the meanings; (3) human beings who bear, use, and operate these meanings with the help of material objects (Sorokin 1943, p. 4). The cause-and-effect models of the traditional sciences do not apply to sociocultural phenomena, he maintained, because the members of a sociocultural class are bound together by cultural meanings, not by their intrinsic properties. Hence, the sociocultural sciences require a special methodology, that of logico-meaningful causality, or the “integralist method” (ibid., chapter 2). Znaniecki argued (1934, chapter 6) that the cultural sciences differ from other sciences because of the “humanistic coefficient/‘ an infusion with culturally defined values and meanings. The appropriate method of sociology, he maintained, is analytic induction. [See the biographies of Lundberg; Ogburn; and Stoufferfor discussion of their methodological positions.]
This period also saw debate among sociologists concerning some of the classic philosophical issues. Were social concepts nominal or real? Did sociology eliminate free will by adopting social determinism? Were sociologists guilty of solipsism or of an irresponsible cultural relativism? Though many sociologists never comfortably resolved these issues, in practice their position was not unlike that of Ogburn. A minority, however, advanced arguments based on phenomenology and on the concept of verstehen [see Verstehenand the biographies ofHUSSERL; Schutz].
The line that separated the major positions in the controversy over sociological method reflected not so much the issue of whether or not social data should be quantified as the choice of logical bases for determining cause-and-effect relationships among sociological variables. In the view of such critics as Sorokin, Maclver, and Robert S. Lynd, the quantitative school with its espousal of statistics (particularly methods of correlation) and of laboratory or natural experiments followed, in the view of its critics, the logic of J. S. Mill. And, in the opinion of these critics, the application of Mill‘s logic to social phenomena was an error. Thus Sorokin was not averse to the quantification of social data but to the logic implicit in certain models of quantitative analysis. To a substantial degree, Maclver raised similar doubts, maintaining that social causation, in contrast with physical and biological causation, involves the “socio-psychological nexus” (1942, chapter 14). The “quantifiers,” as they came to be called, were attacked on other grounds, such as that they were testing simple tautological hypotheses or engaging in re-search on problems that were trivial in their implications for sociological theory. Lynd‘s Knowledge for What? (1939) is an outraged cry against these and other tendencies in American social science during the 1920s and 1930s.
Sociology since World War Ii
From 1945 on, the battleground shifted some-what to arguments about the nature of operationism in sociology and the criteria for selecting analytical models in social investigation. These controversies never became as polemical as those of the prewar period. The entry of mathematical sociology on the scene, while met with skepticism by many sociologists, is hardly controversial within the discipline as a whole. Indeed, many sociologists today speak of interaction effects, for instance, in a statistical as well as a theoretical sense.
Perhaps the most important deterrent to controversy during this period was the decreasing sepa-ration between sociological theory and methodology. This was due in part to the monumental efforts of Parsons to bring sociological theory to bear upon sociological inquiry. Whether or not they accepted Parsons‘ theories, sociologists became more aware of how important theory was to their own investigations. Merton became the principal spokesman for the integration of sociological theory and empirical investigation. The new spokesmen for quantification in sociology, such as Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Louis Guttman, worked toward a closer integration of models of quantitative analysis with sociological theory. Above all, however, empirical research in sociology matured, so that an increasing number of studies derived more directly from problems in sociological theory than from immediate practical interests, and were far more sophisticated in their technical execution than the older studies had been. Certain major empirical investigations that addressed themselves to problems in sociological theory likewise exerted considerable influence in the immediate postwar period, much as the studies of Thomas and Znaniecki and those of the Chicago school under E. W. Burgess and Robert Park had done in the 1920s. The two-volume The American Soldier (Stouffer et al. 1949), the culmination of several years‘ research by social scientists of the Research Branch of the United States Army, undoubtedly stands as a major model for its time of how sociological theory could be integrated with empirical quantitative investigation and analysis. In similar fashion the Indianapolis studies of social and psychological factors in human fertility, under P. K. Whelpton and Clyde Riser (1943-1954), reoriented investigation in demography. Another very influential work of the period was The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno et al. 1950), which, with other major studies of preju-dice, signaled a shift in social psychology to empirical study of the relationship between personality and social structure, an area that had been neglected after the work of Thomas and Znaniecki. Although subsequently these studies were subjected to some negative reassessment, they undoubtedly were very influential in shaping the investigations of postwar American sociologists.
Lack of receptivity to Marxism . Throughout the 1930s and 1940s Marxism and other socialist doctrines were a major influence on European sociology. The historical materialism of Marx may even have hindered the development of an empirical sociology in Europe during this period. Why was Marx less influential in the United States? To be sure, American sociology bore the marks of acquaintance with the problems of Marxian sociology. But even the writings of Ogburn, Lynd, and, later, of C. Wright Mills, which perhaps owed a greater intellectual debt to the writings of Marx than did those of most sociologists, were not Marxian sociology; and the influence of Weber and Durkheim on the development of American sociology continued to be far greater than that of Marx.
There are a number of reasons why a Marxian sociology never developed in the United States. It could readily be argued that the ideological and political climate of the United States was hostile to such a development; certainly, Marxism never received the encouragement in the United States that fostered its growth in other countries. But that would hardly explain the lack of receptivity to Marxism among those members of the sociological profession in America who considered themselves intellectuals. Perhaps, as Mills suggested, the social origins of American sociologists precluded such interests. Yet many American sociologists of Mills‘s generation became thoroughly acquainted with Marx and Marxist ideas in their youth. Perhaps more to the point is the fact that most American sociologists since the early 1920s have been more highly committed to an empirical sociology than to and ideological or theoretical position. They agree that some of the major problems of sociology are to be found in Marx—but only some, since for them a science of sociology is one in which theory can be tested because it supplies problems that are open to empirical investigation. Within this context, Marxian sociology and the whole tradition of historical materialism seems to them somehow old-fashioned.
The rise of scientific sociology. Has sociology, then, arrived at the status of a special science? Sociologists might assert that this is in itself a problem requiring sociological investigation. But there are bases for arguing that it has indeed achieved that status in American society. Moreover, it seems reasonably clear that, at least in some areas of sociology, knowledge gained through scientific investigation is cumulative (Berelson & Steiner 1964). Likewise, it is apparent that the decline in polemics about the respective importance of sociological theory and methodology has made it possible to integrate them more closely.
Furthermore, American sociologists and social psychologists in the postwar period have successfully developed research institutes that facilitate research training and scholarly investigation. The Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University, the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, with its Survey Research Center and Research Center for Group Dynamics, and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago have all grown into major centers of sociological research and have served as models for the development of smaller centers at other universities. Although the cost of doing re-search has increased sharply, the availability of research grants has enabled the sociologist to carry on his work as scientist [see Research and Development, article on Financing Social Research].
By 1960 most graduate students in sociology in American universities were receiving financial sup-port comparable to that for students in the traditional sciences. Sociology, after a brief period of waiting, became a program division in the National Science Foundation and before long was admitted to the Behavioral Sciences Division of the National Research Council [see Behavioral Sciences]. By 1967, though membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences still awaited American sociologists, all other barriers to full professional status had been scaled.
The interpenetration of sociology with psychology in the area that has come to be known as social psychology has certainly affected the development of American sociology as a science. At the same time, psychology has so shaped American sociology that the latter‘s methods of investigation are adapted to the study of individual actors rather than of the organizational context in which their acts take place. The other major models for quantification have come from demography and statistics. They, too, have shaped the character of sociology, since they are more easily applied to the study of social aggregates than to that of the relationships among properties of organizations. Re-search investigations in the fields of comparative institutions and social organization, therefore, often display less technical sophistication than those in the interstitial fields of demography and social psychology. The core of sociology, which is social institutions and their organization, is only now developing its own methods of investigation (March 1965).
Sociology as an academic discipline
Formal university instruction in sociology leading to a doctorate was offered first in the United States. Only slowly did sociology develop as a distinct discipline within the universities of other countries. In no country other than the United States has provision been made for formal instruction in sociology in academic departments or facul-ties throughout the system of higher education. Furthermore, only in the United States has formal instruction in sociology spread to precollege curricula.
To be sure, in the nineteenth century, universi-ties outside the United States harbored instruction in sociology either through the system, once common in the universities of continental Europe, of permitting lectures by independent private scholars, or, on occasion, by creating a chair in sociology for a distinguished scholar. More often, however, a professor in economics, history, law, political economy, or philosophy offered instruction in “sociology”—though not usually by that name. Georg Simmel‘s only professorial appointment (which he was granted after 15 years as a Privatdozent) was in philosophy; those of Max Weber and Pareto, in economics. Durkheim was among the few Europeans in the nineteenth century to attain academic title as a sociologist; he was a professor of sociology and education at the University of Paris.
The United States. The first recorded instance of formal instruction in a course called sociology within the United States occurred in 1876 at Yale University, where William Graham Sumner offered such a course. However, until his death in 1910 Sumner was identified at Yale as a professor of political and social science. Luther L. Bernard (1909; 1945), Albion W. Small (1916), and Jessie Bernard (1929), in their discussions of sociological instruction in the United States, give accounts of the early courses in sociology and the beginning of academic departments. The period from 1889 to 1892 brought formal instruction in sociology to 18 colleges and universities in the United States (ibid., chart 1). But it remained for the University of Chicago, when it opened in 1893, to establish the first academic department in the United States with work leading to the doctorate in sociology.
At the outset, instruction in sociology was more often established in joint departments than in departments devoted entirely to sociology. By far the most common alliance was made with economics, with history a distant second. Where sociology was not entitled to independent or joint departmental status, it was usually taught in departments of economics, history, philosophy, political science, or general departments of social sciences.
Despite the fact that the first department of sociology at the University of Chicago was a joint department of sociology and anthropology, anthropology was not generally linked with sociology in this early period. Actually, sociology in the United States gradually added anthropology to its offerings, so that by the 1920s there were a substantial number of departments of sociology and anthropology. By 1965, however, most of these academic partnerships had been dissolved as anthropology achieved status as a separate academic discipline.
By 1910 most colleges and universities in the United States were offering courses in sociology (Bernard 1945, p. 535). The actual establishment of separate departments of sociology occurred at a much slower rate. By 1960 most American universities and colleges had a department of sociology, although only 70 of them were offering a doctorate in sociology. The number of higher-degree programs in sociology in the United States, however, is probably greater than that in all other countries combined.
Two very important conditions appear to have led to the establishment of sociology as an academic discipline in the United States to a greater extent than in any other country. First, sociology in the United States was oriented toward pragmatic as well as theoretical and philosophical interests. Although the alliances formed between sociologists and social reformers were sometimes uneasy, there remained an overriding concern in American sociology with developing an empirical science based on research into social problems. The early issues of the American Journal of Sociology, in contrast with those of L‘annee sociologique, were as much devoted to applied sociology as to theoretical or scientific sociology.
A second major factor undoubtedly was the rapid growth of mass public education in the United States following the Civil War. With the rapid expansion of the universities, beginning in 1897, there undoubtedly was less pressure on university administrations to restrict professorships to established disciplines and on professors to compete for students, of whom there were many. Indeed, while there was some antagonism from the other social sciences in American, as in European, universities, the organization of American universities into largely autonomous departments made it possible for these departments to add instruction in sociology to their other offerings.
Equally important may have been the administrative organization of American universities. There is abundant evidence that the separation of administration from direct faculty control in the American university has facilitated the introduction of new subject matter, including sociology, into the curriculum. It may be significant, too, that during the period up to 1900 at least seven American university presidents were themselves the first to offer formal course work in sociology at their universities.
Another factor that may have been significant in the development of American sociology was a con-sequence of its institutionalization within the universities. This was the use, from quite an early date, of textbooks in sociology as the mainstay of college courses in the subject. The earliest of these textbooks was An Introduction to the Study of Society, by Small and Vincent of the department of sociology at the University of Chicago (1894). This was followed in 1896 by Franklin H. Giddings‘ Principles of Sociology. These and other such works influenced the training of large numbers of under-graduate students in sociology and helped to recruit some of them for graduate training in the field. The textbook is indeed a hallmark of undergraduate education in the United States. In the case of sociology, despite the seeming diversity in approaches of authors, textbooks represent an important element in standardizing the discipline.
American sociologists have carefully documented the development of academic sociology and its growth as a science and a profession. Among the major surveys are those by Small (1916), Wirth (1948), Odum (1951), Lundberg and others (1929), Ross (1945), Bernard and Bernard (1943), and Shils (1947). There is no single work that chronicles the rise and development of sociology as an academic discipline in other parts of the world, although Twentieth Century Sociology (Gurvitch & Moore 1945) and Contemporary Sociology (Rouček 1958) provide brief overviews of the origins and development of sociology in the major countries.
Other countries . The progress of instruction in sociology was not uniform in continental Europe, England, Russia, the Orient, or Latin America. From time to time chairs or positions were added at various universities, but up to World War n the largest concentrations of appointments in academic sociology were in the United States and Germany.
England. Despite the spectacular success attained by Herbert Spencer in popularizing sociology not only in England but also in the United States, where he was a best seller (Hofstadter 1944, chapter 2), and despite the monumental research achievements of Booth and Mayhew and the pioneering comparative analyses of Hobhouse and his associates (1915), academic sociology developed very slowly in England. Perhaps one of the major reasons for this was the successful establishment of social anthropology in the British universities, especially through the work of A. R. Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski, the former de-fining the field as “comparative sociology” (MacRae [1948-1961] 1961, pp. 22-24).
The American sociologist Edward Shils (1960), in trying to account for the failure of sociology to establish itself in British universities during the first half of the twentieth century, has argued that the principal reason was the refusal of the British academic elite to raise questions about contemporary life in England. This elite, based in Oxford and Cambridge, is self-sustaining and exclusive; since its existence is founded on privilege and class prejudice, it actively discourages a sociology which would make for critical investigation of the society that nurtures it. British social anthropologists, on the other hand, had no such inhibitions about studying the “primitive” inhabitants of British colonial territories.
France. Although the precursors of sociology—Montesquieu and the Encyclopedists, the godfather of sociology Comte, and many of its early distinguished practitioners, such as Alfred Espinas and Frédéric Le Play—were French intellectuals, sociology was long distrusted in French academic circles. It remained for Durkheim to gain university status for sociology, first through a lectureship created for him at the University of Bordeaux in 1887 and then at the Sorbonne, to which he was called in 1902. Henri Peyre has suggested that the resistance to sociology in French academic circles was so intense that it probably accounts for the dogmatic fervor in Durkheim‘s writings (foreword in Durkheim [1892-1918] 1960, p. ix).
As in Britain—and, to a degree, in the United States during the first two decades of this century—academic sociology in France was closely associated with anthropology. In the United States, sociology dominated this partnership; in France, as in Eng-land, the reverse was true, and academic sociology evolved more slowly as a result. Nonetheless, Durkheim and his followers succeeded in establishing the academic credentials of certain sociological fields, the main ones of which were the sociology of education, of religion, of law, and of the economy (Gurvitch & Moore 1945). Although historical and philosophical sociology spread in this way among the several faculties of French universities, quantitative sociology has remained centered largely outside the universities in a number of institutes (most of which are, however, part of the French system of higher education). On the whole, there-fore, there is a breach between the sociology of the academy and that of the institutes.
Germany. Sociology in Germany lacked from the outset the public recognition and support it had gained in England and the United States through being associated with the name of Spencer. While sociology early became the concern of scholars who were established in chairs at major German universities, it remained a humanistic rather than a scientific discipline, and never gained widespread support even among the humanists (Konig 1958, pp. 779-781).
Yet it was Germany, more than any other country, that in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries produced sociological writers who exercised a major influence on modern sociological theory—Marx, Tonnies, Simmel, Max Weber, and Karl Mannheim. The academic connections of this group of scholars with German universities were tenuous, however, for various reasons. Marx was an itinerant intellectual whose political views made it advisable for him to live in exile most of his life; Simmel held a regular professorship in philosophy at the University of Berlin only late in life, possibly because, like Marx, he was Jewish; Weber taught at Heidelberg only sporadically, largely because of illness; Mannheim became a refugee from Nazism and ended his career at the London School of Economics. Of this distinguished group, only Tonnies spent his entire academic career at a German university, in his case the University of Kiel. Although sociologists could be found in most German universities before 1933, they were as likely to hold chairs in political economy or philosophy as in sociology. No strong center of sociological inquiry emerged within the German university system be-cause both the university traditions and organization and the nature of sociological inquiry among German sociologists tended to restrict academic sociology to a small circle composed of a professor and his assistants.
Undoubtedly the development of academic sociology in Germany suffered more from upheavals within the society than it did in other European nations. By 1933 most German universities were offering lectures and degree courses in sociology, so that a substantial number of young German sociologists had been trained by that time; almost all of them, however, fled within a few years of the rise of the Nazi government. Among those who had been major sociologists in Germany in the 1920s, only Leopold von Wiese remained in a German university throughout the Nazi period. He appears in no way to have cooperated with the Nazi regime.
Within 10 years of the defeat of the Nazi government, sociology re-established itself in the major universities of West Germany. The chairs were usually offered to sociologists who had fled during the Nazi period and who lacked strong training in quantitative sociology. With few exceptions, they have fitted rather comfortably into the philosophical and historical traditions of German sociology.
Israel Among the smaller nations of the world, nowhere does sociology flourish as it does in Israel. Its growth is virtually simultaneous with the growth of the state of Israel. One of those towering intellects who transcend disciplinary boundaries, Martin Buber, established and headed the department of sociology at the Hebrew University [see the biography of Buber].
Buber‘s leading student, Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, has developed a tradition of both theoretical studies and empirical research at the Hebrew University [see Social Institutions]. There also is a strong school of applied sociology in Israel [see Refugees, article on Adjustment and Assimilation]. The American-trained sociologist Louis Guttman is an influential member of the Israel Institute of Applied Social Research in Jerusalem. Most Israeli sociologists have close ties with government officials and leaders; sociological investigation often is linked to policy decisions. No doubt some of this close alliance between sociology and social policy in Israel is due to the small size of the country, so that intellectuals in the universities are more closely linked to their government. But Hebrew traditions contribute to the relationship.
Russia. Sociology emerged as an academic discipline in Russia with the founding of a department of social sciences at Moscow that included a chair of sociology. The department was abolished in 1924 (Kozlova & Cheboksarov 1956). Despite some empirical research by younger Russian sociologists, sociology up to this point was largely based in philosophy and history and soon became Marxist sociology. It should be noted that sociology throughout the Soviet period of Russian history has been under the direct control of the ideological branch of the Communist party. Soviet sociology defined as Marxist sociology has been widely taught both within and outside the universities, though until recently without special academic or faculty recognition (see Fischer 1964; Simirenko 1966). Up to 1966, at least, most sociologists in the Soviet Union taught and did research within faculties of philosophy and institutes (Fischer 1966, p. 127).
Japan. Sociology entered the curriculum of the Tokyo Imperial University almost as early as it entered that of any American university. Ernest Fenollosa, an American philosopher, came to the Tokyo Imperial University in 1878 and offered lectures in shakaigaku (sociology) based on the work of Herbert Spencer. A chair of sociology was established at Tokyo Imperial University in 1893 (Odaka 1950). Prior to World War n, the principal centers of academic sociology in Japan were at Tokyo and Kyoto, each of which represented a school of sociological thought. The Tokyo school was regarded as more empirical than that of Kyoto, which was regarded as formal and phenomenological (ibid., p. 404).
India. The relatively late arrival of sociology in the universities of India perhaps reflects the essentially philosophical orientation of Indian intellectuals, who were generally unreceptive to the idea of an empirical sociology. Also, there was resistance from the university system to the establishment of such a sociology; this resistance was inevitably exacerbated by the universities‘ civil service structure.
Sociology was not introduced as a course in an Indian university until 1917, when it was offered in the economics department at Calcutta University. Even today Calcutta University, with nearly 100,000 students (including those in affiliated departments), does not have an independent department of sociology (Clinard & Elder 1965, p. 582). Bombay University established the first Indian department of sociology in 1919. Almost all doctoral work in sociology in 1965 was concentrated at the universities of Bombay, Delhi, Agra, Baroda, and Lucknow, with neither Calcutta nor Madras universities offering such programs. Most Indian universities still lack honors courses leading to a sociology degree.
Central and South America. The political structure and climate of the Central and South American republics and their universities have hindered the development of sociology as an academic discipline. Nonetheless, today chairs in sociology are to be found in nearly all these republics—in facul-ties of law, philosophy, or social sciences and on occasion in schools of sociology. Though the division is by no means clear-cut, the countries of the Atlantic have been more likely to develop an academic sociology based on European, particularly Hispanic, traditions and writings, while those of the Pacific have developed a more empirical sociological tradition (Bastide 1945). Since 1945 most of the larger republics have had at least one major institute devoted primarily to sociological research. The greatest range of academic programs representing the different fields of sociology has been offered in the universities of Brazil and Mexico, although Argentina, which has the largest number of universities, experienced a sociological renaissance during the period between the Peron and the Ongania regimes.
Eastern Europe. The development of sociology in the eastern European nations was closely linked to their political independence. While there were sociologists within eastern European universities prior to 1920, there was no recognition of sociology as an academic discipline. The growth of sociology within the universities was slow until World War n, with only Poland and Hungary developing major centers of sociology; since World War n, Poland especially has produced a number of distinguished theorists and, particularly at Warsaw, empirical research in the sociology of law. In the postwar period, sociology in the east European countries was dominated until quite recently by conservative Marxist sociology, though the influence of French and American sociology was already evident in the 1960s.
Southern Europe. Among the countries of southern Europe, only Italy could claim before World War n that a sociological tradition existed in its universities. However, Italian sociology did not emerge with separate departmental status, usually being confined to faculties of law, philosophy, or economics. As in Germany, the rise of fascism created a climate that was inhospitable to academic sociology as it evolved in other countries.
Scandinavia. Despite their small size, the Scandinavian countries have witnessed probably the most rapid growth of sociology in the period since World War n, Except in Finland, there was little academic sociology in these countries before that time. Even today, however, because of the relatively small scale of Scandinavian higher education, most sociologists hold posts outside the universi-ties. Scandinavian sociology has historical roots in demography and tends to favor a positivistic, quantitative approach to social phenomena, often linked with a deep interest in social policy and legislation.
Reasons for the growth of sociology. Even a brief overview of the rise and development of sociology makes apparent that its rise and growth as an intellectual and an academic discipline depends upon social and political conditions in nation-states. This is perhaps especially true of academic sociology, which has, for the most part, experienced its greatest growth in the systems of mass public higher education that are found in modern indus-trial democracies. Academic sociology undoubtedly suffered most in countries where totalitarian governments regarded it as dangerous on ideological grounds, since most sociologists with university appointments were either compelled to resign or found it prudent to do so (many of them, of course, became refugees). This was particularly true for Germany from 1934 to 1946, the period of National Socialism; for the Soviet Union since 1924; for Japan during much of its history; and for the eastern European countries since the late 1930s. The two world wars also greatly affected the training of young sociologists and the careers of established ones in countries that were either occupied or under siege (probably the most distinguished sociologist to become a direct victim of these upheavals was Halbwachs, who died in Buchenwald in 1945).
In all countries, however, it was the structure of the system of higher education and of the universi-ties that undoubtedly played the most important role in developing academic sociology. There was strong resistance from the traditional faculties to the entrance of sociology and to any claims that it might be a science. Since in almost all countries appointments to the faculty were closely controlled by the faculties themselves, not by a separate administration, the development of academic sociology encountered considerable resistance in all but the American universities.
Furthermore, in most countries higher education was designed for an elite, not the masses, and the system did not have the resources to develop sociology on a substantial scale. Indeed, it must be admitted that a major factor in the establishment of academic sociology, particularly as a science, has been the character of the financial resources that could be allocated to it for empirical research. Such resources historically have come to universi-ties primarily through private foundations and government subsidies or grants. In countries such as England and the United States, the private foundation played an important role in the early development of sociology as an empirical science, but in recent years the role of government in supporting research has become even more important, irrespective of country. Thus sociology has become dependent upon the state for its growth as a re-search enterprise. In the countries where sociology has increasingly gained state support for research, it has grown most rapidly as a research discipline. The growth of sociology as an intellectual discipline reflects the same resource base. Rural sociology and the sociology of social problems, among other fields, grew under the impetus of the avail-ability of financial resources for research, particularly state resources [see Rural Society; Social Problems].
It should be clear that all the aforementioned conditions for the growth of sociology as an academic discipline and an empirical science were most easily satisfied within the context of American society. These conditions—free inquiry both within and without the university, mass public education, a loosely organized, decentralized university system, and large resources for the financial sup-port of research—therefore appear essential to the rise and rapid development of sociology in the ways already mentioned. Sociology is among the sciences that may become dangerous to the state and to society; the growth of such sciences as academic disciplines is therefore intimately bound up with the state of society.
Professional training of sociologists
The sociologists of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were largely scholars who had been trained in branches of knowledge other than sociology. In the German, French, and American universities they were generally products of the faculties of law, economics, political economy, and philosophy. With the establishment of academic departments or chairs of sociology in the universi-ties, the training of sociologists gradually fell to scholars or professionals who had been trained in sociology. Yet for much of its history the sociological profession has judged applicants for academic appointment or certification as sociologists less by the kind of academic training they have received than by the sociological character of their writings or research.
In no country has the professionalization of sociology moved as far as in the United States. Although the American Sociological Association still admits to membership persons who do not hold a degree in sociology, fellows or active (that is, voting) members with few exceptions must hold the Ph.D. degree in sociology.
American universities have provided the best opportunities for the rapid growth of sociology as a profession, since they are structured around academic departments that provide doctoral training. By the mid-1960s there were some seventy universities in the United States offering graduate work in sociology leading to the doctoral degree, with an annual output of over 260 such degrees. However, the distribution of Ph.D.‘S in sociology by university is highly concentrated: three universities granted about a quarter, 9 almost half, and 23 some four-fifths of all doctoral degrees conferred in sociology in the United States during the decade 1950-1960 (Sibley 1963, chapter 4).
The largest single concentration of professionally trained sociologists in 1967 was in the United States, though the numbers in all the continental European countries and in England, India, Japan, and Latin America had grown substantially since 1950. Indeed, by 1960 almost every new nation had a few sociologists. Almost two thousand sociologists assembled in 1966 at the Sixth World Congress of Sociology of the International Sociological Association, with no country accounting for more than one-tenth of those in attendance.
The United States provides the most detailed in-formation on its professional sociologists, though it is difficult to estimate their total members be-cause of hidden variation in the definition of “sociologist.” There were an estimated three thousand holders of doctor‘s degrees in sociology in the United States in 1966. In 1964, 2,703 sociologists were registered in the National Science Foundation Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel (Hopper 1966, p. 71). Active members and fellows (a majority of whom hold the doctorate in sociology) in the American Sociological Association numbered 3,626 in 1965.
Sociologists in the United States, in contrast with those in many other countries of the world, are employed primarily in colleges and universities. Of those in the National Register in 1964, 77 per cent were so employed (Hopper 1966, table 4).
The employment of sociologists outside universities is relatively recent in the United States, so that American sociology has been the sociology of the academician rather than the sociology of the administrator or reformer. In the 1960s university employment still carries far greater prestige for American sociologists than does any other form of employment, but there are indications that, as the total number of sociologists increases, this may gradually cease to be true. No comparable statistics are available about the employment of sociologists in countries other than the United States. It ap-pears, however, that, except in Canada, a substantially smaller proportion of them are employed in universities. Moreover, a growing proportion of the employment of all sociologists in England, Eu-rope, the United States, and the Soviet Union is accounted for by the civil service and by research institutes.
The extent to which sociologists are employed professionally outside of universities depends to a great extent on the development of the applied fields of sociology—for example, on whether there are sociologically trained criminologists, welfare administrators, and social planners. Unlike psychologists, sociologists have not organized their professional training around specialized clinical training programs. Within the United States, in fact, the difference in the size of the professional associations of psychologists and sociologists can nearly all be accounted for by the large number of clinical psychologists in the American Psychological Association.
Sociology in both England and the United States was long associated with the profession of social work. By 1940, however, most large sociology departments in the United States had ceased to provide any training preparatory for social work. Though there were still a few doctoral programs in “sociology and social work” at leading American universities in the late 1960s, generally speaking, there was no longer a close link between professional sociologists and professional social workers.
The growth of sociology as a scientific discipline has led, in fact, to less curricular emphasis on areas that formerly were classified as “applied” sociology. Within the United States the decline in emphasis on training applied sociologists can be attributed in large part to professional efforts to establish the status of sociology as a science, but it is also due in part to the fact that other disciplines, such as social work, now train their own practitioners.
All of this should not be allowed to obscure the fact that sociologists in most countries are deeply involved with the problems confronting their socie-ties. But here their roles are primarily those of scientific investigator and policy scientists [see Policy Sciences]. Increasingly, too, sociology has developed subfields of specialization, such as medical sociology and the sociology of education, that are related to practice in other professions.
Professional associations and journals
The recognition that sociologists gradually gained within the universities of their own countries did not necessarily rescue sociology from the insularity in which it found itself. All too often the early academic sociologists wrote quite unaware of the work of important sociologists within as well as outside their own countries. Though Durkheim went to Germany for a period, he does not seem to have encountered Simmel. The pioneer American sociologist Lester F. Ward produced much of his early work unaware even of the existence of major scholars in sociology in his own country. The truth seems to be that while most of the early sociologists belonged to learned societies or intellectual circles within their own countries, their diverse scholarly origins often gave them little contact with one another. Following the model of other scholars and scientists, however, sociologists established their own learned or scientific societies, some with over-tones of professionalism.
In a U.S. education report of 1900 on the Social Economy Section of the Paris Exposition of 1900, Ward wrote of sociology and its development in somewhat prophetic terms, though that was not his intent:
All the countries of the civilised world are contributing to the sociological movement, but the activity is greater in some than in others. It is perhaps least in England. In Germany, it has a distinctive character, with a tendency to evade the name of sociology. .. . In the United States this activity is most intense and very real and earnest. But there can be no doubt that it is in France, which was also the cradle of the science, that sociology has taken the firmest hold upon the thinking classes, and it is there that we find the largest annual output, whether we confine ourselves to the literature or include in our enumeration the practical applications of Sociology in the form of institutions, such as the Musee Social, for carrying on lines of operation calculated to educate and enlighten the people in social matters. ( 1901, p. 1454)
American and French sociologists were the first to develop learned societies and journals of sociology. They were also among those who early and consistently worked toward establishing the status of sociology as a scientific discipline and a profession. These events did not all occur at the same period. Overall, however, American sociologists moved more rapidly than their counterparts in other countries in shaping sociology as a distinct discipline, so that, within little more than sixty years of its formal inauguration, it had an established place not only within the universities but within almost all organized parts of American society.
No doubt the rapid increase in the number of sociologists in the United States made these developments more feasible there. Yet it is clear that even in the early days, when the American sociological Society had fewer than one hundred members, American sociologists took the initiative in developing means for scholarly communication and association in their discipline. In 1895, at the University of Chicago, Small established the second sociological journal in the entire world: the American Journal of Sociology. Small‘s initial editorial statement promised that “a large number of American scholars, with many representative European sociologists, will also try to express their best thoughts upon discoverable principles of societary relationships . . .” (1895, p. 13). Small not only invited original papers from an advisory board of European sociologists and their colleagues, but himself translated portions of their published writings, to avoid, as he put it, the development of a provincial science.
Small later reported that there were many who tried to dissuade him from publishing even the first issue, on the ground that there was not enough sociological writing to fill such a journal (1916, p. 786). Nonetheless, the first issue appeared in July 1895, even though there were not at that time enough articles to fill a second issue in September. In response to Small‘s pleas, Ward and Ross submitted papers; the second issue appeared on time and, with an occasional translation from the writings of European sociologists but relying mainly on American contributors, Small soon established the American Journal of Sociology as a success.
The first sociological society in the world was the Institut International de Sociologie. It formally came into being with the meeting of its first congress in Paris, in October 1894. Beginning in 1895, the Institut published the Annales de I‘lnstitut Inter-national de Sociologie, under the editorship of René Worms. The world‘s first journal of sociology, the Revue Internationale de sociologie, had appeared in 1893 under the same editorship.
The Institut International de Sociologie was an international association of sociologists that held congresses until 1960. Following World War n, there were objections to the fascist sympathies of some of the members and officers of the Institut, and to the circumstances under which the organization had continued to function during World War Ii in countries subject to the Axis powers. Not long after the founding of Unesco, a number of sociologists, including Morris Ginsberg of England, Georges Gurvitch and Georges Davy of France, and Louis Wirth of the United States, persuaded that body to call a constituent congress to found a new international organization of sociologists. Meeting in Oslo in 1948, with 24 delegates from 21 countries, the International Sociological Association (ISA) was organized, with Louis Wirth as its first president. The First World Congress of Sociology of the Isa was held in Zurich in 1949, with 124 delegates from 30 countries. By 1966, the Sixth World Congress of Sociology, at fivian, France, was attended by almost two thousand sociologists from all countries of the world where there are academic appointments in sociology, other than mainland China.
French sociologists have failed so far to establish a viable national association of their own. Nonetheless, the moving spirits in the founding of the first international organization of sociologists were French; the oldest of all sociological journals, the Revue Internationale de sociologie, is a French publication; it was a distinguished French sociologist, Émile Durkheim, who in 1898 established Uannee sociologique as a journal that for years rep-resented all that was newest and most authoritative in the field. During the 1950s, French sociologists were influential in establishing the multilingual Archives européennes de sociologie; European Journal of Sociology. In 1946, French demographers established Population, a journal that soon gained international attention in the field of population studies.
The second sociological society to be formed any-where was the Sociological Society of London, organized at a general meeting in November 1903, with James Bryce as its first president. British sociologists did not develop a national organization until 1951, when the British Sociological Association was founded. Its membership in 1961 was more than five hundred (MacRae [1948-1961] 1961, p. 25). Also in 1951 there appeared the first number of the British Journal of Sociology, but neither it nor the Sociological Review published by the University of Keele has received the international attention given the more specialized British sociological journals, Population Studies and the British Journal of Delinquency.
In December 1905, about one hundred American sociologists gathered in Baltimore to consider their dissatisfaction with the American Historical, Economic, and Political Science associations, since none of these cognate societies gave sociologists who were members much opportunity to present their work at annual sessions. They concluded the meeting by forming the American Sociological Society (now the American Sociological Association). The first meeting of the society was held in 1906, in connection with the meetings of the cog-nate societies. Ward was elected its first president and Sumner and Giddings were vice-presidents. The American Journal of Sociology became the official organ of this new society, whose officers were advisory editors. In 1936, the society severed its relationship with the Journal and established the American Sociological Review as its official journal. In the interim two other sociological journals had made their appearance: Social Forces at the University of North Carolina under the editorship of Howard Odum, and Sociology and Social Research at the University of Southern California under Emory S. Bogardus.
During the 1930s the rural sociologists severed their ties with the American Sociological Society, on the ground that it was neglecting their special interests, and formed the Rural Sociology Society, with Rural Sociology as their official journal. Those sociologists interested in social problems did like-wise in the 1950s, founding the Society for the Study of Social Problems and an official journal, Social Problems. In part to forestall further fragmentation, the American Sociological Association has since ap-proved specialized sections within it. Three additional official journals have been added, representing sectional interests: J. L. Moreno‘s journal Sociometry was acquired by the association and is now devoted solely to papers in social psychology; more recently, the association also acquired the Journal of Educational Sociology, retitled the Journal of the Sociology of Education, and the Journal of Health and Human Behavior, retitled the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
As the American Sociological Society grew, it developed in consciousness of itself as a professional association as well as a learned society. The official journal carried news of job changes and opportunities and gradually came to include an employment bulletin. Also, discussions of the problems of professionalization appeared within its covers. By the early 1950s the society had almost four thousand members (including associate and student members) and found it necessary to create the post of executive secretary, and by the early 1960s, it had a national office in Washington, D.C., headed by a sociologist. During 1966 it developed a special journal, the American Sociologist, devoted to professional matters.
The expansion of sociology in the United States included the expansion of regional, state, and even local sociological societies. Some of these established their own sociological journals or took over journals already in existence. Many American sociologists hold membership in both a regional body and the national body of sociologists. The American Sociological Association, in the course of its growth, has become a body of professionals as well as of scholars. No other national sociological association has moved so far in recognizing both professional and scholarly interests; associations of sociologists outside the United States usually limit themselves to sponsoring annual or biennial meetings devoted almost entirely to scholarly interests, and in general follow the model of the traditional scholarly or learned society rather than the more professionalized American model.
Under the leadership of Weber and his contemporaries, German sociologists founded the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Soziologie. The association was disbanded with the exodus of sociologists upon the accession to power of the National Socialist party in 1933; its last convention, which was its seventh, had been held in Berlin in 1930. Leopold von Wiese, professor of sociology at Cologne, was its president at the time of its demise and served as its first president when it was revived in 1946. It continues as the major learned society of German sociologists. There are no official journals of the association.
The major sociological journal in Germany for much of the period before 1930 was the Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik. Max Weber served for a time as editor, and practically all of his sociological writings were first published in the Archiv. From 1921 to 1934 the Kolner Vierteljahrshefte fur Soziologie was published under the editor-ship of von Wiese. This journal came forth under his editorship again in 1948 as the Kolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie; Rene Konig assumed the editorship in the early 1950s, a position that he still held in 1967.
Soviet sociology remained without any organization of sociologists until the mid-1950s, when the Soviet Sociological Association was founded. However, the first national meeting of Soviet sociologists did not take place until February 1965 (Fischer 1966, p. 128). In the same year the first Soviet sociology series, Sotsialnye issledovanüa (“Social Re-search”), appeared (see Akademüa Nauk . . . 1965). The number of Soviet sociologists is difficult to estimate, though about six hundred of them took part in the 1965 meeting.
In 1924 a nationwide sociological society was formed in Japan, with the establishment of the Shakai-Gaku (Sociological Society). Up to 1943 the official publications of the society were the Shakaigaku zasshi (“Journal of Sociology”) and Nempo seijigaku (“Annual of the Japan Sociological Society”). At the close of World War n, these two publications were combined under the title Shakaigaku kenkyu (“Sociological Research”).
The prewar membership of the Japan Sociological Society numbered around seven hundred. Because of the rapid growth of academic sociology in the postwar period, its numbers are now greater, though it is difficult to ascertain how many hold higher degrees in sociology.
There is some difficulty in estimating the number of sociologists in India. The total membership of the Indian Sociological Society in 1963 was only 268, of whom Clinard and Elder (1965, p. 582) estimate 16 per cent were foreigners. While the civil service and other institutes may employ sociologists who are not affiliated with the professional society, the total number of Indian sociologists undoubtedly is very small—in fact, there may be fewer sociologists per head of population in India than in almost any of the other nations with an established university system.
The principal Indian sociological journal is the Sociological Bulletin, founded in 1952 as the official publication of the Bombay Sociological Society. Sociological writing in India appears also in the International Journal of Comparative Sociology, published in Dharwar.
Universities in the Scandinavian countries, except for those in Finland and Denmark, gave almost no formal recognition to academic sociology before 1946. Though the scale of sociology still is small in any country of Scandinavia, there is considerable interaction among sociologists from the several countries. By 1956, they had established their own journal, entitled Acta sociologica. Most articles in this journal are published in English, though an occasional article appears in French or German.
One of the early journals to include the word “sociology” in its title was the Rivista di sociologia, which appeared in Italy in 1897. But Italian sociology, although it has produced a few distinguished figures in the twentieth century, has hardly succeeded in advancing its standing since the days of Pareto (who lived in Switzerland).
Without a doubt, the founding of sociology journals was an important factor in the early development of academic and scientific sociology. The early sociology journals were often outlets for the publications of a “school” of sociology or for those of the editor and his students. Thus L‘annee sociologique was clearly Durkheim‘s journal; Worms dominated the Revue internationale de sociologie; for a time Weber shaped the Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik; Odum and his students used Social Forces to foster regional sociology; and Moreno developed a school in Sociometry. Even the American Journal of Sociology and Sociological Papers, which at the outset were open to submission of papers from any sociologist, were influenced respectively by the personalities and interests of Albion Small and Victor Branford. While a particular school or group of individuals, or occasion-ally a leading figure, still plays a role in founding or editing a sociology journal, most such journals today, whether general or specialized, are more universalistic in their standards.
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Modern sociological thought and theory, as distinct from the purely contemplative or philosophical analysis of society, emerged in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a result of several major changes in the perception of social order.
One such change was a growing emphasis in social and political thought on the task of differentiating the civil from the political order. Civil society came to be seen as a distinct, autonomous entity no longer subsumed under the political or even the “natural” order but tending, rather (especially in later theoretical formulations), to subsume the political order as only one of its several constituent institutional spheres. The main representative of this change in emphasis was perhaps Rousseau; at any rate, his approach to social con-tract and his definition of the general will can be regarded in this light. The names of Lorenz von Stein, Tocqueville, and, in a different way, Marx were most closely related to the first phase of this trend, which was later to be developed in a more systematic and detailed way, in conjunction with other developments, by all of the major figures of sociological thought in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—Spencer, Pareto, Durkheim, Max Weber, and later Karl Mannheim.
The second major starting point of modern sociological inquiry was rooted in what may be called the “dialectical dissociation” between the transcendental order, on the one hand, and the socio-political and individual orders, on the other. It was gradually realized that the religious and moral attitudes of individuals can vary greatly, with a corresponding range of possible commitment to the transcendental and moral realms. It also became clear that religion and morality are only one determinant of individual behavior and that they, like other determinants of human behavior, develop to a large extent within social settings. Individual variations in behavior could not, therefore, be explained in terms of purely individual differences.
Further, there was a growing awareness of the improbability that any single institutional arrangement could fully epitomize the best moral order or, indeed, represent any transcendental order at all adequately. It therefore became obvious that different types of social or political regimes could not be compared or ranked according to the faithfulness with which they embodied this or that transcendental ideal.
The major representatives of these views, at least in the early stage of their development, were, of course, Hobbes, Rousseau, and (to a lesser extent) Locke. It was they who, by posing the question of the very possibility of social order, by not assuming that it was “naturally” ordained, opened up this question in modern terms, even if their specific answers were still very much tied to the older conceptions and perceptions. Even more crucial here was the later contribution of the Scottish moralists—Ferguson, Millar, and above all Adam Smith.
The third starting point of modern sociological thought was an increasing recognition of the great variety of different types of social order and of their internal changeability. History itself—the temporal dimension of human experience—was admitted to be the locus of change and variability, if not (as in some of the cases to be discussed later) their sole determinant.
The recognition of the variety of types of political order goes back, of course, at least to Aristotle, as does the search for the relation between this variety and the different types of civic attitude and moral posture that characterize the behavior of individuals. In these two respects modern sociological thought is very much in the Aristotelian tradition; however, it goes beyond this tradition in its incorporation of the first and second starting points described above. Thus, it departs from Aristotle, first, by refusing to identify the social with the political order (and, hence, by stressing the greater variety of their possible interrelations) and, second, by stressing the variety of the interrelations between moral or religious attitudes and types of social order. In this respect, as Shils has pointed out: “Sociology has partially closed the gap left by Aristotle between the Ethics and the Politics” (196la, p. 1419). Third, and probably most important, it attempts to allow or account for temporal development as one major mechanism in the change and variability of social orders.
A fourth starting point of modern sociological theory was the importance given to environmental factors as influencing or everi determining social order in general, and the variety of the types of such order in particular. Here the first major modern figures were Montesquieu and some of the Scottish moralists, especially Ferguson and Millar, then the various ethnologists and anthropologists such as Tylor, and later the members of the various evolutionary schools of the nineteenth century. The most recent important offshoot of this tradition is the large number of comparative studies made in the 1940s.
Out of these various approaches to the problem of social order there emerged a great many new intellectual trends, some of them taking the form of ideologies, others of social philosophies or theories of history. There were also more specifically sociological theories; these last, while very closely related to the others, nevertheless developed, even if intermittently and haltingly, their own characteristic set of problems. These can perhaps be formulated in the most general way as the search for the conditions and mechanisms of the continuity, disruption, and change of social order in general, and of the variety of different types of such order in particular.
Sociology and social order
The sociological approach recognized four basic focuses or components of social order: the individual, with his personal goals and interests; various social groups, such as organizations and institutions; the sphere of cultural symbols and creations; and the environmental forces within which all these components develop and which impinge on them. The sociological attitude toward the problem was characterized by its very lack of interest in searching for “natural” preconditions of social order or for any one specific type of society or polity as epitomizing the best model of moral or social order. Instead, the major focus of inquiry was shifted to analysis of the actual conditions and mechanisms of social order and its constituent components in continuity and change, both in general and with regard to different types of social order.
Precisely because of this concern with the conditions and mechanisms of social order, the problems of social disorder, disorganization, and change have become central focuses of sociological theory. The existence of social disorder, the ubiquity of internal conflicts, and the demise of sociopolitical systems have of course long been recognized as facts of life in any society; Plato and Aristotle, for instance, were deeply influenced by the turmoil of Greek political life in the fourth century B.C. But it was Hobbes who first treated social disorder as the starting point for analysis of the possibility of social order. Since Hobbes, there has evolved a characteristically sociological viewpoint in which social dis-order is seen not as prior to and, hence, different from social order, but as constituting a special constellation of elements which, in a different combination, constitute the core of social order itself. Hence, an index of advances in sociological thought and analysis can very often be found in the extent to which the phenomena of social disorder are analyzed in the same terms and concepts as those of social order. This type of analysis deepens under-standing of the conditions and mechanisms of continuity and change. Moreover, it focuses attention on the transformative propensities of social systems and sees such propensities as not determined by “external” or “random” events but, rather, as an important aspect of the phenomenon of social order. In other words, the sociological approach to social systems assumes that at least some elements of the mechanisms of social disorganization, change, and transformation can be found in all societies, while others are distributed among them in some predictable pattern.
Some basic dilemmas. Analysis of the processes of social continuity, change, and transformation has often faltered on two major stumbling blocks. One is the search for or belief in the conflictless society—an interest closely related to the ideological genesis of sociological theory. While this interest can very often lead to analysis of the patterns of conflict and disorganization in any given society, it has often tended to minimize the general applications of the insights so gained. On the other hand, many thinkers of the so-called “functional” or “structural-functional” schools have often been criticized on the grounds that they focus on the mechanisms of social order and neglect the problems of social change, although the result of this very emphasis of theirs has often been to dramatize the inevitability of disorder, even when this was not their intention.
Similarly, the search for some general and comparative analysis of social order, disorganization, and change can also very easily become wayward or blocked because of stress on the ultimateness and unbridgeability of the dichotomy between general laws or regularities and the uniqueness of specific social, cultural, and historical events. Here again, while many such analyses of various social situations as unique events can often greatly help in the development of insights about the “dynamics” of each such situation, yet these insights can easily be lost, or at least minimized, because their implicit general assumptions have not been made explicit. On the other hand, more generalized studies that do not attempt to deal with the explanation of unique constellations of different societal situations have tended to issue in empirically vacuous typologies of a scope so broad as to be self-defeating (Parsons 1965).
The progress of sociological thought has depended to no small degree on breaking through these barriers—and the breaks have often been only partial ones. Thus, for instance, the great novelty and strength of Marx‘s analysis lay not only in his recognition of the ubiquity of conflict but also, and perhaps mainly, in the possible relation between conflict and social change. The weakness of his analysis was in his assumption of the temporality of this conflict in the “class” society and of its dis-appearance in the supposedly “classless” future. Hence, he concentrated on those aspects of the conflict which he believed would lead to the conflictless society. By contrast, Simmel was content to analyze conflict as it presented itself in any type of social situation, although his view was limited by his focus on the purely “formal” aspects of social interaction.
But the two major analytical breakthroughs in this area were made by Durkheim and Weber, each of whom concentrated on the analysis of social disorganization as a possible key to deeper under-standing of social order in general, and each of whom brought a systematically comparative perspective to his analysis. Durkheim‘s preoccupation with anomie was the counterpoint of his preoccupation with social integration, especially on the level of “organic solidarity.” Similarly, Weber never ceased to be impressed by the confrontation between the institution-building and institution-destroying propensities of charisma in various societal settings.
The shift to a specifically sociological frame of reference not only involved a transition to more specific and concrete questions but also opened up the possibility of empirical investigation of various hypotheses about the conditions and mechanisms of social order. Continuous combination of these two approaches provided a base for the development of scientific sociological thought and theory.
The very formulation of propositions about social order has, of course, always necessitated the elabo-ration of what may be called the phenomenology of the basic components of social order. The latter include the orientations and activities of individuals; the characteristics and composition of groups, collectivities, institutional spheres, and major cultural objects; and the various environmental factors impinging on social life. The sociological approach is distinguished from pure contemplation or speculation by the fact that it subjects phenomenological analysis of these phenomena to empirical test. Accordingly, sociological conceptions of the basic elements of social order, as well as assumptions about the varying types and mechanisms of concrete interrelations among these elements, can be and have to be continually revised. Thus, the extension of sociological inquiry was a very important step in the development of the critical approach to the basic phenomena of human and social existence, and provided a potential focus for its continuous extension and growth (Shils 1961a; Parsons 1965).
Sociological analysis obviously is only one of the several streams in this tradition of critical appraisal of social life (Gellner 1965). But it is a very crucial component of the tradition not only because of its ability—even if a very limited one—to provide some testable knowledge about society, but also because its continual reappraisal of basic concepts helps to keep the spirit of social criticism alive in a world full of orthodoxies.
Four starting points of sociology
Each of the four basic components of social order outlined above offers a natural starting point for sociological analysis, and each has been some-what differently emphasized by the major figures in the history of sociological thought. To recapitu-late: these components are the individual, with his personality, goals, aspirations, and orientations; the various “autonomous” characteristics of social structure, such as groups and institutions; the nature and organization of the basic products of cultural activity (the realms of symbolic creativity); and environmental and biological factors.
These various starting points of sociological thought were very closely related to some of the major philosophical traditions from the eighteenth century onward, especially to the utilitarian and the idealist schools (Parsons 1965). But with the passage of time they loosened this connection and acquired some autonomy in the form of their own specific approaches, problems, and concepts. This makes it possible to treat the history of each starting point individually.
The individual. The attempts to explain the conditions, mechanisms, and varieties of social order from the vantage point of the individual can be broadly subdivided into two major subtypes. The first is the explanation of social order in terms of individual drives, habits, or goals. These explanations have ranged from simple ones stated in terms of instincts, drives, or the vulgar versions of psychoanalysis, through sophisticated explanations of social order in terms of generalized goals—whether they are those of power, love, or some “deeper” personality variables connected with various basic mechanisms of learning and cognition.
A very important variant of this approach, best exemplified by the work of Pareto, was the explanation of conditions and mechanisms of social order in terms of the distribution of various types of attitudes and personalities within a society, and of their pressures on institutional structure and its changes.
The second major variant of this approach has been in terms of the exigencies and structure of the social interaction derived from individuals‘ pursuit of their respective goals. We find this emphasis in the work of the formal school of sociology, especially that of Simmel and, to a smaller extent, von Wiese; it was also an important element in the “interactionist” approach of some of the older American sociologists, notably Ross. The analyses of Homans and Coleman, and some of the various applications to social life of game theory and of economic theory (see, for example, Friedman 1962; Downes 1957), are further developments in this tradition.
Social groups and institutions. Explanations of the conditions and mechanisms of social order in terms of some aspect of social groups and institutions (“societal” explanations) have been even more variegated in details and specifications than explanations in terms of individual goals. Broadly speaking, societal explanations can be divided into two major types. One type has emphasized the contents of social interaction, its goals or its rootedness in the basic needs of social groups and systems. This approach has usually tended to emphasize the analysis of institutional spheres, their internal organizational and structural characteristics or dynamics, and, possibly, their interrelations. It is this type of sociological explanation that has produced probably the greatest number of sociological works, both descriptive and analytical (see Sorokin 1928).
The second major type of societal explanation has been in terms of what have often been called the formal aspects of social life—a conception very close to, but not fully identical with, the structure of interindividual interaction. Three principal vari-ants of this second major type can be discerned. One of them distinguishes between different types of social interaction according to the “quality” of the mutual or common social commitment which binds the members together; it is best represented by Tonnies‘ classic distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, which was later taken up by students of primary groups.
The second variant deals mainly with the types and vicissitudes of interaction between individuals within different group structures, ranging from the two-person group, or “dyad,” up to the greater complexities of interaction in larger groups. Here we may cite the work of Simmel and the many subsequent studies of interpersonal relations and perceptions, from small groups to game theory.
The third variant, closely related to Simmers but different in its emphasis and analytical orientation, has been mostly developed by Vierkandt and von Wiese; it emphasizes what may be called the elementary formal forces or characteristics of social interaction, such as distance and cooperation.
The cultural sphere. Social order has also been explained in terms of major cultural forces or products. This approach is much more than a variant of the kind of institutional analysis that emphasizes, for instance, the importance of religious institutions; rather, it attempts to explain social order by positing autonomous, immanent laws in the sphere of cultural creativity. Social order and its variations are seen as manifestations of a “world spirit” consisting in the totality of human culture and its immanent laws, or in any one of the major spheres of cultural creativity—be it religion, art, or language—and its laws. Apart from the great idealist tradition of the nineteenth century, this approach can be seen best in the works of those anthropologists who have defined types of social order in terms of patterns or styles of culture (see, for instance, Benedict 1934; Kroeber 1901-1951). Perhaps the most interesting recent derivatives of this approach are certain developments in linguistics and some of their applications to the explanation of social phenomena, especially the work of Levi-Strauss (1958).
The environment. Of the environmental theories, the most important (if we discount simplicist biological approaches, such as racism) were the geographic-ecological approaches, starting with the simpler forms of geographical determinism. A fructifying influence here was institutional economics, as well as economic determinism in general. The environmental approach has come to full flower in the more sophisticated ecological theories that conceive social order in terms of ecosystem (Duncan 1964).
Three types of sociological explanation
From each of the four starting points of explanation of the conditions of social order there have developed, in the history of sociology, three major types of explanation. We may call them, first, the “simplicist” and/or “discrete” type; second, the “closed-system” type; and third, the “open-system” type.
The discrete approach. Discrete explanations present the activities of individuals, as well as various social and cultural arrangements, in terms of discrete, relatively disconnected traits, which are seen as coalescing in a rather haphazard way. This type of explanation may very often, although certainly not always or necessarily, be connected with what may be called a simplicist or deterministic explanation, i.e., one that attempts to explain the bases and variations of social order in terms of nonsocial, “external” forces, whether biological, ecological, or geographical.
But the analytically discrete approach to social phenomena has not been limited to such simplicist, deterministic explanations. Indeed, it has gone far beyond them, encompassing many diverse approaches and lasting as a tradition of research long after simplicist explanations were given up. This is true of many types of social survey, as well as certain areas of attitude research.
The discrete approach usually developed some emphasis on generalizations or on general laws; at the very least, it included a search for regulari-ties or patterns of individual and group behavior. But the connections that were assumed to exist between different elements of social order often were not conceived in terms of any system. Thus, the hypotheses built upon these supposed connections often were easily shattered; often, too, they degenerated into mere commonplaces, or into vague, purely classificatory typologies. The best that the discrete approach could offer by way of general explanation was to emphasize the uniqueness of this or that correlation between variables whose deeper connections were left obscure. It is also among exponents of the discrete approach that sociological “provincialism”—concentration on parochial problems, to the neglect of broader historical and comparative implications—has most tended to flourish, although, needless to say, it has also characterized many of the other approaches.
The closed-system approach. The breakthrough from the discrete to the closed-system approach has been associated historically with a growing perception of the personal, social, and cultural orders, together with the surrounding environmental forces, as systems of interrelated components. These systems are held to have at least some autonomous mechanisms of self-maintenance, and possibly mechanisms to insure change as well. But in this approach the notion that any component of social order has systemic qualities is combined with the assumption that each such component is self-sufficient—i.e., closed to the others, as far as social causation is concerned. Moreover, few of the thinkers in this tradition were able to resist the temptation to explain all the salient aspects of social order in terms of the “laws” or dynamics of one particular component, such as the economic system.
A special type of closed-system approach can be found in those authors who explain the variety and change of types of social order in terms of certain inherent global tendencies, mostly of a historical nature, which are seen as both autonomous and inevitable. It is thus that laws of social dynamics have been formulated in terms of general evolutionary theory (Comte, Spencer, and Hob-house), Hegelian dialectic as applied to economic institutions (Marx), or certain immanent characteristics of culture and of the human spirit (Croce). Whatever the particular theory, it was within the closed-system approach that the idealist tradition of the uniqueness of social and cultural entities could most easily flourish.
The open-system approach . The open-system theorists began by recognizing that although the closed-system theorists had been right in positing certain constituents of social order, they were wrong in assuming that any one element was in-variably more important than all the others. In other words, the open-system approach conceived of the elements of social order and their interrelations as variables rather than known quantities. Thus the way was opened to a far greater flexibility in empirical generalization, as well as to the possibility of bridging the gap between historical generalization, on the one hand, and the irreducible uniqueness of specific historical events, on the other.
The breakdown of closed-system theories
Progress from the discrete to the closed-system approach and from that to the open-system approach was not only a natural outcome of the internal dialectics of the various schools of contemplative sociological thought. The advancement of sociological knowledge depended first of all on the success with which concepts describing the basic constituents of social order could be operational-ized—i.e., defined in terms of actual observation and analysis. In other words, operationalization entailed the definition of these concepts in ways which could make them constituent elements of testable hypotheses about the conditions of social order—hypotheses which could be examined, however haltingly or inadequately, through some kind of empirical observation or research and which could help in the systematic accumulation of knowledge.
But an increase in the mere volume of empirical research was not in itself a sufficient condition for the progress of systematic sociological analysis (see Merton  1957). Much empirical observation, especially when it formed part of a critical appraisal of social problems, added very little to the analytic techniques available to sociologists. The least fruitful types of research were those which were based—implicitly or explicitly—on the discrete approach to social phenomena and which minimized the systemic properties of the basic phenomena or components of social order. Such research often made use of grandiose but shallow typologies.
It was mainly insofar as research became closely related to the closed-system and, later, to the open-system approaches that its impetus to analytical and theoretical progress, and to the deepening of the understanding of conditions of social order, became very great. Indeed, considerable progress could often be made within the closed-system approach alone, because of the very fact that all the components of social order, as well as many of their subdivisions, do indeed exhibit some closed-system characteristics. But the most crucial break-through in the history of sociological thought and inquiry was from the closed-system to the open-system approach. The basic analytical step in this breakthrough consisted not so much in the direct testing of the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the concepts that defined the basic components of social order, but in critical re-examination of two basic assumptions which could be found, either explicitly or implicitly, in almost all closed-system approaches. The first of these was that there exist fixed relations between the basic variables that constitute the components of any closed system. Thus, in classical Marxism, for instance, there was an assumption of fixed relations between the means of production, the relations of production, class interests, and the prevailing ideology. This did very often give rise to the elaboration of broad typologies of societies (or of cultural or personality systems) which were often seen not only as of heuristic but also as of explanatory and even predictive value. The second assumption was that the laws or relations characteristic of one “basic” component of social order (whatever this might be in a particular theory) also regulated all the other components, so that the latter were not autonomous and could not shape the variability of the “basic” component.
Because of these assumptions each of the closed-system approaches faltered when it came to ex-plain those aspects of social order in which the other components became interrelated independently of the presumably “basic” component; still less could they explain how or why the “basic” component was influenced by the others. Thus, the purely individualistic approach could not account for the way in which variations in systems of cultural symbols and of social organization do in fact influence the individual‘s commitment to transcendental value orientations and to collective goals. This was because the individualistic approach took individual goals and commitments as given, using them as the basic starting point for the explanation of individual behavior, and so accounting for the conditions of social order. Thus the features of individual behavior that were caused by collective influences, such as cultural tradition or social organization, could not be systematically treated.
The different sociological or culturological explanations could not, on the other hand, explain how the variability of individual social behavior is influenced not only by its own internal systemic properties but also by its interaction with other spheres, whether social or symbolic. Nor did they show how individual goals can greatly influence the variation of concrete social, institutional, and organizational settings and the crystallization of symbolic realms. Such explanations also overlooked the way in which the great variability of individual orientations to symbols on different levels of social organization can influence the crystallization of different types of social and cultural spheres, their continuity, and their change. Similarly, sociological closed-system approches empha-sizing one institutional sphere could not explain the possible autonomy of other institutional spheres, their internal variability and changeability, and their possible influence on the component of order presumed to be “basic”
Of special importance in this context is the confrontation between the purely societal or sociological and the purely culturological closed-system approaches. The purely culturological systems, whether they are the older idealist approach represented by Croce, the newer culture pattern approach of Benedict and others, or such contemporary derivatives of pure linguistics as the work of Levi-Strauss, are faced with the problem of explaining the social order. Neither the concrete exigencies of organized social life—the organizations and mechanisms through which social order is maintained or shaped—nor the problems and tendencies of the social organizational sphere in general can be explained wholly in terms of principles deduced from some a priori conception of the symbolic sphere. Still less can the culturological approach account for the way in which social organization may greatly influence the form actually taken by any given symbolic order, or the way in which it finds acceptance and is able to function.
The weakness that becomes apparent in the purely sociological approaches when they are con-fronted with the culturological ones, and vice versa, closely resembles the rift that developed within sociology itself between what may be called the “formal” and the “institutional” approaches. The purely formal approach could not fully explain how the organizational exigencies of social life are shaped by variation in the social content of institutional goals or of such basic societal resources as money, power, and prestige. Purely institutional analyses, on the other hand, cannot explain how different basic orientations to social interaction and to primordial attachments and collective commitments can vary autonomously within organizational and institutional settings, and can even influence the form that these settings take.
The “environmental” closed-system approach in sociology faced problems even more difficult than those faced by almost all the other major approaches. The more sophisticated environmental approaches, while admitting that there were some institutional or organizational mechanisms through which the initial impact of the environment on society was mediated, could not fully explain the extent to which the nature of this impact was determined not only by a society‘s level of technology but also by its symbolic spheres. Thus these approaches overlooked the extent to which the symbolic sphere constitutes a basic part of that environment on which a society expends its technological resources and an individual his mental energy.
Most of the other closed-system approaches, whether individualistic, societal, or culturological, tended to ignore the possibility that there might be autonomous demographic, biological, and ecological forces that impinged on the institutional structure. At most they paid some general lip service to the basic importance of such forces, but only rarely did they attempt to analyze the mechanisms through which the forces made themselves felt.
But perhaps the most crucial area in which almost all the closed-system approaches faltered was the comparative explanation of social order and the dynamics of social change. With regard to the mode and direction of change in systems of social order, some closed-system approaches tended to ignore them on the grounds that they were not amenable to any systemic explanation, but had to be accounted for in terms of the uniqueness of particular historical or ethnographic situations. Other such approaches subsumed all the various types of societies, regardless of how they had developed, under “laws” derived from various dialectical or dynamic models of the historical process. Very often this was accompanied by a Utopian search for the ultimate conflictless society and, for the most part, by neglect of the way in which the different spheres of social order could vary internally. The possibility that such variability might influence the developmental tendencies of all spheres of social order was also overlooked; it does not seem to have occurred to the closed-system theorists that there might not be any single overriding developmental trend, or that the existence of a multiplicity of possible avenues of change might allow a certain openness of historical choice (for further discussion, see Gellner 1965).
Similarly, most such closed-system theorists did not deal fully or systematically with the processes of social disorder, disorganization, and anomie, nor did they fully explore the positive contributions of these processes to social change and transformation. Social disorder was usually seen by them as deviance from the fixed relation between the sub-components of the sphere, whatever it might be, that they took as “basic.” Because of this, these various approaches usually could not analyze the way in which different types of social systems differed in their potential for internal change as well as in the conditions and processes through which change took place.
From assumptions to problems for research
The opening up of closed systems has come about through the recognition not only that the basic component of any system is itself subject to variation but also that the phenomena belonging to spheres not regarded as basic are independent components of social order.
This breakthrough involved much more than a general, vague admission of “interdependence” or “interconnection” between the different components of social order; such an admission could easily be found on the level of the “discrete” analytical approach. Rather, it involved attempts at formulating such interconnections in mutual systemic terms, in order to show how each such element of social order, while constituting a system of sorts, also constitutes a basic systemic component or referent of the other elements.
On the substantive level, this meant that analysis of the internal systemic influence and continuous feedback of these other elements was henceforth to be a crucial focus of sociological analysis. On the methodological level, it meant that the existence of some such systemic interrelation was accepted not merely as a working assumption but as a hypothesis to be tested by actual research and analysis. Earlier assumptions about the existence of fixed relations between the subcomponents of the social system now became problems to be investigated; the grandiose typological schemes that had pretended to explain so much fell into disuse.
Only a few illustrations of the crucial importance of this breakthrough in the history of sociological thought can be given here. One such illustration can be found in the work of G. H. Mead, whose importance lies in his conception of the “social” as one constituent element in personality which, while present in all personalities, may yet systematically vary among them according to both personality structure and social conditions.
Another instructive illustration can be found in the field of so-called formal sociology. If we com-pare the classificatory schema of Vierkandt or von Wiese with that of Tonnies in terms of their usefulness in opening up new lines of thought and inquiry, it is quite clear that the influence of Tonnies has been far more fruitful. The reason for this lies in the fact that although Tonnies tended to view Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft as concepts describing total structural-societal entities as well as stages of historical development, yet these same “totalistic” concepts could be transformed into the more processual ones of Vergemeinschaftung and Vergesellschaftung, as was done by Max Weber. In this way they came to designate certain basic types of individual orientation and commitment to society and social relations. The usefulness of these concepts lies in the way in which, while always having some social structural implications, they do not exclude consideration of other aspects or elements of social life, such as goals and institutional contents. In other words, while originally closed-system concepts, they can be adapted for use with the open-system approach. In this way they have given rise to the whole gamut of pri-mary group research and, more recently, to redefinition of the nature of attachment to primordial relations and symbols (Shils 1957).
The case of Marxism (the classic Marxist system, not the popularized version of it) offers a good example of the breakup of a sophisticated closed system. In this system, the interrelations between its basic components—“relations of production,” class struggle, and historical change—were treated as constants, and the other components of social order, such as individual goals and cultural symbols, were subsumed under them. The breakthrough from this system—as effected, for instance, by Weber—was achieved not by negation of the concepts but, rather, by giving up the assumption of the existence of a fixed relation between them either over time or at any one time. Thus the relations were transformed from assumptions into problems for research.
It was only after this transformation had taken place that the concepts themselves became subject to revision and that new questions were formulated about the mechanisms and conditions of the relations between them. In this way, a newer, deeper perception of the basic phenomenology of social order was developed, and the task of sociology it-self was greatly clarified. From this point of view Weber‘s comparative analysis of religion in general and his thesis of the Protestant ethic in particular are of special importance. The significance of the latter lies not so much in its general recognition of the role of nonmaterial, cultural factors but, rather, in its attempt to formulate with some degree of precision the mechanisms through which such factors can enter into institutional change. Whatever the correctness of the details of Weber‘s thesis, we have here an attempt to explain a whole process of sociocultural transformation through a change in the type of relations between personal and collective identities, on the one hand, and between these identities and various institutional and organizational activities, on the other. This alone represents a decisive advance in the history of sociological thought.
A similar analysis could be undertaken to demonstrate the historical importance of the theory of action, as developed by Parsons and others. Here, too, concepts like individual interests, norms and values, symbols, groups and institutions, which had existed separately in closed systems, were related to one another. In this way Parsons and his fol-lowers have been able to stress the basic structural cores of these concepts, their continuous systemic interconnections, the potential variability of these interconnections, and, finally, the importance of investigating the mechanisms through which such interconnections may be maintained.
Some problems of open-system analysis
The breakthrough to the open-system approach put sociological theory in an excellent position from which to advance, but did not insure that it woud do so. This was because sociological theory had yet to solve many of the methodological problems inherent in systems analysis.
Systems that were open, in the sense that they recognized the interrelations that existed between the basic components of social order in the basic systems, could as yet concentrate methodologically on only one of these components (Gluckman 1965). Thus, it was often assumed that fixed relations existed between the basic components of such systems. In this way, emphasis was placed upon the supposed possibility of generalizing from the analysis of unique situations. From this it can be seen that the critical advance which took place when the assumption of fixed relations between components of social order was abandoned was not confined to the transition from closed to open systems, but was also to be found in some of the more sophisticated open-system approaches.
The social-anthropological model. One very instructive example of a sophisticated open-system approach is British social anthropology (see Eisenstadt 1961). As is well known, most social-anthropological studies combine the analysis of social behavior, institutional norms, groups, and societies in one basic model, and then attempt to show how these aspects of social order are always very closely interrelated. Indeed, it is because they contribute both to each other and to the society as a whole that they are often said to have “functions” and to stand in “functional relations” to each other.
The maintenance of such interrelations cannot, of course, be conceived of without assuming the operation of certain societal mechanisms. The social-anthropological model of society therefore made provision for several such mechanisms and contained, if only implicitly, several additional assumptions about their nature. The first such mechanism was the interaction of the same people or groups in different situations, an interaction that made their mutual commitments in one situation or group greatly influence their behavior in others. The second was the relation between “culture” (or, rather, values) and ritual symbols, on the one hand, and social relations, on the other. The third was the continuous interrelation, in most groups and situations in primitive societies, between different types of social activities. Ritual, jural, contractual, and political activities were seen as interwoven in most of the situations and groups encountered in these primitive societies. These three mechanisms have been found by the social anthropologists to be operative—even if in varying degrees—in most parts of the primitive societies studied by them. Presumably, the same mechanisms also insure close interrelations between the major aspects of social order in these societies.
This model of the social system, which has greatly contributed to the development of systematic anthropology and which still guides much of the work done by anthropologists, faced several crucial problems when it was applied to the analysis of so-called complex societies, whether historical or modern. Studies of such societies have indeed shown that there exist specific areas in which some of the mechanisms emphasized in this model do in fact shape the patterns of interrelations between individual behavior, social norms, and group activi-ties. However, all these studies have also faced problems that cannot be dealt with within the limits of this model. Among these problems are, first, the ways in which behavior is regulated in situations in which individuals can choose between different roles and groups and in which various contradictory and discrete institutional forces impinge on the individuals participating in these groups. Second, this model could not explain the ways in which many patterns of behavior and activities of individuals are not entirely tied to concrete groups or embedded in them but are dispersed between various discrete and seemingly unconnected situations. Third, the model did not explain how new patterns of behavior, new groups, and new situations are continuously emerging, crystallizing, and impinging on different individuals and making different, often conflicting, demands on them. Fourth, the model did not explain the ways in which different types of social activities—contractual, juridical, political, ritual, and so on—are organized in different “orders” within a society, and how all these orders impinge on and regulate various situations, groups, and patterns of behavior within the society. Fifth, the model did not explain how, if at all, many conflicts between different groups in complex society are regulated or can be said simply to contribute to the continuous integration of the ongoing society. In the more complex societies it was, of course, even more difficult to delineate the exact nature of each function that such groups perform in relation to the basic institutions.
But this inability of the social-anthropological model to explain these various problems did not necessarily mean the over-all rejection of its concepts and approach. It did, however, necessitate giving up the assumption of relatively fixed relations between the different components of social order—norms, individual behavior, “functional” contributions to society, and the various societal mechanisms specified above. Instead, these fixed relations were transformed from assumptions into problems for research. Once this happened, it en-tailed, on the empirical side, limiting the application of the social-anthropological model to select parts or aspects of complex societies. On the analytical side, it entailed searching for the conditions under which various types of relations between these diverse aspects of social order are indeed maintained, for the mechanisms that maintain these relations, and for new mechanisms (and adequate concepts) with reference to which the problems of social order in more complex societies could more adequately be explained.
Analysis of roles and institutions. Another illustration of this kind of analytical development may be taken from the way in which the concepts of role and of institutions have evolved in recent years. For a time, roles were designated as the basic units of social behavior of individuals. Indeed, it was one of the major contributions of the structural—functional school to emphasize the great importance and the dynamic quality of roles as perhaps the most important meeting points between individual behavior and societal functions. But this concept of role was usually treated as a unified one, representing a functionally indivisible unit. Recent analysis, however, has shown that roles have several components, such as their goals, their norms, and their relations to other roles (Goode 1960). Although certain role components do in fact tend to go together, they may also vary independently and should be studied from this viewpoint. The variations are not, of course, infinite. But each of these components is often subject to independent influences, and thus may constitute a focus of change, affecting the role as a whole in different ways and to varying degrees. Hence, the concept of role should not be taken to mean a pattern of behavior or be treated as a normative definition of behavior that is given—i.e., fixed in the institutional structure of society so that the individual must adjust himself to it through the process of socialization and through interaction with other people. Rather, the very formation of any specific role—the articulation of its goals and the crystallization of its various components—is an outcome of various social forces or mechanisms that create, out of the potential of various contents, demands, and institutional and personal needs existing in the given society, the actual specific crystallizations of the different role components. Consequently, different components of any role can profitably be studied with an eye to the degree to which each of them has become institutionalized. Comparisons between role components can then be made in this respect.
Similarly, the crystallization of different roles may, in turn, influence the development of a society‘s institutional structure. In all societies, even the most stable ones, roles are continually crystallizing and being created. Even if, in some cases, the basic definition of a role is more or less constant over long periods of time, the relative emphasis on its different components will vary according to the different situations and forces that impinge on it. Thus the role map of a given society, instead of being treated as if it were completely fixed and given, has to be perceived as being continuously recrystallized.
Similarly, as this approach implies, the performance of roles should not be viewed as a static process in which individuals either assume or do not assume certain attributes in order to realize certain types of fixed expectations and norms set by “society.” Rather, it should be conceived of as a differentiated process, in which the individual‘s aspirations interplay with his perceptions in a variety of situations and emphasize different aspects of normatively regulated behavior in each of them. Indeed, it is precisely the encounter between individuals and supposedly given roles that often creates the possibility of role innovation (Eisenstadtetal. 1963).
A similar and closely related analysis can be applied to the concept of institutions. Here, the crucial transition was from defining institutions as given, fixed entities to viewing them as focuses of processes of institutionalization [see Social Institutions, article on The Concept].
An analysis of some of the more recent criticisms of the structural-functional school, especially with regard to its supposed neglect of problems of change, will show that most of these criticisms—insofar as they are not couched in purely ideological terms or concerned with purely ideological problems—are not directed against the concepts developed in this approach or against the assumption of the crucial importance of systemic interrelations between the basic components of social order. Rather, they are directed against the alleged assumption of certain constant interrelations between such components as ultimate values, consensus, and roles [see Functional Analysis, article on Varieties of Functional Analysis; Social Structure, article on Social Structural Analysis].
The principal substantive development attendant on the major conceptual breakthroughs—whether from closed-system to open-system approaches or from less to more sophisticated versions of the latter—has always been a growing awareness that the conditions and mechanisms of social order de-pend on the dynamics of interaction among its major components. This development has entailed, first, a continuous shift of emphasis to the processes of role formation and institutionalization as meeting points between the major components of social order. Second, it has involved more intensive analysis of the mechanisms through which interaction between the social and cultural subsystems takes place. Third, it has highlighted the connections between the processes of social disorganization and anomie, and the processes of institution building and transformation of personality.
Nor did these conceptual breakthroughs entail ceasing to emphasize the systemic qualities of the different components of social order. On the contrary, even greater stress was placed upon the fact that each such component has certain basic “needs,” or structural prerequisites, as well as special mechanisms through which these prerequi-sites are maintained or changed. It was also realized that relations between the components are not purely random and may not vary indiscriminately. All of these insights were essentially legacies from the closed-system approach.
The special contributions of the open-system approach was that it exposed the great variety of systemic components and subcomponents of social order, each with its basic systemic problems and its openness to penetration by any of the other components and subcomponents. But the fact that it was open to penetration in this way did not imply that different types of social institutions, organizations, or cultural systems could covary without limit. Rather, it suggested a shift in the focus of analysis to such problems as the extent to which any given type of family system sets limits to the development of other types of social institutions, personality types, or symbolic systems. Thus there developed a more generalized concern with the mechanisms through which such relations between different subsystems are maintained or transformed [see Social Institutions, article on Comparative Study]. Such breakthroughs made possible the testing of various hypotheses at any given level of conceptual formulation. They also led to the redefinition and what may be called the decom-position of the basic concepts of sociological inquiry. The result has been a continuous increase in sophistication concerning the basic phenomena of social order and the different ways in which they are related to each other.
These same developments have made it easier to overcome the dilemma posed by the apparent irreconcilability of the analysis of general trends with that of unique events. Thus it has become obvious to practitioners of the open-system approach that it is not necessary to deny the uniqueness of many structures or the worthwhileness of the application of sociological analysis to the study of concrete single cases. Rather, such analysis has come to be seen as complementary to and dependent on analysis of general systemic tendencies. In fact, it appears that insofar as the characteristics unique to any type of social order can be analyzed in broad comparative terms, the possibility of understanding these characteristics is maximized [see also Social Institutions, article on Comparative Study; for an opposing viewpoint, see History, article on The Philosophy of History].
Sociological theory and analysis today
Sociological theory, considered as a body of examinable, potentially testable propositions capable of shedding light on the nature of social order in all its variety and complexity, has reached its present state mainly through the rather intermit-tent analytical breakthroughs outlined above. The uneven progress of the different schools of sociology in the past indicates that the future development of sociological theory, in which the past forms only a chapter, will be equally checkered and unpredictable.
Progress in the accumulation of systematic knowledge has, of course, always been influenced by many diverse factors. The specific rates of progress of the different branches of sociological research have greatly depended on various external factors. Among these should be listed diverse ideo-logical impetuses, the development of public interest in selected fields, certain types of institutional development involving the academic community (for instance, the growth of relations between academic and semiacademic research institutions), and the differential availability of research funds. In addition, the development of research methodology has played a large part in determining the amount of attention given to particular lines of research. This has been especially true of many microsociological studies.
The picture that sociological knowledge presents today is very uneven, not only in the relative development of different areas of research but also in the degree to which each of these areas is oriented toward the basic problems that first provided the impetus of sociological thought. The strongest developments in sociological thought and research have been in those fields that use as their point of departure some basic component of social order itself. Such points of departure can be found in the manifold studies of individual behavior, attitudes, and personality dynamics; in descriptive accounts of regularities in social behavior and group structure; and in typological studies of collectivities. They also underlie some studies of social institutions and a few studies of the major types of cultural and symbolic subsystems. Within each of these fields there has developed not only a body of concrete and systematic studies about the diverse phenomena encompassed by the field but also a continually, if intermittently, growing perception of how intricate are the systemic properties of these phenomena, and how varied their interrelations. Even their possible orientation to other components of social order began to be considered.
Admittedly, these developments did not affect all fields to the same extent. Thus, within the psychological, or “individualistic,” framework the most important instances of such development are the studies of socialization, culture and personality, and, to some extent, those of communication and reference group behavior. Within the field of organizational and group structure the greatest advances are in the analysis of different types of organization in their relationship to broader institutional structure. Other advances took place in the study of primary groups—their location in institutional structure and their role in personality development—and in studies of the relation between individual interaction and the emergence of group structure (Thibaut & Kelley 1959; Coleman 1964). Within the field of institutional analysis, the most successful analyses of internal systemic properties are to be found in family and kinship studies, at least for those societies where kinship relations are dominant. For more complex societies such studies have been less successful in analyzing the relations between the kinship system and other institutional spheres.
Economic structure has, on the whole, been more extensively studied at the macrosocietal level and in connection with the microanalysis of economic organizations. The relation of economic structure to patterns of economic behavior has been comparatively neglected. In political analysis, the two major types of empirical studies—those of the macroanalysis of political structure, on the one hand, and of political behavior and socialization, on the other—have both been intensively pursued, but, until recently, in different directions. In the field of social stratification, the separateness of these two directions of research has been even more pronounced. Analyses of prestige and of the power system, as well as of broad developmental trends in the distribution of prestige and power, have only lately begun to be connected with studies of individual perception of status position and group membership, and with studies of how various processes of exchange influence crystallization of the broader institutional structure. Even in areas that, like communication or reference group behavior, have been natural connecting points between these two directions of research, understanding of what the existing empirical studies imply about the processes of institutionalization has only just begun [see Social Institutions, article on The Concept].
Perhaps the weakest connections between the different types of studies are to be found in the area of cultural symbols. Here most anthropological and philosophical approaches have proceeded in isolation from other disciplines and have been relatively unaware of the part played by the exigencies of systemic organization in the crystallization of the symbolic fields. Similarly, study of the full implications of the interrelation between the symbolic realms and individual orientation is, apart from the existing “culture and personality” studies, in only a rudimentary stage. This weakness in the sociological analysis of the cultural realm can also be seen in the neglect of various crucial aspects of individual cultural orientation. For instance, the study of the different orientations of individuals to primordial images, and of the interweaving of these images with varied organizational settings, is in its infancy (Shils 1957). Other basic categories of interrelation between the symbolic realm and individual orientations—as, for instance, the category of play or that of orientation to a temporal system—have only begun to be systematically explored in terms of their implications for social order [see Time; see also Caillois 1958].
Two other weak or neglected areas in the present state of sociological knowledge should also be mentioned. One is the analysis of change in social systems—the mechanisms of transition from one type of society to another, and the transformative capacities of societies and groups. The other such area has been the one that lies between demography, population genetics, and ecology, on the one hand, and institutional and cultural analysis, on the other. While all these disciplines have made great strides within their own spheres, their inter-connection with the processes of institutionalization has as yet received very little systematic examination, although claims have often been made on behalf of the independence of this area of analysis. We therefore know relatively little about the mechanisms through which this interconnection is effected.
But in spite of all the unevenness in the development of the various areas of sociological research, a growing analytical convergence of these areas has lately been discerned. The major analytical traditions that have been guiding this convergence are (1) structural-functional analysis, from Pareto, Durkheim, and Weber to such contemporary figures as Parsons, Shils, and Merton; (2) game theory and exchange theory; (3) philosophical and anthropological study of symbolism. It is in areas affected by these trends that the major advances and breakthroughs can be discerned. One such breakthrough is taking place through a convergence of structuralist anthropology and certain basic trends in social psychology. Here the possibility of a systemic rapprochement between the structural analysis of symbolic values (Levi-Strauss 1958), the analysis of how universal concepts such as space and physical causation are acquired by young children (Piaget 1950), and the new sociolinguistic analysis (Bernstein 1965; Gumperz & Hymes 1964) is a most significant development.
Also important is Shils‘s treatment of the concepts of center and charisma (1961b; 1965). By showing that charismatic quality refers to the ability to order various dimensions of human experience, that it evinces a tendency to become closely interwoven with the center of society, and that the need for such ordering can be found distributed in varying degrees among different individuals and different organizations, Shils has added a new dimension to our conception of the interrelation between cultural, social, and personality systems. He has also helped to distinguish between the universal prerequisites for the functioning of any society or system of social organization and those dimensions of symbolic meaning which enable a society to create for itself new and more complex systemic orientations.
Similar exploration of the connection of the historical dimension of social change with the systemic propensities of societies to internal change and transformation has resulted from the increase in comparative studies and in studies of social change and modernization. Work of this kind may eventually enable sociologists to go beyond generalities and undertake more systematic analysis of the transformative and degenerative properties of social systems. Such studies may also contribute to the understanding of an even more problematic and difficult area, interest in which has been reviving—the combination of studies of human development with environmental analysis. The focal point of this interest has been the problem of evolution. Here the difficulties facing social scientists are even greater. Indeed, they have only just begun to explore the interaction of different kinds of environments, institutions, and cultural symbols, and to accumulate systematic data on the building up of the biological potential of human populations. But even this beginning seems to be significant.
Shmuel N. Eisenstadt
[Directly related are the entriesEvolution; Interaction; Role; Social Institutions; Social Structure; Society. Other relevant material may be found inAnthropology, article on Social Anthropology; Charisma; Ecology, article on Human Ecology; Economy and Society; Functional Analysis; History; Linguistics; ReferenceGroups; Social Control; and in the biographies ofAristotle; Benedict; Comte; Croce; Durkheim; Ferguson; Hobbes; Hobhouse; Locke; Mannheim; Marx; Mead; Millar; Montesquieu; Pareto; Plato; Ross; Rousseau; Simmel; Smith, Adam; Spencer; Stein; Tocqueville; TÖnnies; Tylor; Weber, Max; Wiese]
Benedict, Ruth (1934) 1959 Patterns of Culture. 2d ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. → A paperback edition was published in 1961.
Bernstein, Basil 1965 A Socio-linguistic Approach to Social Learning. Pages 144-168 in Penguin Survey of the Social Sciences. Edited by Julius Gould. Baltimore: Penguin.
Caillois, Roger (1958) 1961 Man, Play and Games. New York: Free Press. → First published as Les jeux et les hommes.
Coleman, James S. 1964 Collective Decisions. Sociological Inquiry 34:166-181.
Downs, Anthony 1957 An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper.
Duncan, Otis Dudley (1964) 1966 Social Organization and the Ecosystem. Pages 36-82 in Robert E. L. Faris (editor), Handbook of Modern Sociology. Chicago: Rand McNally.
Eisenstadt, Shmuel N. 1961 Anthropological Studies of Complex Societies. Current Anthropology 2:201-222.
Eisenstadt, Shmuel N.; Weintraub, Dov; and Toren, Nina 1963 Analysis of Processes of Role-change: A Proposed Conceptual Framework. Unpublished manuscript, Hebrew Univ., Department of Sociology.
Friedman, Milton 1962 Capitalism and Freedom. Univ. of Chicago Press.
Gellner, Ernst 1965 Thought and Change. Univ. of Chicago Press.
Gluckmann, Max (editor) 1965 Closed Systems and Open Minds: The Limits of Naivety in Social Anthropology. Chicago: Aldine.
Goode, William J. 1960 A Theory of Role Strain. American Sociological Review 25:483-496.
Gumperz, John J.; and Hymes, Dell H. (editors) 1964 The Ethnography of Communication. American Anthropologist New Series 66, no. 6, part 2.
Kroeber, A. L. (1901-1951) 1952 The Nature of Culture. Univ. of Chicago Press.
LÉvi-Strauss, Claude (1958) 1963 Structural Anthropology. New York: Basic Books. → First published in French. See especially the chapters on myth and religion, pages 167-245.
Merton, Robert K. (1949) 1957 Social Theory and Social Structure. Rev. & enl. ed. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press.
Parsons, Talcott 1965 Unity and Diversity in the Modern Intellectual Disciplines: The Role of the Social Sciences. Daedalus 94:39-65.
Parsons, Talcott et al. (editors) (1961) 1965 Theories of Society: Foundations of Modern Sociological Theory. New York: Free Press.
Piaget, Jean 1950 Introduction à l‘épistémologie géné-tique. 3 vols. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Shils, Edward 1957 Primordial, Personal, Sacred and Civil Ties. British Journal of Sociology 8, no. 2:130-145.
Shils, Edward (1961a) 1965 [Epilogue] The Calling of Sociology. Pages 1405-1448 in Talcott Parsons et al. (editors), Theories of Society: Foundations of Modern Sociological Theory. New York: Free Press.
Shils, Edward 1961k Centre and Periphery. Pages 117-130 in The Logic of Personal Knowledge: Essays Presented to Michael Polanyi. London: Routledge; New York: Free Press.
Shils, Edward 1965 Charisma, Order and Status. American Sociological Review 30:199-213.
Sorokin, Pitirim A. 1928 Contemporary Sociological Theories. New York: Harper. → A paperback edition was published in 1964 as Contemporary Sociological Theories Through the First Quarter of the Twentieth Century.
Thibaut, John W.; and Kelley, Harold H. 1959 The Social Psychology of Groups. New York: Wiley.
Beginings of research in England
The idea that social topics could be subjected to quantitative analysis first acquired prominence in England in the latter half of the seventeenth century. The influence of Francis Bacon had already created a favorable intellectual climate; now a political motive was added by the growing currency of the notions that good government should be based on precise information and that population was a primary source of national power and wealth. Moreover, the rise of the life insurance business and the general expansion of commerce and trade called for a rational and calculable foundation in statistical fact. Curiosity and fear also played a part in the interest in vital statistics: people wanted to know how many had died in the Great Plague of 1665 and other epidemics and what effect this would have on population growth. Finally, the size of London, compared with that of Paris and Amsterdam, became a matter for English national pride, and there was a demand for statistics illustrating the city‘s growth.
Political arithmetic. The English political arithmeticians, as they called themselves, never formed an organized school. Single individuals of varied backgrounds pursued political arithmetic as an avocation. They were compelled to work with existing administrative records, which were incomplete, of varying quality, and scattered in parishes all over the country. John Graunt, a London draper who lived from 1620 to 1674, was the first, in his Natural and Political Observations Made Upon the Bills of Mortality (1662), to make a systematic analysis of the London parish records on christenings and deaths. In order to assess the validity and completeness of the bills of mortality, he described in great detail how they were recorded and assem-bled. Graunt drew attention to the fact that the mortality rate was higher in London than in the rest of the country; he estimated, by several independent methods, the total population of the city; he noted the rapid recovery of the London population after the Great Plague; and he estimated the extent of migration into the city. Graunt‘s friend William Petty, who lived from 1623 to 1687, coined the term “political arithmetic” he was in turn seaman, physician, professor of anatomy, inventor, and land surveyor in Ireland, as well as being one of the founders of the Royal Society. During the period 1671-1676 he wrote The Political Anatomy of Ireland, which was based on his personal observations and experiences and in which he formulated a general theory of government founded on concrete empirical knowledge. Edmund Halley, the astronomer, published the first life tables (1693), based on mortality records of the city of Breslau in Silesia, which had been forwarded to the Royal Society by a number of intermediaries (including Leibniz). Their advantage over Graunt‘s London bills was that the age of death was recorded. Assuming a stable population and a constant rate of birth, Halley calculated the chances of surviving to any given age. The actuarial techniques needed for life insurance were thereafter slowly perfected, calculations being based on the information accumulated by the insurance companies.
Political arithmetic also had a hand in reshaping the descriptive “state-of-the-kingdom” literature: numerical data were added to geographical, bio-graphical, and historical descriptions. Gregory King, who lived from 1648 to 1712, in his “Natural and Political Observations and Conclusions Upon the State and Condition of England” (1696), divided the entire population into 24 strata, from lords spiritual and temporal to vagrants, and estimated not only the total number of families but also the average family income and the share of the total national wealth that each family enjoyed.
The rise of demography. Demography as a science grew out of political arithmetic. The notion became accepted that regularities in human events, similar to the laws of natural science, existed; initially, these regularities were taken to be a demonstration of divine order and benevolence, but progressively the concept of regularity was secularized. In his “Argument for Divine Providence” (1710), based on the observed number of christenings of infants of each sex in London from 1629 to 1710, John Arbuthnott argued, from the exact balance that he found maintained between the numbers of males and females, that polygamy was contrary to the law of nature and justice. Noting that in every year the number of male births slightly exceeded that of female births, he showed, by analogy with a fair-coin-tossing experiment, that in a large number of binomial trials both an extreme unbalance in the sex ratio and an even split between the sexes were very improbable events. The Reverend William Derham‘s Physico-theology: Or, a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God From His Works of Creation (1713), another demographic classic, ran through 13 English editions and one each in French, German, and Swedish.
Interaction of English and Continental work. The works of Derham and the other English political arithmeticians were a major influence upon the physician-pastor Johann Peter Süssmilch, whose Die göttliche Ordnung in den Veränderungen des menschlichen Geschlechts (1741) was the most complete demographic compendium of the time. In Süssmilch‘s work, in particular in the second, enlarged edition of Die gottliche Ordnung, published in 1761, the field of demography was clearly defined for the first time. Süssmilch systematically introduced the concepts of fertility, mortality, and nuptiality (marriage rates) and assessed their effects upon population size.
Süssmilch in turn provided much information and inspiration for Thomas Malthus when the latter wrote his influential Essay on Population (1798), in which the notion of an inexorable law of population growth was linked with the problems of pauperism and food supply. But in the absence of censuses, demography and vital statistics in Eng-land remained on a shaky empirical foundation. At the end of the eighteenth century the most sophisticated analytic and empirical work on population was being carried on in France. Indeed, by that date the promise of political arithmetic as a major instrument of government and as a foundation for an empirical social science had not been fulfilled. The new school of political economists, in particular Adam Smith, was highly skeptical of the methods and data of the political arithmeticians, as well as of their protectionist and state-interventionist economic policies. In over-all terms, political arithmetic split into a number of specialized branches and did not join the mainstream of thought on social theory and on social problems.
Beginnings of social research in France
The social research conducted in France at the time when political arithmetic was flourishing in England contrasted with it in three respects: because of monarchical centralization, most inquiries were conceived and carried out by the administration; the results were kept secret; and the data related to the kingdom as a whole.
Colbert‘s inquiries. The search for qualitative or numerical information on French society far antedates Colbert (who was controller general of finances from 1661 until his death in 1683), but it was he who was largely responsible for systematizing the previously scattered efforts in this field. The general inquiries that he instituted consisted of descriptions of the territorial units governed by intendants. Two trial runs (one in Alsace in 1657, the other throughout Alsace, Lorraine, and Troisfiveches in 1663) preceded the 1664 inquiry. A uniform circular (Esmonin 1956) asked the intend-ants for information about the existing maps of the district, ecclesiastical matters (especially the “credit and influence” of the bishops), the military government and the nobility, the administration of justice, and the condition of the district‘s finances and economic life.
The first special inquiry ordered by Colbert was one into manufactures, in 1665. He also concerned himself with inquiries into the state of the population: in 1667 he issued an ordinance on the keeping of parish registers, and three years later, under the influence of Graunt, he instituted publication of yearly data on births, marriages, and deaths.
Vauban‘s inquiries . Sébastien le Prestre, marquis de Vauban, undertook several far-reaching inquiries, with the aid of the military authorities. Vauban was commissioner general of fortifications from 1677 until he was forced to retire in disgrace thirty years later. He set out to describe territorial units: his papers contain the Agenda pour faire l‘instruction du dénombrement des peuples et la description des provinces (possibly dating from 1685), as well as 24 memoirs describing provinces, elections, or cities, including the celebrated “Description de l‘élection de Vezelay,” written in 1686. In his Méthode générale et facile pour faire le dénombrement des peuples, written in 1686 (see 1707), Vauban recommended taking the census by counting individuals rather than households. And indeed, between 1682 and 1701 a number of censuses were taken in the manner that Vauban recommended. In subsequent censuses, however, the administration returned to the old method. [For Vauban‘s other inquiries, see Leisure.]
The Grande Enqueue. An impressive series of 32 memoirs, describing each of the administrative districts of France, was begun in 1697. The survey was made by the intendants, at the instigation of the duke of Beauvilliers, governor of Louis xiv‘s grandson, the duke of Burgundy. Known as the Grande Enquete, it was compiled for the purpose of demonstrating to the duke of Burgundy the undesirable consequences of Louis xiv‘s policy of war and excessive taxation (Esmonin 1954; 1956). Each memoir was based on a questionnaire sent to one of the district intendants and included a description of the territory and of “the nature of the peoples,” a census of the population, the number and reputation of the clergy and nobles, and the answers to 15 questions on the district‘s economic life. Many copies were made for high dignitaries; the intendants also made use of the original memoir for various publications (Gille 1964). It is estimated that about 900 manuscripts relate to this vast inquiry, which served as a guide for the intendants until a new one was directed by Bertin in 1762. L‘état de la France, by Henri de Boulainvilliers (1727), sheds light on the contents of the Grande Enquête and contains some savage criticisms.
Research in France in the later eighteenth century
Administrative inquiries were resumed in 1724, shortly after the death of the regent and the end of the financial crisis into which the collapse of “Law‘s system” in 1720 had plunged the country. With a few exceptions these inquiries were nation-wide. However, the general descriptions favored by Colbert and his followers now tended to be replaced by the study of specific problems, such as manufactures, public administration, beggary, and wages. In 1730 Orry, a worthy successor to Colbert, instituted a general economic inquiry, and in 1745 an-other of his inquiries, on the “resources of the people” and on militia recruiting, led to a census (authentic according to Dainville 1952; fictitious according to Gille 1964). In addition, the intend-ants were instructed to spread rumors concerning increases in town dues and the raising of a militia and then to make conscientious reports (which have survived) of the citizens‘ reactions. Great pains were taken to make the answers comparable and to involve in the inquiry scholars from outside the government. A member of the French Academy was entrusted with drawing up the final document.
Scholars and learned societies. About 1750 the French government yielded its place as the leading exponent of social research to learned societies and private individuals, who were to dominate the field until 1804, when Napoleon, then first consul, had himself proclaimed emperor.
At the same time that political arithmetic was losing its impetus in England, it began to take hold in France, where its exponents confined themselves to population studies, thereby avoiding criticisms such as Diderot made of Petty (see “Arithmetique politique,” 1751). The advances made in the calculus of probabilities during this period led Deparcieux to draw up a mortality table, published in 1746 in his Essai sur les probabilités de la durée de la vie humaine. Buff on made use of these data in the second volume of his Histoire naturelle, published in 1749.
More original studies tried to measure the population on the basis of the number of births given by the parish registers. Between 1762 and 1770 the abbé Expilly, with the help of a huge number of subscribers and correspondents who answered his questionnaires, published his Dictionnaire geographique, historique et politique des Gaules et de la France (see Esmonin 1957). From 1764 on, he ceased basing his estimate of the total population on the number of hearths. Instead, he had the parish registers examined for the years 1690-1701 and 1752-1763, drawing up lists of names of the inhabitants of each parish in order to establish the population size on the basis of the number of births. The results for 9,000 parishes, published in 1766, showed that contrary to current opinion the population had increased. The population was estimated by Expilly at 22 million for the entire kingdom. The same method was employed in the Recherches sur la population des généralités d‘Auvergne, de Lyon, de Rouen et de quelques provinces et villes du royaume, a work published in 1766 under the name of Messance, receiver of taxes for the district of Saint-Étienne (the actual author may have been La Michodiere, intendant of Lyons). The author of this work made use of variable coefficients in order to estimate the number of inhabitant-birth ratio in each area (the highest such coefficient used by Expilly was 25); he, too, concluded that the population had increased and estimated it at 23,909,400.
These efforts were crowned by the Recherches et considérations sur la population de la France written in 1774 and published in 1778 under the name of Moheau, secretary of Montyon, the former intendant of Auvergne, who was undoubtedly the real author (Chevalier 1948; Esmonin 1958). Montyon compared the various research methods and came to the conclusion that the firmest foundation was that offered by study of the parish registers and of the number of births. By these means he estimated the population to be 23,687,409. His great originality lies in his analysis of the distribution of the population (by age groups and sex, by civil status, and by marital condition) and of the natural and social factors affecting fertility.
Research undertaken by the Academy . During the latter half of the eighteenth century the French Academy of Sciences was responsible for the development of social research in two areas. The first was the application of the calculus of probabilities to quantitative social data. In this connection, there was a controversy in 1760/1761 between d‘Alem-bert and Bernoulli on the statistical measurement of vaccination, and Laplace wrote a memorandum in 1778 on the ratio in Paris of the sexes at birth, and another in 1786 on births, marriages, and deaths; Condorcet (1785) used the calculus of probabilities to study jury verdicts and election results (see Rosen 1955; Westergaard 1932).
The second area was that of the technical problems on which the government frequently consulted the Academy. Thus, in 1762 Deparcieux prepared a report for the government on the supply of drinking water to Paris, and in 1764 one on floods. In 1785 the new statutes of the Academy, thanks to Lavoisier and Condorcet, included the specification that an agricultural section should be set up. In the same year Calonne, the controller general, formed an agricultural commission, of which Lavoisier was a member; and the Academy appointed a committee for reforming the Hotel-Dieu.
Lavoisier‘s labors on behalf of Calonne‘s com-mission supplied material for the publication, in 1791, of Résultats d‘un ouvrage intitulé: De la richesse territoriale du royaume de France (this work actually appeared under the auspices of the Taxation Committee of the Constituent Assembly). Lavoisier obtained an estimate of cereal production by combining data on the size of the population (derived from Messance and Montyon) with data on consumption. From the population, he passed to the number of plows, to a “hypothetical census” of livestock, and to the area of land under cultivation. He advocated the centralization of official statistics and their publication.
The committee for reforming the Hotel-Dieu (comprising Bailly, Lavoisier, Laplace, and Tenon) engaged in a vast inquiry, from 1785 to 1789, on the organization of hospitals in France and in Europe. The official conclusions, based on documents, questionnaires, and direct observation, were presented in three reports by Bailly (1790). In addition, Tenon (1788) published a detailed description of how Parisian hospitals were organized and went on to examine their deficiencies and to propose steps toward a more rational organization. Early in 1790 Cabanis published his Observationssur les hopitaux, in which he proposed more radical measures than those proposed by the commissioners of the Academy. A new generation had appeared, the generation of the ideologues.
The ideologues and the Institut . Social research began again after the fall of Robespierre. In 1795 the Convention set up the Institut National des Sciences et des Arts, intended to replace the academies, which had been suppressed in 1793. The Institut included a “second class,” devoted to the moral and political sciences, the official doctrine of which was the ideology laid down by Destutt de Tracy and Cabanis. This doctrine, with its stress on the analysis of language and of signs and its notion of a perceptible relationship between the moral and the physical, influenced empirical social research in ethnography and hygiene and also affected government administration.
In ethnography the outstanding figure was Volney, first a physician and then an Orientalist and traveler, who gave an exact description and systematic analysis of Middle Eastern society in his Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie, published in 1787. Taking his inspiration from a questionnaire com-piled in 1762 by the German Orientalist Michaelis and from the instructions to representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, he addressed his Questions de statistique à I‘usage des voyageurs (1795) to diplomatic agents (Gaulmier 1951). Other ethno-graphic activity included the foundation, in 1800, of the Société des Observateurs de l‘Homme in Paris. Two years later the Institut organized a scientific expedition to New Holland, for which Gérando wrote Considérations sur les diverses méthodes à suivre dans I‘observation des peuples sauvages, published in 1801.
The reform of medical education ordered by the Convention in 1794, under the influence of Cabanis, Pinel, and Bichat—ideologues all three—put great emphasis on hygiene and forensic medicine (Rosen 1946; 1958; Foucault 1963). Hygiene was seen as linked up with welfare work and philanthropy (Cabanis 1803). The minister of the interior under the Directory, Francois de Neufchateau, a physiocrat and ideologue, had translations made of a collection of English and German works on “humanitarian establishments.” In 1802 the Conseil de Salubrité de la Seine was established. It was used as a model by industrial cities after 1815. In it the physician appeared as a social inquirer and reformer. The hygienist movement continued to develop in the period of industrialization, when it attained its apogee (the complete works of Cabanis were published in the early 1820s). Gérando‘s career is an illustration of the movement‘s continuity; he was general secretary of the Ministry of the Interior under the Empire and published Le visiteur du pauvre in 1820 and De la bienfaisance publiquein 1839.
Other research in continental Europe
In other continental European states in the eighteenth century, census-type information was occasionally assembled for the government by individuals appointed specifically for that purpose. No permanent machinery for collecting and tabulating the information existed, and no standardized methods were used. It is therefore not surprising that the results were generally incomplete and unreliable.
The aim of these surveys was, for the most part, to obtain information useful for taxation and military planning—information that was naturally in-tended to be kept secret. In Austria, Belgium, and several other countries, occasional enumerations of the population, dwellings, livestock and other aspects of agriculture, commerce, industry, and the army were undertaken, usually only for a given region or city. In Denmark population enumerations took place in 1769 and in 1787. In Sweden, by the law of 1686, parish registers had to be kept of the number of births and deaths and of migration, as well as a list of parish members. The size of the population was of particular concern because of a suspected population decline in the early eighteenth century. In 1748 provision was made for the regular deposit and analysis of these records at a central location. The parish clergy completed the local enumeration for their parishes on standardized forms and forwarded them through the church bureaucracy. The summary for 1749, prepared by Per Wargentin, is probably the oldest national census report. Additional data were published in 1761 by the Swedish Academy of Science. Much of this information, however, remained unanalyzed, even though, unlike French work in this area, the Swedish census was made public.
In the numerous German kingdoms, principali-ties, and free cities of the seventeenth century, civic reconstruction became the major concern after the devastation of the Thirty Years‘ War. As a result, a need was felt for systematic information about countries and states. The term “statistics” derives from the activities designed to fulfill this need. Originally, “statistics” meant a mixture of geography, history, law, political science, and public administration. Hermann Conring, who died in 1681, was a professor at Brunswick who developed a set of categories for the purpose of characterizing the state. He was especially concerned with interstate comparisons. He was explicit about his method, classified his sources, and gave criteria for evaluating their reliability. By the early eighteenth century his system was being widely taught at German universities to future civil servants. The later academic school of “statistics,” whose outstanding representatives were Achenwall, Schlozer, and Nieman, centered in Göttingen and further perfected Conring‘s system. In the early nineteenth century these descriptive statisticians were challenged by the “table statisticians,” who used the increasingly available quantitative data to make numerous cross-classifications.
At this time, too, a number of statistical associations were formed in Germany, and several states created statistical agencies. After lengthy and bitter polemics, the older statistical tradition slowly under-went a three-way division of labor. The academic discipline of political science and public administration (Staatswissenschaften*) continued the descriptive tradition. Political economy (Volkswirtschaftslehre) became established in the universities and combined the historical and descriptive with the newer, quantitative methods. Finally, statisticians monopolized the statistical agencies and census bureaus.
Research in nineteenth-century Britain
British decennial censuses were started in 1801, under the direction of John Rickman. The first three concentrated on the enumeration of inhabitants, families, and dwellings. The clergy filled re-turns for each parish, and the quality of the returns left much to be desired. The 1831 census was the first to probe for occupation. It gained added importance because precise demographic data were needed for parliamentary reform. This new information was quickly incorporated into such works as Patrick Colquhoun‘s Treatise on the Wealth, Power, and Resources of the British Empire (1814), William Playfair‘s Statistical Breviary (1801), and John R. McCulloch‘s Descriptive and Statistical Account of the British Empire (1837). They were the equivalents of today‘s statistical abstracts, year-books, who‘s whos, and information almanacs.
Rural surveys . The latter part of the eighteenth century was the period of the agricultural revolution in Britain. Novel techniques of social research were brought to bear upon the pressing rural problems of the day. Arthur Young, who lived until 1820, carried out social investigations of rural areas. Unlike the extensive travel literature that focused merely on the peculiar customs of rural folk, Young‘s works described the actual way of life of the rural areas and assessed their agricultural resources with a view to improving cultivation and husbandry. Young‘s extensive travel accounts covered the rural scene in England, France, and Ire-land (1771a; 1771b; 1780; 1793).
It remained for the Scotsman John Sinclair to introduce quantitative techniques into rural surveys. Sinclair was a wealthy landowner, scientific farmer, traveler, member of Parliament, and writer on many topics. He was familiar with the German statistical tradition, and when in 1755 a private population census of Scotland was carried out through the agency of the Scottish clergy, he conceived work along the same lines but far more ambitious. This work eventually became a monu-mental social statistical inquiry so broad that it took over seven years to complete. It was published in 21 volumes, between 1791 and 1799, as The Statistical Account of Scotland. Sinclair defined statistics as “an inquiry into the state of a country for the purpose of ascertaining the quantum of happiness enjoyed by its inhabitants and the means of its future improvement” (1791-1799, vol. 20, p. xiv). In several appendixes, contained in the last volume, he gave a clear account of his methodology and techniques. He enlisted the cooperation of the Scottish clergy, from whom he eventually obtained parish accounts for each of the 881 parishes of Scotland. The heart of the inquiry was a questionnaire schedule with over a hundred separate questions. In later stages he also used a shorter form, which merely required the respondents to fill numbers into tables. In the appendixes, he reprinted the 23 follow-up letters which over the years he had sent to nonrespondents, in which he alternately begged, cajoled, argued, and threatened. In the end he was forced to send several “statistical missionaries” to complete certain parish returns. He presented a table of the number of returned schedules by date. He urged the ministers to send him all manner of information and the results of their own studies, in addition to replying to his inquiry. The questionnaire itself is divided into several parts. The first 40 questions deal with the geography, geology, and natural history of the parish. Questions 41 to 100 deal with the population : age, sex, occupation, religion, estate and profession (nobility, gentry, clergy, attorneys, etc.), births, deaths, suicides, murders, and number of unemployed, paupers, habitual drunkards, etc. Questions 101 to 116 deal with agricultural produce, husbandry, and minerals; a series of miscellaneous items at the end inquires into wages, prices, history of the parish, character of the people, patterns of land tenure, and comparisons of present conditions in the parish with earlier periods.
Sinclair had a thoroughly modern attitude toward quantification. When he made inquiries about the character of the parish population, he asked whether the people were fond of military life and wanted to know the number of enlistments in recent years. When he asked, “Are people disposed to humane and generous actions,” he wanted to know whether they “protect and relieve the ship-wrecked, etc.” The quality of the returns varied widely; understandably, there were major difficulties in analyzing, summarizing, and publishing them. Sinclair employed several paid assistants to compile county tabulations from the parish returns, but a definitive quantitative exploitation of the data was not published until 1825, after Sinclair had retired from public life. In the end, The Statistical Account of Scotland was a collection of the parish accounts, with a few county summary tabulations by Sinclair and his assistants.
Sinclair‘s Statistical Account, however, was a useful precedent for a census and demonstrated that one could be made. He tried to induce European governments to establish a decennial census, and his efforts certainly contributed to the adoption of the census by many nations in the first half of the nineteenth century. His two-volume sum-mary was translated into French. However, his method of choosing the parish as the reporting unit and the clergy as reporting agents was even then outdated, since the parish, as a unit of local government and administration, had already largely broken down under the impact of the industrial revolution and the growth of cities. Later social investigators of industrial and urban problems had to devise a different approach, the house-to-house survey, which Charles Booth was still using at the end of the century.
Research on problems of industrialization . In order to understand the extraordinary outpouring of social research in the period from 1780 to 1840 in Britain, it must be remembered that this was a time of great efforts aimed at reforming outdated social institutions, including the poor laws, the educational system, local government, public health institutions, and Parliament itself. Independent authorities, commissions, and improvement associations were set up and were staffed by lawyers, businessmen, ministers, educators, physicians, and other civic leaders. Many of these reformers doubled as social researchers. Thus, social policy, social re-search, reform, and legislation formed a part of a single, broad effort. Many physicians were engaged in reform activities and social investigations, for two reasons at least. First, they were daily reminded, through their contacts with working-class patients and the poor, of the magnitude of the problem, as far as health, diet, poverty, and unsanitary living conditions were concerned. Second, the miasmatic theory of the origin and spread of diseases, which was then prevalent, gave their re-forming outlook a justification from the point of view of medical science.
The most frequent pattern of action, involving social policy, social research, reform, and legislation, was as follows. First, a social evil was recognized by an individual or a small group, who often initiated research into the topic. Second, as a result of this initiative, other studies and local experiments and improvements were undertaken by larger, more organized groups. Third, these efforts stirred up and molded public opinion, attracted government attention, and finally led to government action in the form of boards of inquiry and royal commissions, which, when successful, led in turn to legislation attempting to correct the evil. Finally, legislation provided for inspection systems and other institutionalized means of controlling the implementation of social change.
Of the numerous reformer-investigators, perhap the most outstanding were Howard, Eden, Kay-Shuttleworth, and Chadwick. John Howard, a country squire, became a tireless researcher into prison conditions and an advocate of prison reform. By his own account, he traveled over 42,000 miles, all over Great Britain and Europe, during his investigations. In State of the Prisons (1777) and An Account of the Principal Lazarettos in Europe (1789), he described in detail the conditions within hundreds of prisons and prison hospitals: how the prisoners passed the time; what they were given for food; what illnesses and dis-comforts they suffered; the manner of prison administration; the number of prisoners, by sex and crime category, in every English prison; and so on. His books were filled with comparisons of the treatment of criminals in different countries and with suggestions for improvements. Thanks to his efforts and those of his backers, more humane treatment was introduced in many prisons.
Sir Frederick Morton Eden was a businessman. The inflation of 1794-1795 was the immediate cause of his empirical investigation into the number and conditions of the poor. He visited many parishes and carried on a voluminous correspondence with the local clergy. The fruit of his efforts, the three-volume State of the Poor, was published in 1797. Most of the work is taken up by parochial reports, which contain information, some of it in numerical detail, on the size of the population, the number of houses that paid taxes, the principal manufactures, the typical wages in the principal occupations, the rent of farms, the prices of foods, the friendly societies and their membership, the number of poor, and detailed description of conditions of the parish workhouses, among other things. He also presented 43 detailed family budgets of laborers, weavers, miners, masons, and other workers. He used a paid investigator for much of this detailed work, an innovation later adopted by the statistical societies. He based his recommendation for reform of the poor-law system on his findings. His budgetary studies and detailed empirical method represent an innovation in social research which was later developed further by Le Play and his school.
The physician James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth was an active sanitary reformer, one of the founders of the Manchester Statistical Society, and, later, assistant poor-law commissioner. His early surveys were published as The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes Employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester (1832). These set a model for the more comprehensive surveys under-taken by the statistical societies. After 1840 he devoted his energies to introducing and developing a national system of education.
Edwin Chadwick was a civil servant who was active on parliamentary and other commissions throughout his life. More than any other person he was responsible for the Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Gt. Britain, published in 1842, which eventually led to the Public Health Act of 1848 and the establishment of the Central Board of Health. The report set a precedent for subsequent administrative and parliamentary investigations into social problems.
In the 1830s a large number of local statistical societies were founded by citizens active in social reform. The two oldest and most active, those of Manchester and London, have survived to the present day. In addition, a statistical section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was founded in 1833, at the insistence of Babbage, Malthus, and Quetelet.
The aim of these statistical societies was social improvement based on matter-of-fact, quantitative inquiries into problems of society. The societies organized committees of inquiry to carry out research into the health, living conditions, education, religious practices, and working conditions of the lower classes. The surveys were often large under-takings that took several months and many hundreds of pounds to complete. Paid agents were sent to hold door-to-door interviews based on a prepared schedule of questions. Results were tabulated centrally and presented at the annual meetings of the British Association or of the societies themselves and often appeared in such publications as the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Dozens of such surveys were completed, some making use of quite sophisticated multivariate cross-tabulations. Other studies were based on existing institutional records.
Decline of research related to social problems . However, toward the end of the 1840s a decline in social research set in. The major aims of the researcher-reformers were increasingly fulfilled as Parliament passed the Factory Acts and numerous other bills and measures; the economic conditions of the working people noticeably improved, and their political activities collapsed with the defeat of Chartism. Few original surveys were undertaken, and the methodology of those that were undertaken was inferior. Many of the local statistical societies themselves passed out of existence. In Manchester a large number of the original founding members became increasingly absorbed in civic and political activity. In the London Statistical Society, interest shifted to public health, vital statistics, the health of troops, mortality in the colonies, the duration of life in different occupations, etc., for which secondary analysis of published statistics sufficed. There was generally a lack of interest in methodology, whether in questions of study design, techniques of data collection, or analysis. For a time the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, founded in 1857, rallied individuals concerned with the empirical investigation of labor relations, education, and social problems. But increasingly it was social Darwinism which shaped the intellectual life of Britain. The separation of the social research organizations from any academic context accounts in part for the lack of institutionalization of social research in Britain in the mid-century period. Absence of continuity in recruiting interested researchers, of continuous improvement in the methods of research, of a tradition oriented beyond the short-range goals of social betterment, and of regular financial back-ing—these were some of the disadvantages that this lack of institutionalization entailed.
The discovery of evolution, the advances in the biological sciences, and the increasing acceptance of race and heredity as fundamental categories in social analysis produced a shift in the intellectual climate. Whereas earlier researchers linked crime with indigence and lack of education, the newer outlook searched for evidence of hereditary degeneracy and other physical and psychological impairments. The lower classes, the destitute, criminals, and other unfortunate groups were often considered an inferior species of humanity. Social policy to ease their condition was viewed by many with alarm because it would prevent the fittest from being the only ones to survive and would thus slowly degenerate the stock of the entire nation. The same sort of educated, middle-class or upper-middle-class individual with a scientific turn of mind who in the 1830s and 1840s might have joined the statistical societies and conducted doorto-door parish surveys of the working people later in the century became a member of anthropological, ethnographic, and eugenics societies and spent his time in the study of primitive cultures or modern genealogies, making hundreds of cranial and other physical measurements in endless efforts at classification and typology. The burden of proof devolved upon the environmentalists.
Booth and the study of the poor. Starting in the 1880s there took place a revival in the scientific study of the poor, which culminated in the monu-mental social investigations of Charles Booth. Booth came from a wealthy family of Liverpool ship-owners. His object was to show one-half of London how the other half lived, more particularly, “the numerical relation which poverty, misery, and depravity bear to regular earnings, and to describe the general condition under which each class lives” (1889-1891, vol. 1, p. 6). Gathering around him such researchers as Beatrice Potter Webb and Octavia Hill and other social workers and social economists, Booth started work in 1886 on what was to become the Life and Labour of the People in London, published from 1889 to 1891 in many volumes and several editions. London at the time already had four million inhabitants. Booth at first collected available information from the census and from the four hundred school-attendance officers, who kept records on every poor family. These records were cross-checked with information available to the police, sanitary inspectors, friendly societies, and the numerous charitable organizations and agencies dealing with a wage-earning clientele. Later, Booth followed up these data with participant observation of particular streets and house-holds, and for a time he was himself a lodger with various workingmen‘s families.
Booth divided the families of London into eight classes, according to the amount and regularity of their earnings and, for the well-to-do, the number of their domestic servants. In his analysis he proceeded to characterize each city block according to the predominant class of the families in it. Assigning a color to each of the eight classes, he prepared colored maps of the entire city. He proceeded to describe, district by district, street by street, the style of life, the problems, and the prospects of the families living in them, including their religious practices, their recreation, and the use made by them of public houses and of the voluntary organizations to be found in their district. He devoted several volumes to description of the wages and working conditions in the trades of the city. The end result was the most detailed and large-scale social description ever achieved, which stirred up the contemporary social conscience and eventually led to the Old Age Pension Act of 1908, a legal minimum wage in the “sweated” trades, state pro-vision for the sick and the disabled, and the start of unemployment insurance.
Booth‘s work inspired urban surveys by other investigators, who perfected his techniques. The most notable of these was B. Seebohm Rowntree, whose Poverty: A Study of Town Life, published in 1901, dealt with one city, and Arthur L. Bowley and A. R. Burnett-Hurst, whose Livelihood and Poverty, published in 1915, was a multicity study, the first in which sampling was used systematically in place of a complete enumeration. Booth‘s analysis of the causes of poverty left much to be desired, as contemporary statistical critics pointed out. One of these, G. Udny Yule, using Booth‘s data, subjected social data for the first time to multiple-regression and correlation techniques (1899). However, the systematic application of the statistical techniques developed by Galton, Edgeworth, Pearson, and Yule had to wait until the twentieth century, when these techniques entered social research by way of the biological, agricultural, and psychological sciences [see Statistics, article on The History of Statistical Method].
Research in nineteenth-century France
The creation in 1800/1801 of the Statistique de la République (Gille 1964, pp. 121-147) and the suppression in 1803 of the second class of the Institut gave the lead once more to governmental inquiries. Until 1806 there prevailed great enthusiasm for statistics, sustained by the Annales de statistique, published from 1802 to 1804, and the Société de Statistique, which lasted from 1803 to 1806. The Bureau de Statistique published statistical memoirs by the various départements; these memoirs were based on the general inquiry ordered in 1801 by Chaptal, then minister of the interior (Pigeire 1932), and by Duquesnoy. The questions asked of the prefects relate to the location, condition, and movement of the population in 1789 and 1801; the “state of the citizens” and the changes therein from 1789 to 1801 for six categories; the religious and lay ways of life, habits, and customs; and finally, the changes of agriculture and industry since 1789. Many errors were discovered, leading to cessation of publication and reorganization of the Bureau de Statistique in 1806. However, works based on the data collected continued to appear until about 1810. The Bureau also received regular reports from the prefects and undertook such special inquiries as the so-called census of 1801, which was conducted by the maires (Reinhard 1961), and an estimate of the population carried out in 1802 with the collaboration of Laplace and described in his Theorie analytique des probabilities (published in 1812). After 1806 the Bureau was in charge of Coquebert de Monbret, who was interested in inquiries on special subjects: an industrial and an agricultural inquiry in 1806, and the next year an inquiry into what was described as the means of support, kind of occupation, and various religions of more than sixteen social categories. A second census of the population was carried out in 1806.
The idea of a general inquiry was picked up again in 1810. A questionnaire containing 334 items was sent to the prefects, and a general estimate of the population was made in the following year. But the failure of the general inquiry led to a return to special inquiries (for instance, into industry and communications), which taken together form the Exposé de la situation de I‘Empire, présenté an corps législatif dans sa séance du 25 février 1813 by Jean-Pierre Montalivet, minister of the interior. The Bureau de Statistique had already been abolished, in September 1812, and from that time on the collection of industrial and agricultural statistics was a government prerogative.
Research on problems of industrialization. The importance given to social research by the various revolutionary governments explains the initial dis-trust of such studies on the part of the monarchy, which had been restored in 1815. However, urbanization and industrialization were accompanied by social problems, which were played up in parliamentary debates and in the press, and a number of institutions were created in order to study these problems.
The philanthropic movement continued under the Restoration, with the Societe Roy ale pour I‘Amelioration des Prisons and, outside Paris, the Societe Industrielle de Mulhouse. Villermé‘s early classic of penology, Des prisons, telles qu‘elles sont, et telles quelles demaient être, appeared in 1820. Public health research founded on observation and quantification increased (see Ackerknecht 1948). The force of the movement resulted in the establishment of the Académie Roy ale de Médecine (1820), the Conseil Supérieur de Santé (1822), the creation of health councils (conseils de salubrité) in the provinces between 1822 and 1830, and the founding in 1829 of the Annales d‘hygiène publique et de médecine légale, which affirmed the role of the physician as investigator and social reformer.
Statistical research had been resumed with the census of Paris ordered in 1817 by the prefect Chabrol and published in the six volumes of Recherches statistiques sur la mile de Paris et le département de la Seine (see Seine 1821-1860). These volumes contained data not only on the population but also on goods consumed, levels of wealth, causes of death, suicide, etc. There also appeared the Compte général de I‘administration de la justice criminelle (see France, Ministère de la Justice), which classified the types of crimes, as well as the criminals, and the Comptes présentés au roi sur le recrutement de I‘armée, in which the con-scripts‘ degree of education was made public (see France, Ministere de la Guerre). Publication of this information made possible the rise of “moral statistics,” a field in which one of the earliest achievements was a study of crime and education by Balbi and Guerry (1829).
The July revolution of 1830 promoted social re-search in two ways. The reinstatement in 1832 of the second class of the Institut, under the title Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, enabled public health workers and statisticians to undertake their own research, since the new academy sponsored prize competitions. Two winners of these competitions were Frégier‘s Des classes dangereuses de la population dans les grandes villes, published in 1840, and Buret‘s De la misère des classes laborieuses en Angleterre et en France, published the same year. In 1832 there was created the Statistique Générate de la France, which began its publications in 1834 and in 1836 carried out the first trustworthy census of the whole of France in 15 years and which provided scholars with extensive and solid data.
Social research was also stimulated by the labor question, to which Villeneuve-Bargemont had drawn attention in 1828 with his unpublished Rapport sur le département du Nord (see Beautot 1939-1943) and which could no longer be ignored after the insurrections of 1831 and 1834. There were an increasing number of inquiries and books devoted to the working classes (Rigaudias 1936). In 1834 the Académie des Sciences Morales directed Benoiston de Chateauneuf and Villermé to find out as precisely as possible the physical and moral condition of the working classes. Villermé‘s researches, conducted in the mill towns from 1835 to 1840, were published in 1840 as Tableau de I‘état physique et moral des ouvriers employés dans les manufactures de coton, de laine et de sole.
Guerry‘s “statistique morale.” Guerry, an attorney born in Tours, took an interest in the official statistics on crime. In his Essai sur la statistique morale de la France (1833) he studied the relationship of two social variables, the crime rate and the level of education. He came up against two methodological problems: the absence of any measure of statistical correlation, and the difficulty of using collective measures, such as the crime rates or average level of education for a whole county, to explore questions of individual behavior, such as whether the better educated commit more or fewer crimes than the less well educated. Having established, over a six-year period, that the crime rate tended to remain stable—a fact he attributed to the systematic and constant nature of the causal forces at work—Guerry tried to compare the ecological distribution of criminality with that of education, ranking the 85 départements of France by their crime rate, on the one hand, and their level of literacy, on the other, and then looking to see whether a county at the extreme of one of these two distributions had the same position on the other. Since the counties ranked at the extremes of the distribution for education were not the same counties that were at the extremes of the distribution for crimes against the person but were the same counties as those at the extremes of the distribution for crimes against property, Guerry was led to conclude that there was no negative correlation between education and criminality and that the intervening variable might be level of industrialization. [For other research by Guerry, see Suicide, article on Social Aspects.]
Parent-Duchatelet and prostitution . Parent-Duchátelet, a member of the group that had founded the Aúnales dhygiéne, was responsible for two important works: Hygiene publique (1836), which brought together the 30 reports drawn up since 1825 for the Conseil de Salubrité de la Seine, and a two-volume work entitled On Prostitution in the City of Paris (1834), one of the best inquiries of the period in this field. The origins of this inquiry were both philanthropic and administrative. A philanthropist friend of the author‘s, eager to help prostitutes by publishing the truth about them, discovered that they lived in a world apart (what would nowadays be called a subculture) and that the first thing that had to be done was to get to know them. The municipality, which had succeeded in curbing prostitution and as a result was receiving requests for information from abroad, wanted an “evaluation” of what it had done [see Evaluation Research]. In his research Parent-Duchatelet combined the use of documents, such as police files; personal observation in the field and interviews (something unusual in the France of that period, when researchers, including Villerme, obtained their information indirectly, through observer re-ports); and statistical method (he compiled about 150 tables). He tried to determine the number of prostitutes and how the total varied over time; the prostitutes‘ regional and social origins; their physio-logical and social characteristics; their attitudes toward institutions such as marriage and religion; the reasons that had led them to a life of prostitution; and ways in which they left it. The study ended with an acknowledgment of the inevitability of prostitution and set forth arguments for the moral and material necessity of caring for prostitutes (a matter debated at the time) and of providing institutions designed to receive repentant prostitutes. Parent-Duchatelet appended a draft law for checking the offenses against public decency that were caused by prostitution. In its scientific neutrality on a problem laden with moral taboos, as well as the use of direct observation and inter-views, his whole approach was astonishingly modern.
Villermé‘s study of textile workers . Born in Paris in 1782, Villermé was 52 years old when he began his great inquiry into the conditions of textile workers. He spent six years observing workers in the most important centers of textile manufacturing. His two-volume report is the crowning work of a career that began in 1819 and was devoted to both hygiene and statistics. Between 1819 and 1834 Villermé published more than forty articles, in seven different journals (Guérard 1864). Some of these articles are simply collections of observations on problems of hygiene or other social problems; they reveal Villermé‘s skill in observation, which he had developed while serving as a surgeon in the Napoleonic armies from 1802 to 1814 and while studying to become a physician (he received his medical degree in 1818). Beginning in 1822 he became interested chiefly in the mortality statistics of Paris and of France, especially as they were related to income: he wrote several papers showing that the mortality rate of the poor was much higher than that of the well-to-do (Vedrenne-Villeneuve 1961).
In his study of the textile workers, Villermé used both statistical data and his own qualitative observations. He found some statistics in the annual reports of the départements, but for the most part he collected them himself. The statistics dealt with the number of workers (difficult to establish in the absence of a census by occupation, which did not exist in France until 1851); the average rate of pay for different kinds of workers (the data were provided by owners and foremen); the length of the working day; demographic information (births, marriages, number of children, number of illegitimate births); and the budgets of working families. Villermé‘s own observations concerned the cleanliness of the workshops and of the workers‘ dwellings, and he took note of the workers‘ clothing and diet and various aspects of their behavior (for ex-ample, the amount of alcoholism and prostitution).
Both when he used statistics and when he used qualitative observations, Villerme made use of indicators, without designating them as such. Thus, he took a high number of illegitimate births to be a reliable index of the disruption of customs, and he interpreted qualitative indices such as being paid monthly (rather than by the day or week), having wine with Sunday dinner, using window curtains, or owning an umbrella as signs of affluence.
Like Guerry in his Statistique morale, Villerme ran into two difficulties in his interpretation of statistical data: first, the lack of a measure of cor-relation; second and more important, the ecological character of the data, which described predominantly working-class neighborhoods but not the workers themselves. These handicaps made it necessary for him to perform statistical calculations that were often very interesting, for example, when he demonstrated that at Amiens more than 70 per cent of working-class conscripts were rejected by the army for reasons of health, as against 50 per cent of nonworking-class conscripts (1840, vol. 1, pp. 311-317).
In the first volume of his work, Villerme brought together all his facts, arranging them in almost the same way for every industrial area he studied, a procedure that enabled him to present a systematic description. The second volume, which he presented in 1837 to the Academic des Sciences Morales, covers most of the same categories in an analytical way.
Villermé‘s inquiry is methodologically less highly developed than that of Parent-Duchatelet. He did not interview workers, with the exception of the silk workers of Lyon; he used only informants. But Villerme‘s subject was far more controversial. At the end of his careful description, he maintained that the lot of the workers had slightly improved, a conclusion that was attacked in socialist circles, especially by Buret. At the same time, Villerme‘s facts about wages and budgets dramatically revealed the inadequacy of the workers‘ resources and their miserable living conditions, and his denunciation of the employing of very young children in factories made him the target of attacks by orthodox liberals and supporters of the established order. The controversy about Villermé has continued into recent times: Rigaudias (1936) accepted without question the position taken by Buret, while Fourastié (1951) applauded the precision of Villermé‘s descriptive and statistical information and the solidity of his conclusions.
The facts about child labor collected by Villerme were discussed and criticized in England, in the debates of May and June 1839 in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and they played a part in the enactment of the law regulating child labor that was passed on March 22, 1841.
Inquiry into agricultural and industrial labor. The National Assembly that was elected after the fall of Louis xvm decided in May 1848 to under-take an inquiry into the state of agricultural and industrial labor. The inquiry took up the same subjects that Guerry, Villermé, and Buret had dealt with. Completed by the end of 1850, it was the last large-scale official inquiry that sought to study major problems in France as a whole. After 1852 the government authorized either statistical surveys of the whole country or detailed studies of limited problems. As for studies by individuals, these were hereafter generally monographs; the work of Le Play illustrates this development [see the biography of Le Play].
The inquiry by the National Assembly precipitated a lively ideological debate concerning social research (Rigaudias 1936). Between 1840 and 1848 the socialists had repeatedly and vainly demanded an official inquiry into working-class conditions (Ledru-Rollin‘s Workers‘ Petition was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies in 1845); but now, with Louis Blanc as their spokesman, the socialists demanded the establishment of a ministry of labor. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, opposed such a ministry, favoring instead an inquiry of the kind they had earlier rejected. Social research based on the observation of facts became identified with moderate and conservative bourgeois ideology and was therefore rejected by the various strains of socialist thought. Open socialist opposition to such research continued until the time of Durkheim and his school.
The questionnaire used by the inquiry contained 29 questions about major problems in each district, the general state of industry, the economic and social condition of the industrial workers, and the general state of agriculture. Answers were to be supplied by district commissions, presided over by the justice of the peace of the district and composed of one employer and one worker for each industrial specialty. The carrying out of the inquiry was hampered by the imprecision of the questionnaire (stressed in Gille 1964), and by doubts, shared by the government and the workers, as to its usefulness. (In the opinion of Rigaudias, the workers‘ lack of confidence constituted the essential obstacle.) Although responses were received from 76 per cent of the districts—a high rate of response—the Assembly ordered, after a brief debate, that the questionnaires be placed in the files of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, with no provision for publication of the results.
Even to the present day, only a small part of the results of the inquiry of 1848 has been published by historians (Gossez 1904; Kahan-Rabecq 1934/1935; 1939; Vincienne & Courtois 1958). There are gaps in the documents in the Archives Nationales: missing are the materials on 22 départements, on almost all the large industrial centers, and on all the large industrial cities except Marseilles. Investigations, made in the archives of the départements, of the working of the commissions (Vidalenc 1948; Agulhon 1958; Guillaume 1962; all of these are cited in Gille 1964, p. 216) show that the answers to the questionnaire reflected the point of view of the leading citizens of the towns—sometimes, in-deed, simply those of the presiding justice of the peace.
The failure of the great inquiry of 1848 served as a justification for the abandonment of national social inquiries conducted by representatives of the government. It also led to the breach between socialism and empirical social research. The publication in 1855 of Frédéric Le Play‘s Ouvriers europeens marked the beginning of a new kind of research and was the most important event in the history of social research during the Second Empire. Like the hygienists earlier, especially Villerme, Le Play used direct observation and the monographic method. He was more like the traditionalists and the socialists (and unlike the hygienists) in basing a scheme for the global reorganization of society on his “method of observation,” yet he differed from the socialists in striving for the restoration of traditional principles, rather than for a new social order.
Finally, it may be noted that Le Play, like all social philosophers and researchers before him, remained outside the university system. Only with the generation of Tarde and Durkheim and the establishment of the Office (later Ministry) of Labor, endorsed by the parliamentary socialists, was there a reconciliation of empirical social research with socialist thought and with the university system.
Research in nineteenth-century Germany
Unlike social research in Britain, which was mainly the work of private individuals and voluntary associations, the bulk of German social research in the nineteenth century was carried out by academic scholars and professional organizations. At that time the German universities constituted the most advanced system of higher education in the world. The historical school of economics, which rejected the views of the British political economists, contributed most to social research and to the gradual emergence of sociology as a distinct discipline. These economists sympathized with the underprivileged and firmly believed that research would contribute to a progressive social policy and the solution of social problems.
In the 1860s and 1870s, as a result of Quetelet‘s influence, moral statistics and demography became important areas of research in Germany. Ernst Engel, who was to become the head of the Prussian and German statistical bureaus, made use of both Le Play‘s and Quetelet‘s budget data and methodology to demonstrate his “law.” Engel‘s law stated that regardless of the total size of the family budget, there exists the same priority of needs, as measured by the total amounts spent on certain types of expenditures and that, furthermore, the poorer a family, the larger will be the proportion of its budget spent on food alone. M. W. Drobisch, G. F. Knapp, Adolf Wagner, Johannes Conrad, Wilhelm Lexis, Alexander von Oettingen and others subjected statistical data on crime, suicide, marriage, jury convictions, conscripts‘ characteristics, and other economic and social data to analytic scrutiny in their varied attempts to establish empirical constancies in social life. Unfortunately, these attempts were involved with the prolonged and sterile debate on free will and determinism that Quetelet‘s ideas had provoked. However, more and more areas of social life were gradually made the object of quantitative study: occupations and social mobility, higher education, voting, the circulation figures of newspapers, the clientele of public libraries, the composition of military and political elites, and many others. At best, important monographs on single topics were completed. At worst, voluminous compilations of statistics with no theoretical under-pinning were endlessly gathered and offered as proof that a new social science discipline had come into existence.
Tönnies and his sociographic method. Ferdinand Tonnies throughout his life fought against the narrow conception of empirical sociology as the mere compilation of facts. To this he opposed his own notion of “sociography,” in which systematic observation, case studies, and other qualitative methods were included, together with statistical description. The goal of sociography was to arrive at empirical laws by the method of induction, ap-plied to systematically collected information. Sociography was to be one of the three branches of sociology, equal in importance to theory. Tonnies himself had studied statistics with Engel, who im-pressed upon him the importance of Quetelet‘s accomplishments. Starting in 1895, and continuing for the rest of his life, he published intensive statistical monographs on land tenure and agrarian social structure, demography, crime, suicide, and voting. Most of the studies dealt with his home state of Schleswig-Holstein. Tonnies developed a measure of association and a method for the analysis of correlation between time series. In later life he repeatedly called for the creation of sociographic observatories, where specialists of many disciplines, together with members of the liberal professions and educated laymen, would collaborate in studying the facts of social life, especially those considered of moral significance. However, many of Tonnies‘ methods were not free from error, and he was unable to arouse the enthusiasm of his colleagues for sociographic observatories or sociography.
Research concerning the agrarian problem. After the unification of Germany in 1871, the agrarian problem received a great deal of attention; rural poverty and ignorance were prevalent, and there was a gradual displacement of native German peasants by Polish wage workers, especially in East Prussia. Many peasants emigrated; under the impact of the capitalist methods of agri-cultural production, introduced by the Junker with the help of protective tariffs, others were gradually reduced to the level of a rural proletariat. Every-where the earlier, paternalistic type of labor relations was disappearing. The first large-scale survey of agricultural laborers to concern itself with these problems was undertaken in 1874-1875, on behalf of the Congress of German Landowners, by Theodor von der Goltz.
The Verein fur Socialpolitik, founded in 1872, conducted, among other nationwide surveys, two on agricultural laborers, one on usury in rural areas, and one on cottage industry. The Verein was part professional association, part pressure group, and part research organization. At its conventions the implications of survey findings were debated with an eye to influencing social policy and legislation; further surveys were planned by an executive committee that enlisted the cooperation of key professors, who in turn brought their students into the survey. Max Weber‘s first empirical work was done under the auspices of the Verein (Weber 1892).
In the Verein surveys a schedule of questions was usually drawn up by topic. Questionnaires on such topics as land tenure, production, wages, living conditions, composition of the work force, and the extent of theft and drunkenness were then answered by landowners, ministers, doctors, notaries, teachers, members of agricultural societies, and other informed persons. The weaknesses of this methodology were that it assumed accurate knowledge on the part of the informants, that the questions were imprecisely put and were grouped in a haphazard fashion, that low response rates were achieved, and that the returns were only imperfectly exploited. In short, perfection of the techniques of survey research did not concern the Verein members; only Gottlieb Schnapper-Arndt (1888) subjected their methodology to a sharp critique. He had previously published Fünf Dorfgemeinden auf dem Hohen Taunus (1883), a very detailed field study of rural life, based on several months of painstaking participant observation and explicitly indebted to Le Play. Unfortunately, Schnapper-Arndt‘s impact upon his contemporaries remained minimal.
Religious organizations, such as the Evangelical-Social Congress, also conducted rural surveys. Their main interest was understandably in the morals, religion, and literacy of the rural population, and they sought the information primarily from ministers.
Studies of industrial workers. With the retirement of Bismarck and the repeal in 1890 of the laws banning socialist political activity, the working-class question began to receive much attention. Repeated socialist successes at the polls alarmed the German middle and upper classes. Increasing international competition and trade union demands for shorter working hours brought up the issue of productivity and the ability of German industry to compete against Britain in world markets.
In 1890 a young theology student named Paul Gohre, later a Social Democratic deputy in the Reichstag, decided to find out what he hoped would be the whole truth about the working classes. He spent three months working in a factory, pretending to be an apprentice and sharing in every way, both on and off the job, the daily life of the work force. Every night he wrote down his experiences of the day in the form of field notes, which he later published (Gohre 1891). His book was a remarkable document of the social structure on the factory floor and of the life styles, aspirations, and religious conceptions of the workers, and it received widespread recognition from the academic and general public alike. Gohre and Max Weber teamed up a year later as research directors for a study of agricultural laborers under the auspices of the aforementioned Evangelical-Social Congress. Gohre later edited a series of workers‘ autobiographies.
Adolf Levenstein, a self-educated worker, under-took, from 1907 to 1911, what is probably the first large-scale attitude and opinion survey on record. He sent out 8,000 questionnaires to miners, steel-workers, and textile workers, using a snowball procedure which started with his many friends. He achieved a 63 per cent rate of return, which is remarkably high. The questionnaire itself, despite technical shortcomings, explored the workers‘ attitudes on many of the important issues of the day—their material and political hopes and wishes, and their aspirations, religious beliefs, political activities, recreational and cultural pursuits, satis-faction or boredom with their work, and drinking habits, in addition to the standard information on social background and wages. Levenstein at first refused to make the findings public, but was persuaded by Weber and others to code and tabulate the answers, which eventually appeared in book form (Levenstein 1912). In many ways Levenstein followed Weber‘s advice (1909) on how to analyze an attitude survey, which foreshadowed some present-day procedures.
Weber himself at this time was the principal moving force behind the Verein fur Socialpolitik survey of industrial workers. This was planned as a large-scale attempt to determine the occupational careers, social origins, and style of life of the workers; some of the data were to be obtained directly from the workers themselves. Weber also intended to test a number of hypotheses about worker productivity. In particular he wanted to find out to what extent the laboratory methods of experimental psychophysics might be adapted to field experiments and surveys in a factory setting. In preparation for these tasks, he spent a whole summer observing the workers in a textile mill and analyzing their production figures. At the same time, he drew up a plan of procedure for the Verein researchers and wrote an explanation of the theoretical and methodological underpinning of the entire undertaking. The survey came to an unhappy end when the vast majority of the workers refused to cooperate in the study. Nevertheless, Weber‘s preparatory conceptual and statistical studies were acclaimed at the time as pathbreaking; they were indeed highly sophisticated, although they reflected the then current psychophysical approach to worker productivity. Weber‘s own attitude toward the often tedious tasks involved in social research is evident in his famous address, “Science as a Vocation,” in which he said, “No sociologist . . . should think himself too good, even in his old age, to make tens of thousands of quite trivial computations in his head and perhaps for months at a time” ( 1946, p. 135). Weber‘s own plans for encouraging social research in Germany remained unfulfilled. However, it is clear from the works reviewed in this article that there was no lack of historical precedents for his stress on the collection and analysis of empirical social data. Rewriting of the history of sociology to take full account of these precedents is a task that is long overdue.
Bernard LÉcuyer and
Anthony R. Oberschall
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SOCIOLOGY. While the discipline of sociology had its roots in nineteenth-century Europe, it enjoyed its greatest success in the United States during the academic golden age of the mid-twentieth century. Making a science of society was a distinctly modern exercise. Not only did it depend on a modern concept of empirical, experimental science, but it also presupposed "society" as a new object of study. How was one to name, classify, and analyze the forms of human experience in the aggregate—that is, if one sought to discern an aggregate form beyond relations of kin and distinguished from the apparatus of formal government? A kind of age-old ethnography had long enabled observers to comment on the traits of different peoples, usually by remarking on the exotic look and habits of aliens. Also, the idea of large cultural units or civilizations, usually wedded to imperial domains or great religions, such as Christendom, had a long history. Far less developed was the concept of an order to human relations apart from family, state, ethnicity, or belief that might become the basis for a comparative anatomy of differing communities. Modern notions of "economy" and "society" emerged to name such an order, as European colonial expansion, political revolution, and industrialization stirred consciousness of great change and variation in the form human relations could take. From the Scottish Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century to the universities of Wilhelmine Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century, the terms of economy and society were conjoined and contrasted in various ways. In large part, sociology matured as the second term became clearly differentiated from the first. Surprisingly, it was in the United States, where individualism and the pursuit of wealth seemed to reign supreme, that sociology as a study of the collective, noneconomic forms of human life found its most secure home.
The First Sociologists
Although historians cite the beginning of modern social sciences in the work of Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), the focus in his masterwork Leviathan (1651) on the formation and authority of the state denies him the title of the "first sociologist," which has been bestowed instead on the Scottish writer Adam Ferguson (1723–1816). Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) countered Hobbes in asserting that social sentiments—that is, desires to associate with others due to a dislike of solitude, sympathy with one's fellows and a desire for their esteem, or simple habit—were indeed as "natural" to individuals as their self-regarding appetites. Yet it was the French polymath Auguste Comte (1798–1857) who first used the term "sociology," in 1839 as part of his Course of Positive Philosophy and elaborated on its meaning in his System of Positive Polity (1851–1854).
Americans generally thought of "society" as the eighteenth-century Scottish writers had, recognizing social sentiments but still putting liberal ideas of individualism, progress, and market relations in the forefront. Comte's sociology was first adopted in the United States in 1854 by two writers venturing a principled defense of southern slavery, George Fitzhugh (1806–1881) in Sociology for the South and Henry Hughes (1829–1862) in Treatise on Sociology. Both of these authors contrasted slave society with "free society," for them virtually an oxymoron. Principles of individualism and equality, they wrote, eroded social organization as such. From Comte they borrowed the notion that "society" constituted a realm in itself, unified by sentiments concerned with the wellbeing of the whole and founded, like a family, on hierarchical norms in which superiors governed and cared for dependents incapable of self-rule. Just as Comte fell into obscurity for several decades after his death in 1857, the work of Fitzhugh and Hughes turned out to be a dead-end once the Civil War and the end of slavery made liberal principles all but universal in American society and culture.
American sociology was reborn in the 1880s under different circumstances and with different premises. When William Graham Sumner (1840–1910) began teaching the subject of sociology at Yale University, he relied on its individualistic British exponent Herbert Spencer (1820– 1903). In this view human evolution naturally led toward a modern world in which individuals were habituated to peaceful practices of exchange while the power of the state and coercive rule steadily declined. Hence, free will was rendered compatible with social order. This utopia of social order modeled on the ideal of a free market carried a decided moral meaning for Sumner, who insisted that self-sufficiency was the greatest obligation the individual bore toward society and that the plight of the pauper was the rightful consequence of dissipation. Sumner was challenged by a career civil servant, Lester Frank Ward (1841–1913), who brought Comtean principles back to the American scene by advocating an active state that nurtured the common welfare. According to Ward's 1883 book Dynamic Sociology, social evolution was to be guided by human intelligence rather than understood in naturalistic terms as a phenomenon impervious to will.
Beginnings of Academic Sociology
These early skirmishes over laissez-faire principles and social reform marked the prologue of institutionalized sociology in the United States. By the beginning of the twentieth century a new generation of intellectuals, coming of age amidst economic instability, industrial strife, and dramatic inequalities of wealth, was ready to combine a reforming spirit with the new repute of science in the emerging research universities. The American Social Science Association (ASSA), founded in 1865, represented an early effort to bring organized intelligence to bear on charitable activities concerned with social problems such as pauperism and crime. In 1885 a group of young American scholars, trained abroad in German universities and eager to see the state bring "social" values to bear on economic affairs, split off from the ASSA to establish the American Economic Association (AEA), the prototype for other specialized professional societies such as the American Political Science Association, founded in 1903. Sociology lagged behind. In 1893 the University of Chicago established the first American chair in sociology, awarded to the social gospel minister Albion Woodbury Small (1854–1926), and under Small's editorship the first issue of the American Journal of Sociology appeared in 1895. Ten years later, at the economists' professional meeting, Small and others founded their own organization, the American Sociological Society, later renamed the American Sociological Association (ASA).
Although these academic circles were composed almost entirely of men, women activists in settlement houses helped pioneer the disciplined study of urban and industrial affairs. The social surveys of immigrant neighborhoods conducted by Jane Addams (1860–1935) and her colleagues at Hull-House provided an early model of community research for the University of Chicago sociologists nearby. A few women devoted to studying social problems managed to forge a place in university life, such as Grace Abbott (1878–1939) and Sophonisba Breckin-ridge (1866–1948), also at the University of Chicago, though they were soon segregated from the male sociologists in a separate school of social work. Elsewhere, W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) made a distinctive contribution to the new styles of social research when his book The Philadelphia Negro (1899) demonstrated that "social" conditions, such as poverty and discrimination rather than inbred "racial" traits, accounted for regrettable features of crime and broken families among black slum dwellers.
The reformist mood of early academic social science was, however, quite modest and restrained. The middle-class reformers who entered the new academic social sciences typically recoiled from class struggle and wished instead to foster social peace by ameliorating conditions of deprivation, conflict, and misunderstanding. In any case conservative university administrators and trustees imposed strict limits on advocacy of social change. The prolabor activism of Ward's follower Edward A. Ross (1866–1951) led to Ross's forced resignation from Stanford University in 1900. Other early leaders in the field looked askance at social reform. Franklin Giddings (1855–1931), who assumed a chair in sociology at Columbia University two years after Small's appointment at Chicago, sought instead to frame truly "scientific" means of observation, data collection, and statistical measures for social facts. Nonetheless, Small regarded his Christian ideal of a harmonious society as thoroughly compatible with his aspirations for social science, and he persisted in seeing the discipline as an intimate partner to reformers in the field of social welfare. For years, many colleges in the United States used the term "sociology" for courses dealing with charities and corrections, thus carrying on the tradition of the ASSA.
A clearer differentiation of sociology from social welfare began in the 1910s and continued into the 1920s. The landmark study by W. I. Thomas (1863–1947) and Florian Znaniecki (1882–1958), The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918–1920), helped establish the characteristic disposition of Chicago's increasingly professionalized department: the study of change in the life of social groups, understood as a process of "social disorganization" (the loss of traditional norms) and "reorganization" (adaptation to modern life) experienced by recent immigrants from rural villages to the industrial city; a focus, informed by the philosophy of George Herbert Mead (1863–1931) and the "social psychology" of Charles Horton Cooley (1864–1929), on the individual's subjective interpretation of social situations as it emerged in his or her interactions with others; and consequently a style of urban research founded on participant observation, designed both to achieve empathy with the viewpoints of social actors and to map the terrain on which they encountered others, that is, social structure understood as an ecology of social groups. This approach was codified by the new leaders of Chicago sociology in the 1920s, Robert E. Park (1864–1944) and Ernest Burgess (1886– 1966), commencing a vibrant body of research on city neighborhoods, ethnicity and racial groups, and youth gangs and other phenomena, such as the lives of con men and prostitutes, on the margins of polite society.
As the "Chicago school" matured, another touchstone of American sociology was in the works. The community study Middletown (1929) by Robert S. Lynd (1892–1970) and Helen Merrell Lynd (1896–1982) examined work, family, religion, leisure, and civic life in Muncie, Indiana, under the stress of industrial development, class divisions, and modern transportation and communications. Robert Lynd went on to head the new Social Science Research Council (SSRC), begun with Rockefeller backing in 1923 to fund empirical research and promote scientific development through professional seminars on methodology. Before long, an early sign of government interest in sociology appeared in the publication of Recent Social Trends (1932), the work of a committee impaneled by President Herbert Hoover in the fall of 1929 but funded largely by the Rockefeller Foundation and the SSRC. Tellingly, the President's Research Committee on Social Trends was cochaired by an economist, Wesley C. Mitchell (1874–1948), and a political scientist, Charles E. Merriam (1874–1953), representing the more established social science disciplines. But its research was conducted under the leadership of bona fide sociologists, William F. Ogburn (1886–1959), who earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University and then went to Chicago, and Howard W. Odum (1884–1954), another Columbia graduate, who brought academic sociology to the University of North Carolina. Despite its testimony to public interest in sociological research, however, the committee's report was criticized sharply by other sociologists, who considered its dry record of numerical trends in divorce, urbanization, and rates of technological invention unilluminating and uninspired.
By 1928, ninety-nine American colleges and universities had departments of sociology, five times as many as in 1910, and forty-eight others had departments defined as "economics and sociology." In the next decade, sociology achieved a stronger professional footing despite limited prospects for growth during the Great Depression. The membership of the ASA fell drastically, but those who remained were more strictly academic in orientation. As these scholars chafed under the domination of Chicago's inbred sociology department, they demanded that the organization better represent the profession as a whole. Yet the field lacked the kind of unity and coherence customarily claimed by self-conscious professions, and widespread disagreements flourished on what it meant to build a science of society, as the dispute over Recent Social Trends suggested. A vigorous cohort of Columbia-bred sociologists spread throughout the country and pursued the ideal of an "objective" science of society in terms bequeathed to them by Giddings. Their ideal was based not on Chicago's intimate observation of groups, their interactions and their sentiments, but rather on statistical generalizations about the attributes and preferences of individuals, a project that flourished in time with the help of new techniques drawn from opinion polling and market research. Other competitors for disciplinary leadership included the pugnacious Luther L. Bernard (1881–1951), the advocate of an updated Comtean social realism.
The real problem of sociology, compared to fields like economics and political science, lay in uncertainty over the definition of its essential subject matter. Since the 1890s, sociology had been defined alternatively as a kind of master discipline offering a comprehensive vision of society and incorporating all other specialties or as a "residual" field covering issues and problems not addressed elsewhere, such as crime and family. In hopes of escaping this quandary, some figures in the 1930s renewed the attempt to build sociological theory out of traditions of social philosophy. Giddings's successor at the helm of Columbia's department, Robert MacIver (1882–1979), moved in this direction. So did the young Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) at Harvard University. The fact that neither of these figures had any prior training in established sociology departments showed how much the discipline was still, during the 1930s, a work in progress.
Harvard had taught sociology in association with economic history and philanthropic "social ethics," moving to found its own department only in 1931 under the leadership of Pitirim Sorokin (1889–1968), a Russian émigré and author of the compendium Contemporary Sociological Theories (1928). In contrast to Sorokin's urge to classify the many variants of theory that composed the field, Parsons believed that a scientific discipline rightly had only one theory, a founding charter established by the synthesis of tendencies formerly at odds with each other. Parsons had been introduced to the social sciences by disciples of the dissenting economist Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929) and knew little of Chicago's or Columbia's sociological traditions. In his early masterwork, The Structure of Social Action (1937), Parsons portrayed a dawning convergence among exponents of English, French, German, and Italian social thought that overcame the customary divide between "positivist" or empiricist approaches to discovering objective social laws and "idealist" traditions that stressed the unpredictable force of human consciousness and will. But Parsons's synthesis also attempted to get beyond the social "realism" of a Comtean like Bernard and the "nominalist" position of the Giddings school, for whom society was merely a convenient term for an aggregate of individuals. Parsons sought to define "society" as something quite real, even if not a concrete entity in its own right. It was to be understood as an aspect of human experience that, strictly speaking, could be isolated only for the convenience of analysis, namely that element of human action that assured social order primarily by virtue of an integrated set of values held in common by a body of actors.
The Heyday of American Sociology
Parsons was important to the development of American sociology for a number of reasons. Having built his theoretical convergence largely on the work of Emile Durkheim (1858–1918), Max Weber (1864–1920), and Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), Parsons played a crucial role in drawing grand traditions of European social thought into the American milieu. Parsons's synthetic disposition also led him to promote the realignment of sociology with cultural anthropology and social psychology, a tripartite arrangement realized in a new, interdisciplinary department of social relations begun at Harvard in 1946. The result was a clearer definition of sociology's subject matter, the social realm, than the discipline had ever had before. In Parsons's hands, sociology moved away from close associations with the older, dominant fields of economics and political science. Its special concern was those institutions, such as families, schools, churches, neighborhoods, small groups, organizations, and occupations. In these milieus of association and interaction, scholars could see the formation of personalities, roles, values, orientations, perceptions of reality, sentiments of solidarity, and the like. In this way was everyday behavior shaped and social unity fostered. And in these terms sociology defined the essential "structure" of a society, the patterns of behavior that gave it a unique order and disposition distinct from that of other societies, thus permitting a comparative anatomy of societies.
The immediate post–World War II decades marked the heyday of American sociology. Young scholars entering the academy in the 1940s and 1950s, often of immigrant, wartime émigré, and left-wing backgrounds, helped fuel the field's growth. At the same time, funding increased dramatically from private philanthropies. While Rockefeller funds had dominated in the 1920s and 1930s, now the Ford and Carnegie foundations made large contributions. By the 1960s, government sources offered support from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Defense Department, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The field's infrastructure developed as large-scale survey-research centers at Columbia, Chicago, and Michigan, supported by grants and contracts, provided both jobs and masses of data.
Meanwhile, works such as Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944), David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd (1950), and William Whyte's The Organization Man (1956) garnered popular attention for sociology. Ideas cultivated by sociology along with cultural anthropology and social psychology regarding the "culture of poverty," "deviance" and opportunity structures, as well as schooling and race became part and parcel of public debate, policy formation, and presidential speeches in the era of desegregation and the war on poverty. Sociology became an ever more popular field for students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, attracting many of the young dissenters who populated campuses in the 1960s and 1970s. As American universities boomed in size, the ASA continued to grow. By 1972 its peak of 15,000 members represented a tenfold gain over its interwar membership. With this kind of growth, American sociology overshadowed developments in the European countries that were sources of the classics in modern social theory, and European thinkers concluded they had to come to terms with American standards in sociological theory as well as empirical methods.
Despite the common impression that Parsons's "structural-functional" theory of the 1950s represented the prevailing paradigm of postwar sociology, the discipline in fact was never so unified that it rested on a single coherent theoretical foundation. The landmark works in empirical sociology during the postwar period, many of them by the Austrian émigré Paul Lazarsfeld (1901–1976) of Columbia's Bureau of Applied Social Research and the students he trained there, rested on refinements of survey and statistical techniques, assisted by computerized data processing, with no special relation to the kind of abstract theory cultivated by Parsons. Also competing with Parsons's theory was the more modest, "middle-range" view of functional analysis promoted by his student Robert K. Merton (b. 1910), a method intended to discover how different parts of society, its institutions and organizations, worked together and influenced each other without presuming that they all meshed neatly in a harmonious whole. Furthermore, reputable theorists such as Lewis Coser (b. 1913) and Reinhard Bendix (1916–1991) challenged the priority Parsons gave to the problem of social order and his insistence that order required normative consensus.
Outside of functionalism per se, Herbert Blumer (1900–1987) codified the social psychology of the old Chicago school in the theoretical current called "symbolic interactionism," and practitioners of Chicago-style investigations of urban communities continued to produce some lively literature, such as Tally's Corner (1967) by Elliot Liebow (1925–1994). Other derivatives of interactionism flourished, such as the "dramaturgical" view of roles and rituals in everyday life developed by Erving Goffman (1922–1982) and the iconoclastic "labeling" theory of deviance by Howard S. Becker (b. 1928). More ambitious forays to mount full-bore challenges to Parsonsian and Mertonian functionalism, emerging from 1959 to 1966, included the critical sociology of C. Wright Mills (1916–1962), the historical sociology of Barrington Moore (b. 1913), and the individualistic "social exchange" theory of George Homans (1910–1989). Mills in particular criticized the division of sociology between what he regarded as vacuous "grand theory" (like Parsons's) and "abstracted empiricism" (like Lazarsfeld's work), insisting instead that sociologists must draw on a large canvas the social trends that mark "the salient characteristics of their time—and the problem of how history is being made within it" (Mills, p. 165). Similarly, though without Mills's radical intent, Daniel Bell (b. 1919) defined his own work as "sociography," an attempt to delineate the general form and dynamics of contemporary social life. His influential portrait of the present and the near future is The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973).
The Mainstream Assailed
Despite the robust appearance of American sociology, it soon encountered a social, political, and intellectual crisis spawned by protest movements in the 1960s and the accompanying revival of radicalism in academic life. Like all the social science and humanist disciplines, established sociology was criticized, mainly by young graduate students, for having provided an essentially conservative ideological rationale for the status quo. In particular, they charged, the functionalist focus on mechanisms of social order obscured the significance of conflict in social life; applauded conformity with social expectations instead of dissent, deviance, and disruption; suggested that the plight of the poor stemmed from their failure to adequately adapt to normative roles rather than from the exploitative and coercive structure of inequitable social relations; and masked the privilege and bias of sociologists themselves under a false ideal of "value-free" science. The most telling criticism aimed at postwar sociology was that the very disposition that gave sociology its own distinctive "social" province, apart from economics and political science, had denied it the ability to recognize the extent to which American society was governed by punitive inequalities in the distribution and uses of wealth and power.
The charge of entrenched conservatism, vigorously advanced by Alvin Gouldner (1920–1981) in The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology (1970), misfired in some respects. Parsons, for one, was a liberal Democrat, and his work had emerged just when the rise of welfare states in western Europe (and more modestly in the United States in the New Deal and the Fair Deal) justified a theory that defined distinctly social needs apart from the imperatives of market economics. Indeed, American functionalism, in one form or another, found welcome abroad in Social-Democratic Sweden. Yet it was precisely the modern liberal (welfare-state) assumptions in postwar sociology combined with the anticommunist biases that governed all academic life during the Cold War era that gave social science its deep confidence in the progressive virtues of contemporary American life, including the view, characteristic of "modernization theory," that American society represented the future for all other, less-developed societies. Hence, it refrained from confronting the forms of inequality and injustice that had long shaped the development of the United States.
Consequently, the 1970s witnessed a flurry of studies dealing with the fault lines of American life. In work by William Julius Wilson (b. 1935) and other new black sociologists, racial cleavages were studied more in terms of political economy than in terms of cultural attitudes. In a revival of Marxism, the meaning of class was studied empirically by writers like Michael Burawoy (b. 1947) and theoretically by Erik Olin Wright (b. 1947), among others. Such concerns with race and class were wedded to issues of gender raised by the revival offeminism, yielding sensitive and highly partisan ethnographies, like the study of black women on welfare by Carol B. Stack (b. 1940), All Our Kin (1974), which rejected all "blame the victim" scenarios of poverty and family dysfunction.
The number of works on women's status from a feminist standpoint grew through the 1970s and 1980s and included studies of how gender distinctions between men and women are socially maintained, such as the widely read psychoanalytic account by Nancy Chodorow (b. 1944), The Reproduction of Mothering (1978). Although several women had earlier achieved distinction, such as Jessie Bernard (1903–1996), Mirra Komarovsky (1906–1999), Rose Laub Coser (1916–1994), Alice Rossi (b. 1922), and Renée Fox (b. 1928), men dominated sociology in its heyday. Beginning in the 1970s, the number of women practitioners increased dramatically, though sociology proved more reluctant than other social science disciplines, particularly anthropology, to revise its general theoretical concepts in the face of feminist criticism, some observers claimed. Paradoxically, the fact that sociology had long recognized a place for studies of women, namely in family dynamics, "ghettoized" such concerns and thus inhibited the understanding that gender inequities were bound up with all aspects of social life. The initiation of the journal Gender and Society in 1987 marked an attempt to enforce that broader view of the problem.
Sociology in Distress
At the same time, the fall of functionalism from its pedestal made it seem that sociology, lacking paradigmatic unity, was cast adrift in search of new moorings. Various signs pointed to disciplinary distress. Having enjoyed spectacular growth in the late 1960s, sociology suffered a substantial decline, starting shortly after 1970, in ASA membership and the number of degrees granted. Continued specialization also led many practitioners in the 1980s to lament the fragmentation of their field. The ASA recognized thirty-nine "sections" or research specialties, which included topical concerns as well as distinctive methodologies, ranging from traditional subfields, such as criminology and family, to newer matters, such as comparative and historical sociology, mathematical sociology, Asia and Asian America, aging and the life course, and more.
Highlighting the absence of theoretical consensus, several dynamic intellectual currents during the 1980s and 1990s moved in sharply divergent directions and implied a flight from the discipline's traditional concerns and assumptions. Sociobiology attacked the longstanding assumption that social environment shaped personality, behavior, and social relations more decisively than innate, hereditary traits did. The Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson made sociobiology's first coherent statement in 1975, and the study blossomed by the 1990s along with new studies aiming to isolate genetic sources of behavioral dispositions, such as aggression, sexual promiscuity, and the like. The rise of "rational choice" perspectives in sociology, adopting from economics the principles of methodological individualism, utility optimization, and game theory, reached a new height with the founding of the journal Rationality and Society in 1989 and the 1990 publication of Foundations of Social Theory by James S. Coleman (1926– 1995). Urging an understanding of most social processes as the consequences of actions by individuals seeking to maximize some interests of their own, rational choice renewed the old "nominalist" hostility to notions of society as a reality sui generis.
Meanwhile, another group of sociologists more critical of their society, their discipline, and the discipline's claims to scientific status embraced the disposition known as postmodernism. They emphasized the "social construction" (the historicized, subjective, and social character) of all categories used to grasp reality; regarded modern life as the staging ground for varied techniques of controlling and regimenting unruly people and behaviors; denied that the shape of social life could be understood as "centered" on any essential principles or fully integrated in an overarching whole; and insisted that social action and social change be understood as highly localized, incompletely organized or bounded, strained by contradictory impulses, and largely unpredictable. Such a skeptical view, though antagonistic to rational choice and sociobiology, seemed to share with them a common suspicion of "society" as an entity or structure in its own right. Indeed, "general social theory," which aims to understand societies as wholes and to integrate different dimensions of social life, such as economics, social institutions, politics, and culture, in one view, steadily lost appeal within the discipline.
Other signs also suggested that sociology had entered an era of danger if not disintegration. With the turn to the right in American politics around 1980 and the consequent decline in funding for sociological research geared to public policy and social services, sociologists felt under siege. Sociology departments were eliminated at a few universities. Even the department at Yale University, the home of Sumner and his disciples, was almost closed. Public reception of sociology by this point, strikingly different from the 1950s and 1960s, often appeared hostile. Newspapers were more likely to mock arcane jargon or to assail left-wing biases in ASA proceedings than to seek expert sociological comment on social problems.
Prospects at the End of the Twentieth Century
Nevertheless, graduate student enrollment in the field rebounded in the 1990s, and by the end of the decade, the number of graduate students studying sociology nearly equaled those studying economics. At the same time, while the perennial problems of sociological theory remained unresolved—how to understand the relation between individual and community, how to assess the significance in social action of objective "interests" and subjective "meanings," or whether the field ought to define itself as a scientific or moral discourse—American sociologists continued to generate and develop new techniques, methods, and theories, including sophisticated approaches to understanding social networks, processes of interaction, and dynamic change. Many of these were highly mathematized, others were more historical and ethnographic. However specialized and sophisticated the field had become, a number of sociologists still addressed a broadly educated audience in books concerning "social problems," such as work, immigration, racism, gender inequality, poverty, and homelessness.
By the end of the century, some elder statesmen, such as Neil J. Smelser (b. 1930), director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, greeted late developments of the field with equanimity. Laments over the fragmentation of sociology as a discipline, Smelser suggested, tended to exaggerate the field's unity and coherence at earlier points in its history. In any case, internal specialization, marking off distinct subfields of expertise, inevitably accompanies the growth of a discipline. Smelser pointed out how changes in human organization have challenged the traditional identification of "society" as a unit with the nation-state. New sensitivity was required to both "supranational" and "subnational" phenomena, such as "globalization," racial and ethnic identities, migrations, and community formation and dissolution. He recognized that these factors injected a new complexity to social experience and denied the existence of neatly bounded social units, but he also argued that they made the integrative capacity of general social theory more rather than less urgent if sociological understanding were to advance.
Generally, at the end of the twentieth century, sociologists tended to move away from overarching, architectonic notions of social structure, the metaphor of society as a kind of building, with many levels and rooms configured in a fixed pattern, among which people move and dwell. Instead, they favored more flexible models highlighting purposive action by individuals and groups, processes of interaction, the historical formation and ongoing transformation of social relations in a ceaseless flux, which can never be reduced to a simple story of progressive development. Yet, while these new emphases highlight the active, flexible, complex, and unfinished character of human social behavior, structures of inequality in wealth and power indeed seemed to be deeply entrenched features of the contemporary world. The question had become whether or not the new disposition can contribute to understanding these inequalities and can support efforts to change those forms in hopes of creating a better society, another longstanding aspiration of many modern social theorists.
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COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group Inc.
Commonly accepted definitions of sociology agree that it is the scientific or systematic study of human society. The focus is on understanding and explaining, and ranges from the individual in social interaction to groups to societies and global social processes. Unique to sociology is its emphasis upon the reciprocal relationship between individuals and societies as they influence and shape each other.
Methods of discovery range from quantitative methodologies patterned after those of natural science with the goals of explanation and prediction to strategies for social reform and service to qualitative methodologies that focus on interpretation and understanding rather than prediction.
As a discipline, sociology arose early in the nineteenth century in response to rapid social change. Major transformations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as rapid industrialization resulting in a large, anonymous workforce with workers spending most of their time away from families and traditions; large-scale urbanization throughout Europe and the industrializing world; and a political revolution of new ideas (individual rights and democracy), directed a spotlight on the nature of societies and social change.
The French social thinker Auguste Comte (1798–1857) first coined the term sociology to describe a new way of thinking about societies as systems governed by principles of organization and change. Most agree that Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), the French sociologist, made the largest contribution to the emergence of sociology as a social scientific discipline. Both empirical research—collecting and quantifying social data—and abstract conceptions of society were major elements of Durkheim’s research. Durkheim’s work had a major, early impact on the discipline, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries two more of the giants in sociological thought emerged in mainstream German sociology: Max Weber (1864–1920) and Georg Simmel (1858–1918). Additionally, Karl Marx (1818–1883), while on the edge of sociology, had a major impact on German sociology and on the discipline as a whole. Marx was concerned with the oppressiveness that resulted from industrialization and the capitalist system rather than the disorder to which other social thinkers were reacting. Advocating revolution as the only means to end the inequality between the controlling bourgeoisie class and the exploited proletariat class created by the new industrialized society, Marx produced much of his work while in exile from his native Germany (Marx and Engels  1967). His writing provides a continuous strand of sociological theory, heavily influential in Europe and, at times, in the United States. The importance of Marx’s work in shaping early sociology also lies in how German sociology developed in opposition to Marxist theory (Ritzer 2000).
Weber’s concern with ideas and systems of ideas (particularly religious ideas) and their effect on a capitalist economic system—specifically with Protestantism as a belief system that encouraged its members to embrace change—contrasts with Marx’s reflection of the economy in ideas. Simmel’s influence on sociology, unlike that of Marx and Weber, was through his studies of small-scale social phenomena. Focusing on forms of social interaction and types of actors who interact, his work was most influential on early sociologists at the University of Chicago.
In response to the poverty of immigrants and African Americans in the urban United States, projects of social reform and settlement house movements provided solutions. Much of this work was based in Chicago, where early social reformers and social thinkers combined to conduct field research and organize the first major sociology department at the University of Chicago. The sociology department, founded by Albion Small (who also founded the first sociology journal in the United States, the American Journal of Sociology, in 1895) dominated the discipline for fifty years. American students of sociology had easy access to Simmel’s ideas, which fit with the micro, symbolic interactionist perspective, through his followers (and, in some cases, translators) Small and Robert Park.
During the early years of sociology in the United States, theoretical influences of the period were combined with empirical research and the social reform projects and service conducted in the Chicago area. Trained as a social worker, Jane Addams spoke out about the inhumane treatment of immigrants who were entering the United States at increasingly higher rates. She founded Hull House in Chicago to provide assistance to immigrant families and gathered a community of sociologists and politicians to discuss and act on urban problems. W. E. B. Du Bois, an African American sociologist at Atlanta University, studied similar social problems for the black community in the United States and wrote and spoke out against racial inequality.
Symbolic interactionism, the dominant perspective championed by the philosopher George Herbert Mead (1863–1931) and others influenced by Simmel at the Chicago school, was the first foundation theory in American sociology. Although the symbolic interactionist perspective emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between the individual and society, its critics complain that it overlooks the widespread effects of culture and important sociological factors such as race, class, and gender.
In the 1930s, as the influence of the Chicago school lessened, state universities throughout the midwestern United States began to incorporate sociology departments into their curriculum, with a strong focus on rural sociology. In the 1940s the emphasis in sociology shifted away from the type of descriptive research done at Chicago to sociological theory and empirical inquiry, with the rise of influence from departments at Columbia, Harvard, and other Ivy League universities. European theorists such as Durkheim and Weber were translated and (re)introduced, and their work inspired large growth in sociological theory, particularly structural functionalism, the dominant theory in American sociology until the 1960s.
Another foundation theory within sociology, the structural functional paradigm provides a view of society as a complex system of parts working together to promote both solidarity and stability for society as a whole. This perspective owes much to Comte and his concern for social integration during the rapid social change of the period. While Comte advocated social reform, in Britain the social philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) rejected social reform as intervention in the natural process of the evolution of society. Applying the principle of “the survival of the fittest” to the adaptation of societies rather than of organisms, Spencer’s ideas initially gained a large following throughout England and the United States.
Functionalists, following Durkheim, emphasized the study of social order and how social reforms could provide remedies for social disorder. Social structures (relatively stable patterns of social behavior) function together to preserve society. In the United States, Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) at Harvard was the primary proponent of the structural functionalism theory that dominated American sociology until the 1960s. A student of Parsons’s, Robert K. Merton (1910–2003) distinguished between manifest and latent functions of social structures, while allowing that there are also societal social dysfunctions for some. The influence of structural functionalism has declined since the 1960s with criticism for its focus on stability and static structures, its inability to deal with social change, and its failure to acknowledge how inequalities based on social class, race and ethnicity, and gender may lead to tension and conflict.
Following World War II the strong influence of sociological theory championed by Parsons and others concerned with the prestige of the discipline continued. Quantitative data methods were seen as the best way of making the discipline more professional and increasing prestige. Demography and survey research became more important with the availability of governmental funds for financing large research projects. Major advances in quantitative research eventually led to a variety of formal analyses for survey data, including multivariate statistics, path analysis, multiple regression, and complex causal models. In the late 1950s, however, traditional sociology came under attack for its preoccupation with theory and empiricism. The 1960s also brought challenges from field researchers and reformers to focus more on social problems.
Social conflict theory is, in many ways, a reaction to the structural functionalist perspective. The social inequality pervasive in society and ignored by structural functionalists is seen as a source of conflict and change. Conflict theory examines how society is stratified along class, race and ethnicity, gender, and age categories, and how these categories are linked to the unequal distribution of resources. Patterns of social interaction are inherent with benefits for some and deprivations for others. The goal for conflict theory is to understand the conflict between the advantaged and the disadvantaged while also taking action to reduce inequality. The perspective is certainly influenced by Marx, although critics complain that it does not have a firm enough grounding in Marxism, which was well developed in European sociology but lacked support and understanding in the United States. Critics of the social conflict perspective also complain that its pursuit of political goals shows a lack of scientific objectivity—although this theory had significant influence on contemporary theories, such as feminist theory, which emphasize the importance of political goals.
Sociology since the 1960s has expanded its emphasis to focus more on questions of race and ethnicity and gender. There has also been an incorporation of professional fields such as criminology, industrial relations, and evaluation research. In the 1990s and 2000s a variety of new areas and topics achieved prominence in American sociology: economic sociology; nongovernmental organizations having to do with justice, human rights, the arts, and the environment; immigration and ethnic identities; inequality; the growth and influence of science and technology; and social capital as resources for social mobility, citizenship, and community participation.
Micro and macro refer to the level of analysis or the area of theoretical concern. Microsociology is the study of group dynamics and interaction, whereas macrosociology focuses on large-scale social systems and institutional arrangements. One controversy about the level of analysis was often phrased as a discussion of whether phenomena could be reduced to individual level properties or whether, instead, phenomena must be viewed in terms of their “emergent” properties that do not coincide with simply aggregating the individual level. While some formulations still allude to this controversy, it is common for researchers to attempt linkages between the micro and macro by viewing the effects of one on the other.
Macrosociology At the macro level sociologists ask, what are the broad patterns of interaction that shape society as a whole, and how does this influence take place? The most common institutions, found in most societies and most often studied by sociologists, are the following five:
The family, which meets the needs of societal replenishment and the care and socialization of children. At the macrolevel, sociologists ask how the definition of family is changing and how that affects the larger society.
Education, which meets the need for the transmission of culture and social and job skills. Sociologists ask how the educational system varies across cultures and nations, how it both mirrors and perpetuates the inequality in society.
Religion, a third institution, which meets the need for explanations of the unknown. Sociologists are concerned with why religions take various forms and how religious activity affects society.
The economy, which organizes the distribution of goods and services and is a focus for sociology because it determines who—individuals, organizations, nations—gets what—resources and access to resources in nations and globally.
Politics (or “the polity,” or government), which is also a participant in the distribution of power as well as the maintenance of order. Sociology looks at how the world’s political systems vary, who has power and why, and whether there is a global political system.
Both within and outside the context of social institutions, sociologists explore why stratification (systems of ranking into power and prestige hierarchies) exists and how it determines individual societal outcomes. How do social class divisions (based on economic position in society) affect culture, opportunities, and social mobility? What is poverty and who are the poor? Why does inequality exist and how might it be overcome?
A current trend in sociological thought has to do with the process of globalization. Rapid changes in communication and transportation have transformed perceptions of time and space so that the world of personal experience is a global one. Sociologists ask how economic change has taken place, what is a global economy, and what are the implications of globalization? How is economic globalization connected to political development? As political boundaries change, how are cultural boundaries affected? How do local cultures conflict with an emerging global culture and what is the place of women and people of color in that relationship?
Microsociology Many different areas are investigated within microsociology from different perspectives using different methodologies. Microsociology can be broadly conceptualized as considering issues related to self and identity, status and power, cooperation and competition, exchange, legitimation, and justice.
Fundamental to most areas within microsociology is the insight that individuals define themselves, based in large part on how others see and interact with them. Because interaction is central to the self, different identities are developed and projected. Research in the general area of identity and self includes both qualitative and quantitative investigations of topics such as role taking, role making, altercasting, identity disruptions or deflections, and self-referent behavior.
Much of microsociology is related to the general area of group dynamics. This area had early ties with psychology, which fashioned much of its approach including the acceptance and use of experiments as a research tool. Status and power have been consistently important areas of work within microsociology. One of the most important insights from this line of research is that status is relative to the group; that is, while people might possess the same characteristic from one setting to another, these characteristics might have very different salience in different settings.
Other group-dynamics research included a wide range of studies that could be characterized as examining cooperation and competition. While many of these examined dyads and interaction between one group and another, others examined social dilemmas—settings in which there is some degree of conflict between individual and group interests. Once resources and incentives are under consideration, exchange becomes central. Exchange formulations, some more akin to economics and others more akin to psychology, developed and took on a distinctly sociological focus by examining how the type of exchange affected both the behavior and emotion of the exchange participants. The allocation of different resources is studied within exchange formulations, and the resulting assessments, behavior, and feelings of fairness are the focus of justice and equity formulations. Related to assessment of justice is the degree of acceptance of particular institutional arrangements or legitimation.
Ethnomethodology, or method of the people, is a type of microsociology that focuses upon the everyday practices in which people engage. This field differs from most other microsociologies by eschewing the use of abstraction to summarize observations.
Reacting against the dominant paradigm that seemed to take a male, Western European, heterosexual model of the actor as representative of all actors, various critiques developed within sociology. These critiques are extremely varied both in their focus and methodology, but perhaps the most well known were feminist critiques. Although there had been early sociological analysis of the subordination of women (Ward 1883), most of the feminist analyses of sex and gender coincided with what is usually called the second wave of feminism, dating from the 1960s. During this period there was also increased attention to race and ethnicity.
Many of the sociological feminist writings emphasized the subordination of women and the institutionalization of patriarchy. Some of this work questioned the sex and gender association and sexual categorizations as well. One branch of this developed into “queer theory,” a critique of heterosexual assumptions and power.
For the most part, feminist and other critical approaches did not question the fundamental approaches to the study of sociological phenomena. Rather, the feminist literature emphasized substantive issues that centered on societal power differentials that lead to a wide variety of life experiences that constrain almost every aspect of women’s lives. Another literature emphasized how “taken for granted” assumptions of gender and sex affected what observers saw and how they interpreted it. However, there was another group of feminists who challenged traditional epistemologies and argued that who the observer was determined what could be known. This is a radical claim because it violates a traditionally accepted tenet of most sciences that intersubjectivity can be obtained: that different people can be taught to see what others can see.
Postmodernism Sometimes closely aligned with feminist critiques are postmodern critiques. These critiques emerged in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Postmodernism is a set of sensitizing concepts and ideas rather than a well-developed and agreed-upon set of premises. These concepts challenge traditional views associated with the Enlightenment. In particular, the concepts of objectivity, the transparency of language, and the separation between science and politics are questioned. Postmodern critique has been important across most of the social sciences and the humanities, alerting sociologists to how the political becomes enmeshed in the way questions are asked and subsequently answered. Along with this is attention to grand “narratives,” or ways of telling particular types of stories. From this perspective, science is one type of narrative and does not necessarily have a status different from other types of narratives such as folklore. The emphasis is upon how scientists come to believe what they believe. Some particularly radical versions of postmodernism suggest that empirical reality has little effect upon the development and testing of theories.
There is a continuing debate within sociology about the proper role of sociologists. This debate echoes questions that have always been associated with sociology: Are sociologists scientists? Are sociologists advocates and reformers? Are sociologists scholars who practice a social science, whose methodology differs from that of the natural sciences?
Because sociologists vary in their orientation, their perceived and expressed views also vary. There are some who steadfastly claim that sociologists should not become involved in political agendas or arguments lest they jeopardize their dedication and reputation for being oriented toward the truth rather than toward advocacy. There are others who argue that the subject matter of sociology dictates that sociologists become involved in providing information that reflects upon different policy initiatives. This approach separates advocacy for a particular position from provision of information. Still others argue that sociologists should be advocates for particular policies, given sociological evidence. An example of such advocacy was the American Sociological Association’s filing of a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the University of Michigan Law School and the Student Intervenors in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). In this case, the Association argued that sociological research clearly and consistently documented the pervasiveness of race in life experience such that universities cannot adequately assess candidates or their potential without considering it.
Decisions about the role of sociologists are frequently contested among sociologists themselves—a clear indication that perspectives, methods, and approaches vary considerably. However, because these contestations are often in public sociological forums, it is also a demonstration of the tolerance, or at least acceptance, of the variability within the discipline.
SEE ALSO Groups; Methodology; Norms; Parsons, Talcott; Social Science; Social Theory
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Kathy J. Kuipers
COPYRIGHT 2008 Thomson Gale
Although it may be argued that all the sciences can trace their roots in some measure or other to religion inasmuch as religion dominated institutional scholarship well into the nineteenth century, sociology is unique in that its formal origin was actually cast in the context of a new putatively religious movement. The term sociology was coined by Auguste Comte in his Cours de philosophie positive (1830–1842); for Comte la sociologie was nothing less than the capstone of the new religion of positivism, replacing older theological or philosophical principles for social organization with those of science. Sociologists were to be nothing less than the "high priests" of this new moral order. The coining of a term does not a science make, however, and the fact that "sociology" received relatively quick and widespread acceptance among diverse constituencies suggests that Comte created an acceptable label for an intellectual movement that was already in process in the nineteenth century—namely, the two-fold premise that human social behavior could be studied with the same investigative canons that are applied to other "natural" phenomena and that human social behavior was irreducible to psychological or biophysical explanations.
Although the explicitly religious expression given to sociology went with Comte to his grave, virtually all of the leading lights of early sociology devoted considerable attention to aspects of religious life—what religion is, how it works, how it came into being, why it persists or recedes. These questions were among the most burning that early sociologists confronted. Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, Herbert Spencer, and others whose work spanned the transition from the nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries tried to comprehend the role of religion within the larger sociocultural setting that makes human existence possible. Each realized that religion was a uniquely human experience, without any analog in the animal world, that, in the past at least, seemed to have had a controlling effect on the way people lived.
These early sociologists provided different images of religion, raising different kinds of questions. Through these images, however, runs a single theme—religion and social change. Marx throughout his work saw religion as a significant part of structural systems of oppression. Durkheim in his crucial work The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, published in 1912 at the culmination of his career, saw religion maintaining social order or equilibrium. Weber, in a brilliant series of essays known as The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (originally published serially in German from 1904 to 1905, and issued in English as a single volume in 1930), saw religion as a vehicle for enabling social change.
Sociology in America: the early years
Although the roots of sociology are certainly European, the discipline came to fullest flower in the United States. Its course was by no means singular. The first book to use the word in its title was the Treatise on Sociology (1854) by the apologist for slavery Henry Hughes, who with George Fitzhugh and Stephen Pearl Andrews attempted to formulate an American sociology according to a peculiar reading of Comte that would hardly be recognizable by anyone in the field today. The Confederate loss of the American Civil War and Hughes's death in it largely ended this line of development. Of much more sustained influence were the writings of Herbert Spencer, and it was William Graham Sumner, a Spencerian, who taught the first course in sociology ever offered in the United States at Yale in 1876. Sumner, who was ordained within the Episcopal Church (though he apparently did not officiate once at Yale), was an enormously popular professor: "no one was supposed to have 'done' Yale as a gentleman should," Albion Small recorded in 1916, "without having taken at least one course with 'Billy' Sumner" (p. 732).
A further influence was that of Christian sociology, an American variant of British Christian socialism. Explicitly introduced by J. H. W. Stuckenberg's Christian Sociology (1880), the Christian sociology movement experienced a groundswell of interest in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, particularly through the Chautauqua movement and "summer schools" at Oberlin College in Ohio and Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. Christian sociology might well have become the dominant mode in America society had it not been for a series of circumstances, ironically arising out of this very movement, that led to Albion Small establishing the first free-standing department of sociology in the United States at the University of Chicago in 1893.
Brought to Chicago by Chautauqua-inspired, Rockefeller-funded William Rainey Harper, Small walked a series of tightropes to shape a distinctive American sociology. First, he courted Lester Frank Ward, termed by Samuel Chugerman in his 1939 biography "the American Aristotle," in many ways the first American sociologist in his own right, who only late in his life received a university connection (at Brown University in Rhode Island). Ward was important to Small because Ward offered a Comtean alternative to the proslavery apologists that at the same time moved away from Sumner's exposition of Spencer's evolutionism—although there were, in fact, connections between Ward and Spencer through the Unitarian theologian M. J. Savage. Second, in what may well have been his most important single institutional step, Small founded the American Journal of Sociology in 1895, which became his personal implement for the operational definition of sociology in America and the invention of its history. Third, Small simultaneously courted and distanced himself from Christian sociology by enlisting the liberal University of Chicago theologian Shailer Matthews to write a series of articles in the first issues of this new journal, which effectively redefined Christian sociology to exclude the positions of the most ardent advocates of Christian sociology. Fourth, he built an empirical sociological style that came to define American sociology for the first half of the twentieth century: sociology of the Chicago School.
In addition to a large collection of volumes dealing with a variety of issues generated by the burgeoning urban life of Chicago, the Chicago School also initiated a distinct American theoretical approach, most generally known as symbolic interactionism, through the work particularly of George Herbert Mead, William Isaac Thomas, and Charles Horton Cooley. Although symbolic interactionism has become a diversified cluster of approaches, associated with universities where its different proponents have settled, the perspective continues to find its roots in the work of these scholars and has been revivified in social constructionist or situationalist theories among contemporary sociologists.
American sociology: tradition and transitions
By the end of World War II, American sociology dominated the profession throughout the world. In many respects, American sociology was sociology. World War I wreaked havoc among European sociologists. A number of the most promising young French sociologists were killed in the war, and Durkheim, Simmel, and Weber died of natural causes within three years of each other at the end of the war. The Great Depression, followed by the next war and the Nazi pogroms of the Jews, largely devastated the European intellectual currents most sympathetic to sociological scholarship. Some of those scholars managed to escape to the United States from the ravages of fascism and became part of the movement toward American dominance of the field.
During this period, American sociology sought to distance itself further not merely from religion, but from applied concerns in general. The social conditions of the depression followed by the exigencies of war made glib social pronouncements vacuous, while increasing the demand for "hard data" upon which to devise and implement programs for change. The depression and World War II served to underwrite empiricism, as various funding agencies poured money into research. Though not necessarily in agreement themselves, figures such as Harry Elmer Barnes, Luther L. Bernard, F. Stuart Chapin, William Fielding Ogburn, and especially George Lundberg, who answered his rhetorical soteriological query Can Science Save Us? (1947) with unfettered assurance, nevertheless produced a more rigorously empirical discipline, with little use for higher-order analyses. Under Samuel Stouffer, a multivolume American Soldier series beginning in 1949 was produced, innovations were made in content analysis through captured enemy documents, and Paul Lazarsfeld led studies at Columbia, a historic center of sociological empiricism, on the effects on public opinion of radio propaganda.
Small died in 1926, and his mantle at Chicago fell to Robert E. Park. Although Park is arguably more distinguished than Small in his lasting intellectual contributions, times had changed sufficiently—in part a testimony to the success of Small's enterprise—so that a single institution could not expect to exercise the kind of disciplinary hegemony that Small had managed to effect at the turn of the century. The final sign of the dehegemonization of the Chicago School was the establishment of the American Sociological Review as the "official journal" of the American Sociological Society (now the American Sociological Association, hence ASA) in 1935. The American Journal of Sociology continues to be published, and vies with the American Sociological Review in various ranking systems for the "most important" in the profession.
The Chicago School was by no means out of touch with the profession, however, and in the 1930s brought a young, European-educated Harvard professor named Talcott Parsons to discuss the role of theory in research. Later, Chicago would bring Parsons's sometime coauthor Edward Shils to its faculty. Revisioning the field and in so doing founding Harvard's Department of Social Relations, Parsons's functionalism, a unique attempt to merge Durkheim and Weber, came to dominate American sociology for the larger part of two decades, reaching its quintessence in Kingsley Davis's triumphalist presidential address to the ASA in 1959: "The Myth of Functional Analysis as a Special Method in Sociology and Anthropology." Moreover, a friendship that grew between Parsons's former student Robert K. Merton and Paul Lazarsfeld as they both served on the Columbia faculty (1954) did much to heal the rift between empirical and theoretical sociological styles.
In that process, Talcott Parsons—particularly, but certainly not only, as the translator of the Protestant ethic essays—also "brought religion back in" as a field for sociological inquiry. But because he did it in the context of an attempt to synthesize Durkheim and Weber, who had far more differences than commonalities, he created an odd construction of religion that focused on a particular historical mode of religious organization that delegitimated religion as an independent variable. The outcome came to be articulated under the rubric of secularization theory, though as this ideology was recrafted it turned from something largely positive in Parsons's specific use to something negative, particularly at the hands of popular essayist Will Herberg.
Although Parsonian functionalism remained the primary mode of sociological analysis into the early 1960s, it was increasingly challenged by neo-Marxist sociologies. Columbia sociologist C. Wright Mills—who, ironically, was the other major American importer of Weber—and German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf became two exemplars of the new styles of analysis. Mills was strident and politically active; Dahrendorf was a more dispassionate exemplar of leftist theory. The succeeding decades brought diverse elaborations of alternative themes in the work of such figures as Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and Immanuel Wallerstein. Because the reaction against Parsons's functionalism had Marxist leanings, sociology again distanced itself from religion. This breach was to some extent restored by the emergence of Latin American liberation theologies, which used Marxist categories for Christian ends.
Far more significant to the field as a whole, however, was the collapse of the Soviet system beginning in 1989 and the role of religious actors on the global sociopolitical scene as early as 1979. It could be argued that sociology at the beginning of the twenty-first century is in a state of theoretical fragmentation and fermentation, as no single paradigm exercises disciplinary hegemony, and critiques of "grand narratives" based on postmodernist understandings make disciplinary consensus difficult to achieve. As an alternative to postmodernist nihilism, however, globalization theory, as evidenced, for example, in the work of Roland Robertson, offers itself as a viable construct for integrating diverse social phenomena and expressions. Considering the world (or globe) as the unit of analysis, globalization theory takes some of its cues from Parsons in its differentiation between the universal and the particular as a major axis for understanding social action, but it draws toward conflict theory inasmuch as it recognizes the importance of particularistic universalisms and universalistic particularities as dynamics of destabilization and reintegration of social systems. By recognizing that in the high-technology multinational capitalism that characterizes late-modern society all social and cultural forms are potentially interrelated to all others, globalization theory allows for the full interplay of all institutional sectors, including religion, within the explanatory structure of social action. Reaching back, then, into the early American sociology of W. I. Thomas, which Parsons himself intimated in an essay in his 1977 Social Systems and the Evolution of Action Theory (p. 48), is the basis of Parson's own "pattern variables" approach within social theory; globalization reinvigorates the study of religion as a category of human action precisely because of its effects within the global system—religion is real because it is real in its effects. As a macro form of Thomas's situationalism, globalization theory achieves what Durkheim attempted to do in removing truth questions from the study of social phenomena (including religion), but could not accomplish using a functionalist definition of social institutions.
Sociology of religion
Because of the intimate relationship between the founding of sociology and its concern with investigating questions of religion, the sociology of religion was among the earliest of the field's subdisciplines, yet, in the United States especially, was among the last to be institutionalized formally in the sectional substructure of the ASA—though it is now among the largest. In most respects, the course of development of the sociology of religion reflects issues and strategies of the larger discipline on the one hand, and general social issues on the other. Especially after the 1950s, leadership from general sociology permeated the sociology of religion and vice versa. For example, J. Milton Yinger wrote crucial texts for the field in the 1960s and 1970s, and was subsequently elected president of the ASA. Similarly, Talcott Parsons was among the founders and one of the first presidents of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (as well as a president of the ASA). In other cases, sociologists of religion were among the first to challenge the diffident scientism of the late 1930s and 1940s. Catholic sociologist Paul Hanly Furfey's critique of Lundberg's Can Science Save Us? remains a classic in general theory. And it is in the Catholic sociology movement of the late 1930s that the Association for the Sociology of Religion finds its roots.
The 1980s began to see an important shift in sociology of religion approaches in the United States, characterized by what R. Stephen Warner has termed a "new paradigm." The new paradigm particularly shifted away from the secularization model that had dominated sociology from its earliest days and came to emphasize religion as more than either epiphenomenon or residue. In his presidential address to the Southern Sociological Society in 1987, Jeffrey K. Hadden led a direct assault on the core principles of the secularization model. Currently, the new paradigm is most actively pursued through the "supply side" or "rational choice" modeling of a group of scholars whose perspective and conclusions are most fully articulated in Rodney Stark and Roger Finke's Acts of Faith (2001), but that rest upon the premise that religious decisions and action patterns are undertaken by people using the same kinds of processes, social or psychological, as characterize all other forms of decision making and action pattern formation—a view that draws heavily upon the work of contemporary Chicago economics professor Gary Becker.
Sociology of knowledge
The sociology of science has usually been treated as a major theme within the sociology of knowledge, which has had close ties with the sociology of religion. Max Weber, for example, tends to use the terms secularization and intellectualization interchangeably. Secularization refers primarily to a change in epistemological frames; in other words, theological or religious categories no longer provide the major frame of analysis through which everyday life experiences are understood. To the larger debate on the nature of science, Weber also contributed the widely cited essay "Science as a Vocation" ("Wissenschaft als Beruf, " perhaps more accurately translated "Scholarship as a Calling," delivered in 1917, published in 1919, and translated into English in 1946). This essay specifically identified detached academic investigation with the Lutheran concept of vocation or calling, ending (as does the Protestant ethic series) with a biblical quote and a prophetic call.
Weber also indirectly influenced the sociology of science through the work of Robert K. Merton, whose Ph.D. thesis, published as Science, Technology, and Society in Seventeenth-Century England (1938) used the style of Weber's Protestant ethic thesis to argue for a relationship between Protestantism and the rise of modern science (now known as the Merton thesis ). Other major contributions within the sociology of knowledge include Karl Mannheim's Ideology and Utopia (1936) and Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks (written between 1926 and 1937), which is particularly important for Gramsci's treatment of hegemony. Although not strictly sociology, Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) must be considered a crucial work for any subsequent sociology of knowledge. In addition to these theoretical contributions, there has also been an enormous volume of empirical work on the demographic, educational, sociocultural, and other background characteristics of people who become scientists, and to a lesser extent to the processes by which scientific communication takes place.
See also Liberation Theology
bannister, robert c. sociology and scientism: the american quest for objectivity, 1880-1940. chapel hill: university of north carolina press, 1987.
lazarsfeld, paul f., and merton, robert k. "friendship as a social process: a substantive and methodological analysis." in freedom and control in modern society, ed. monroe berger, theodore abel, and charles hunt page. new york: van nostrand, 1954.
martindale, don. the nature and types of sociological theory. boston: houghton mifflin, 1960.
parsons, talcott. social systems and the evolution of action theory. new york: free press, 1977.
small, albion w. "fifty years of sociology in the united states." american journal of sociology 21 (1916): 721–864.
swatos, william h., jr. faith of the fathers: science, religion, and reform in the development of early american sociology. bristol, ind.: wyndham hall press, 1984.
vidich, arthur j., and lyman, stanford m. american sociology: worldly rejections of religion and their directions. new haven, conn.: yale university press, 1985.
william h. swatos, jr.
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group Inc.
Modernity and the bodyFirstly, there is the series of complex social and cultural changes associated with the rise of modernity. Modernity has a long history, but amongst the most significant social processes identified with rapid socio-economic and technical change since the nineteenth century, is the emergence of consumer culture. The marketing and consumption of mass-produced consumer goods involves an unprecedented exploitation of visual images of the body, ranging from photography and the cinema to computer-mediated forms of communication. Linked with innovations in processes of mass communication, consumer culture encourages the cultivation of individualized lifestyles in which bodily and self-display play a prominent part. An easy test of the extent of this influence on everyday life is to make a rough count of the images of human bodies in various states of dress encountered during the course of an ordinary day and then add to these the number of mirrors and other surfaces reflecting one's own face and physical appearance. This account can then be compared with an estimate of such images one would have been likely to see before the end of the nineteenth century, especially images of one's own face and body.
The proliferation of images of the body is a significant aspect of the growth of individualism — the high value given to the private individual or person — which is regarded by sociologists as a key feature of modernity. Modernity has been equated with the shift from the social to the individual person who spends increasing amounts of time cultivating personal identity through the cultivation of the body. A good example is the growth in regimes for body modification, including gymnasia, leisure and keep fit centres, and health farms; also the expanding selection of magazines, newspaper articles, and TV programmes designed to encourage body-consciousness and self-expression. It is argued that a key reason underlying this change is the transition from traditional to modern forms of human association, where the links between human beings are no longer established by the rules of traditional community life. Rather, they have been replaced with those based upon agreements and contracts made between people who regard themselves as private individuals operating in a free market. In this situation the individuals are dependent upon their own resources, including those of the body; the competent self requires a functioning body which is capable of sustained activity and of responding to the demands of rapid and risky social change. The move from traditional forms of social and economic organization to ‘late modern’ societies is therefore seen as one requiring a flexible embodied self whose identity is much less stable than perhaps was the case in the past. The result is an increasing tendency to regard the nature of the body not as fixed, but as highly flexible and open to social construction/reconstruction through various techniques of body- and therefore self-modification. Another good example is the rising demand for cosmetic surgery, a reflection of the current value placed upon the interdependence of body and self, and of the importance of embodied self-expression in an individualized social world.
Feminism and the bodyThe second major influence on the emergence of sociological interest in the body is the feminist movement. From the 1970s feminist scholarship has played an important part in bringing the body back into sociology. The traditional concern of feminists with the exclusion of women from the public sphere is expressed in sociology as a major critical attack on their neglect by male sociologists, who have taken ‘man’, and especially ‘public man’, as the model for the whole of ‘humanity’. Feminists argue that the equation ‘man’ = society stems from a neglect of the personal and social lives of women. This arises from assumptions about the nature of biological differences between the bodies of men and women and their influence on the roles they should play in society. At the heart of this issue is the recurring question of biology and society: to what extent are the differences between male and female bodies biologically determined, or socially and culturally constructed? Whilst biological differences in the reproductive functions of men and women are clearly evident the question remains of the social interpretations placed upon this difference and the ways in which perceptions of these differences influence forms of social discrimination between the genders.
One typical area is the matter of gender differences in the ageing process. Because their bodies are biologically programmed for conception and childbirth, women undergo a number of changes called the menopause, with the cessation of the ability to produce children. With the apparent exception of a few unusual cases, this process of biological change is unknown in men. That much is generally agreed but, as feminist scholars argue, the fact of this bodily change is no justification for the elaborate construction of personal and social distinctions between middle-aged men and women which characterize social stereotypes of ‘menopausal women’. In fact menopausal changes are highly variable and there are good reasons to believe that the severity of these physical effects is widely exaggerated. Yet the menopause is also widely stereotyped as a troublesome period for women.
The major contribution of feminists to the sociology of the body has been to challenge the belief that the biology of the body is the bottom line and to show how the meanings given to the body are socially constructed by those who are in a position to create ideas about the body and put them into practice. In this area many sociologists have been influenced by the work of Michel Foucault, who regards the body as the subject of power and discipline, especially the power and disciplined knowledge of the expert. Partly because power and the exercise of power has always been a central concern for sociologists, Foucault's theoretical and historical analyses of body discipline have formed the basis for much contemporary empirical research on the body, including sexuality, health education, doctor– patient relationships, mental illness, the social organization of hospitals, dentistry, geriatric medicine, and crime and punishment. In this work sociologists are principally concerned to show how experts such as medical investigators do not simply discover the biological secrets of the body, which are somehow waiting there to be observed, but also actively construct ways of perceiving the body and giving meaning to it; observations of the body, even using the most advanced technology, are influenced by the ideas and beliefs of the day. According to Foucault, experts in sexology during the nineteenth century were instrumental in creating a whole new range of sexual experiences and behaviour through their prescriptions of what could be defined as ‘normal’ sexual practice. Their ‘discoveries’ of new sexual deviations and ‘perversions’ had the unintended effect of extending the repertoire of sexual behaviour and producing new forms of social problems for experts to resolve. Similarly, geriatric medicine, also an invention of the nineteenth century, can be seen sociologically as an attempt to determine the nature of the ageing body by constructing categories of distinction between ‘normal’ and ‘pathological’ ageing processes. This development is a crucial part of the process whereby members of the medical profession lay claims to certain forms of expertise and therefore the power to discriminate between older people. The point is not that there is no such thing as biological sex or the biologically ageing body but that our perceptions and understanding of them are shaped by the practical social activities of those who wish to set themselves up as experts working within specific professional fields.
The civilizing process and the bodyIn the sociology of the body all roads ultimately lead to contemporary versions of the old nature/nurture debate — the question of the boundaries between the biological, the social, and the psychological. Another key influence here is the German sociologist Norbert Elias (1897–1990), for whom it is a waste of time and intellectual effort to assess the relative contributions of biology, society, and psychology to the causes of any human behaviour. His argument, based on detailed studies of the history of human violence, bodily functions (sexual activity, eating habits, excretion), and the emotions, is that over a long period of time these three have become indivisible. Although human behaviour is inevitably grounded in biology and we cannot escape the material limitations of our bodies, this basic physical potential is overlaid by the long-term cultural transformations that Elias calls ‘the civilizing process’.
The civilizing process is characterized by the gradual domination of learned over instinctual experience, a process he describes as ‘symbol emancipation’. Through the long history of the species, human beings have gradually become distanced, by the accumulation of a vast cultural heritage, from their basic instinctual drives and biological urges: human beings survive because of their innate capacity for learned behaviour. Whilst therefore human societies are composed of bodies these are collections of the bodies of individuals who have learned from a vast inherited cultural repertoire the importance of exercising control over their bodies and who are subject to the often self-imposed restraints of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. One consequence of this long-term process is the emergence of the disciplined individual, who through self and bodily discipline is able to establish collaborative relationships with other people, many of whom, in the modern world, will be strangers. The civilized individual is slow to anger and emotionally calculating, exercising a high degree of discipline over bodily functions such as eating, excretion, and sexual activity. The civilized individual has a strong sense of the boundaries prescribed by good manners and etiquette between one human body and another and the subtle distinctions between public and private space. The civilized individual is the citizen of the modern world.
Body and selfIf at the present moment a generalization about the sociological analysis of the human body can be made, it is that recent work is marked by an increasingly sophisticated and theoretically complex rejection of crude attempts to reduce the body to a biological mechanism. In particular, the dualistic or binary approach — inherited from Descartes, who separated the mind from the body — is regarded at worst as totally unacceptable and at best as an issue for further enquiry and research. The idea of the self (or soul) having a separate existence within the body is seen by many sociologists to be indefensible at a time when science and technology are transforming human beings into part biology and part machine. The emergence of ‘cyborg culture’ raises urgent questions about what it is to be a human body, when increasingly our bodies are invaded by surgical techniques, and deficient organs are replaced or given mechanical substitutes. One hope for those who regard the ageing of the population as a major social problem is in the prospect of advances in ‘young’ laboratory-grown replacement tissues and organs to replace the ‘aged’ in the bodies of older people. Similarly developments in genetic science hold out hope for the discovery of the ageing gene and the abolition of old age.
Technology as culture frees the body from biology, because it enables humans to modify their bodies, both in their external appearance and in their inner structures and functions. A concern with modern identities has resulted in much closer enquiry into the emergence of individuality and self-consciousness in late modern forms of social organization, where technology and consumer culture have produced a significant change in the relationship between the social, the cultural, and the biological. Yet at the same time, as many sociologists indicate, the spectre of the death of the body continues to haunt the modern world. The ageing of the population on a global scale is, therefore, a final reason for the increasing interest in the sociology of the body. In modern societies old age takes us to the limits of the increasingly blurring boundary between the biological and the social: old age becomes in a very real sense the final problem. For another twentieth-century German sociologist, Zigmunt Bauman, modern societies conceal death because death conflicts with the continual process of making and re-making the self, which is central to modernity. Selfhood is grounded in consciousness of one's own bodily processes and the belief in science, yet the desire of human beings for complete control over their lives and destinies exists uneasily alongside an increasing awareness of the limitations of scientific knowledge and of the risks it entails.
If the self and the body form a culturally integrated whole and the self is essentially embodied — has no existence outside the body — then problems arise when the body begins to decline or is disabled. For some sociologists the future lies in the disembodied world of ‘cyberspace’, where the electronic media liberate individuals from the encumbrance of the body, a development which is seen as potentially beneficial for those excluded from normal social interaction through bodily impairment and disability. But the reference point of individual identity, even in cyberspace, is still the human body, and in the last analysis images have to be related to embodiment as it is experienced, if they are to influence practical human relationships and shape the quality of the experience of everyday life.
Shilling, C. (1993). The body and social theory. Sage, London.
Turner, B. S. (1996). The body and society, (2nd edn). London.
See also ageing; feminism; leisure; philosophy and the body; work and the body.
© The Oxford Companion to the Body 2001, originally published by Oxford University Press 2001.
Historically, the word itself was first used by Auguste Comte, although a concern with the nature of society can be found throughout the history of Western thought. However, it was not until the nineteenth century, in the aftermath of industrial revolution and consequent political upheavals, that we see a concern with society as such as a direct object of study. In Comte's work, sociology was to be the highest achievement of science, producing knowledge of the laws of the social world equivalent to our knowledge of the laws of nature. We could then determine, once and for all, what sort of social changes were possible and so alleviate the political chaos that followed the French Revolution. It is often argued that this is a profoundly conservative reaction to the liberal optimism of the Enlightenment: against notions of individual freedom and unlimited social progress, sociology asserts the importance of the community, and the comparatively limited possibilities that exist for social change. Similarly, in his book The Sociological Tradition (1967), Robert Nisbet has argued that much classical sociology reflects a generalized hostility to the industrial and political revolutions of that period. Marxists also maintain that, as the discipline developed during the nineteenth century, it was clearly as a bourgeois social science—a reply and alternative to the increasing political and intellectual influence of historical materialism. At the same time, however, sociology has often been taken up by social reformers: even the positivism of Comte was important in the growth of reform movements during the late nineteenth century. An alternative to this account of the history of sociology is the argument, found most clearly perhaps in the work of Talcott Parsons (see especially The Structure of Social Action, 1937
) that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sociology broke free of its earlier ideological shackles and established itself as a science proper, especially in the work of Max Weber and Émile Durkheim. Neither of these histories is adequate, as the recent work of Anthony Giddens has shown, although most sociology courses still point to the achievements of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim (and, in the United States, George Herbert Mead) in laying the theoretical foundations of the modern discipline.
In its present form, sociology embraces a range of different views concerning both what a social science should comprise, and what might be the proper subject-matter of sociology in particular. The latter provides perhaps the best way of making sense of the discipline. There are three general conceptions of the object of sociological interest—although these are not mutually exclusive. All three can be said to define the study of society but what is meant by society is in each case rather different.
The first states that the proper object for sociology is social structure, in the sense of patterns of relationships which have an independent existence, over and above the individuals or groups that occupy positions in these structures at any particular time: for example, the positions of the nuclear family (mother, father, children) might remain the same from generation to generation and place to place, independently of the specific individuals who fill or do not fill those positions. There are two main versions of this approach: Marxism, which conceptualizes the structures of modes of production, and Parsonsian structural-functionalism which identifies systems, sub-systems, and role structures.
A second perspective deems the proper object of sociology to lie in something that we might call, with Durkheim, collective representations: meanings and ways of cognitively organizing the world which have a continued existence over and above the individuals who are socialized into them. Language itself is the paradigm case: it pre-exists our birth, continues after our death, and as individuals we can alter it little or not at all. Much modern structuralist and post-modernist work (in particular discourse analysis) can be seen as part of this tradition.
Finally, there are those for whom the proper object of sociological attention is meaningful social action, in the sense intended by Max Weber. The implicit or explicit assumption behind this approach is that there is no such thing as society: merely individuals and groups entering into social relationships with each other. There are widely differing ways in which such interaction can be studied, including Weber's own concerns with rational action and the relationships between beliefs and actions; the symbolic interactionist concern with the production, maintenance, and transformation of meanings in face-to-face interaction; and the ethnomethodological study of the construction of social reality through linguistic practices.
A moment's reflection will confirm that, between them, these three possible candidates for sociological study almost exhaust the range of what one is likely to meet during the course of social relationships. It is no surprise, then, that sociology is sometimes seen (at least by sociologists) as a queen of the social sciences, bringing together and extending the knowledge and insights of all the other (conceptually more restricted) adjacent disciplines. This claim is perhaps less true now than during the period when it was expanding rapidly, but despite inevitable specialization among its practitioners there is still a strong totalizing tendency in the discipline, as a perusal of the work of Anthony Giddens or Jeffrey Alexander will establish. Indeed, Giddens himself argues that sociology emerged as an attempt to make sense of the profound social transformation between traditional and modern societies, and as that change continues and gathers pace so the attempt to understand it becomes more important.
Hence sociology is, and is likely to remain, both an attractive and internally divided discipline, and a discipline which attracts a great deal of criticism, especially from those who—for whatever reason—are most resistant to social change. See also CULTURAL STUDIES; EXCHANGE THEORY; SOCIAL ACTION; SOCIAL ORDER; SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION.
See also individual entries on the sociologies of AGEING, THE BODY, CONSUMPTION, DEVELOPMENT, ECONOMIC LIFE, EDUCATION, EMOTION, THE FAMILY, FOOD, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, KNOWLEDGE, LAW, LEISURE, MEDICINE, RACE, RELIGION, SCIENCE; and entries on DEVIANCE, ENVIRONMENT, GENDER, MILITARY AND MILITARISM, ORGANIZATION THEORY, POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY, POP SOCIOLOGY, RURAL SOCIOLOGY, URBAN SOCIOLOGY, WELFARE.
© A Dictionary of Sociology 1998, originally published by Oxford University Press 1998.
SOCIOLOGY. Sociology involves the study of how people relate to each other, as well as how the institutions of society affect behavior and attitudes. For most of the past hundred and fifty years, sociologists have focused mainly on social institutions and structures. It was only around the middle of the twentieth century that they turned their attention to the important roles that technologies (including food production and processing) play in society. Other disciplines (particularly anthropology) have a much longer history of research into food and culture.
Food and food habits have been only implicitly assumed in sociological literature until just recently. Food studies have been an integral part of both rural sociology and medical sociology. For rural sociologists, food has been central in studies of agricultural and technological change. Food has also been a main focus in the studies of farms, community living, social change, and consumer issues. In fact, rural sociologists began to study food production in the 1930s through research on the adoption and diffusion of innovations (new technologies).
For medical sociologists, food and nutrition are now recognized as an important factor in the study of health and wellness. Sociologists examine how our nutritional habits are based on cultural identity, gender, race and ethnicity, and social class. Although food is a fundamental concern for human life, sociologists are now just establishing a sociology of food by identifying how lifestyles, social class, gender, and ethnicity influence food selection and consumption. In fact, much of the market research that food companies conduct is in fact a form of sociological research (e.g., focus groups, surveys, and interviews).
The sociological study of food is important in understanding social change, the state, and consumer society. For example, positive social change has come about as a result of epidemiological and sociological studies of the importance of sanitation. Sociological studies based on food exportation, importation, and food agricultures have examined how states develop. In addition, research into the inequality of distribution and access to food comprises another way that sociologists can expose to explain class, race, and gender differences, as well as forms of political domination. Food is also important in explaining consumerism, cultural assimilation, modernization, and how beliefs and rituals change.
Sociologists have always been interested in social inequality and stratification (i.e., through analysis of gender, ethnic, and class differences.) For example, some foods are associated with women and some with men. Women eat less food overall, and they are usually light foods or foods that can be nibbled, such as salad or fish. Men tend to eat more food, and prefer foods associated with strength, such as red meat. Food habits also vary significantly with age. For example, soft or strained foods are appropriate for very young children who have no teeth, as well as for the elderly (for the same reason). As people age, they also become more concerned about the role of diet in their overall health.
Food also represents distinctive cultures; for example, pasta is associated with Italian culture, or curry with Indian culture. Cultures evolve to suit the local environment. For instance, spicy foods are more popular in the warmer climates. Class distinctions in foods abound. In the early 1900s in Great Britain, people in the upper classes ate more meat than those of the middle or lower classes. However, by the middle of the century, all people ate about the same amount of meat, as advances in food technology put meat in the range of everyone. Economically disadvantaged groups are sometimes forced to eat what is cheap, and these foods may not be as nutritious as higher-priced foods. Disadvantaged groups then are more vulnerable to health problems, such as heart disease or obesity.
It has been said that "We are what we eat." Food becomes part of our self-identity. From a very young age, an individual is socialized into his or her adult eating habits. A person eats what his family eats when he is young—these habits do not tend to change that much with age. In Western cultures, young children are taught that the insects they find are not to be eaten. In other cultures, however, young children are taught that certain insects are edible and they become part of the diet. Foods are part of the rituals we use to accept new members into our group, to celebrate milestones, and to express religious or political beliefs. For example, a new neighbor might be presented with a basket of food or a homemade pie as a welcome gift.
Celebrations, such as birthdays and anniversaries, usually involve some kind of cake or other sweet food. National holidays usually include foods associated with the country. For example, Americans celebrate Independence Day with backyard barbecues (including hamburgers and hot dogs, potato chips and watermelon). Thanksgiving is closely associated with turkey. Religious holidays also use symbolic foods, such as ham at Christmas for Christians. Some religions have specific taboos on food. For instance, Jewish people do not eat pork, while Hindus do not eat beef, and Seventh-Day Adventists do not eat meat at all. Many religions also endorse fasting as part of their rituals.
Sociologists have shown how the level of development within a country influences food habits and preferences. Industrialized countries consume and waste more food than developing countries. Americans may waste up to 25 percent of their food. Waste results from poor storage and processing, as well as from unused leftovers and spoiled foodstuffs that are never used. There is less consumer waste in developing countries. However, this practice is increasing as more countries adopt Western ideas and values concerning food.
Almost every culture has some form of food taboo. In fact, there is only one taboo that is universal, and that is the restriction on eating human flesh. This was not always the case, however. Early people, such as the South American Indians, would grind up the bones of their ancestors into a communal pot, to share their strength and wisdom with all tribal members. Some taboos restrict certain kinds of foods to certain meals. For example, Americans eat cereal for breakfast, but not for dinner. Food taboos may be based on cleanliness standards, but taboos may also be used to change entire food systems. Sometimes it is easier to restrict foods on religious beliefs, than to convince people rationally to change their eating habits. Emotions also play a major role in decisions about what people eat and why. Sociological research and theory are therefore important for understanding how to increase human health through better diet and nutrition.
See also Anthropology and Food ; Feasts, Festivals, and Fasts ; Food Politics: United States ; Icon Foods ; Political Economy ; Population and Demographics ; Religion and Food ; Taboos ; United States: Ethnic Cuisines .
Beardsworth, Alan, and Terresa Keil. Sociology On The Menu. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Gabaccia, Donna. We Are What We Eat. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998.
McIntosh, Alex, Sociologies of Food and Nutrition. New York: Plenum Press, 1996.
Thomas Jefferson Hoban IV
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sociology, scientific study of human social behavior. As the study of humans in their collective aspect, sociology is concerned with all group activities—economic, social, political, and religious. Sociologists study such areas as bureaucracy, community, deviant behavior, family, public opinion, social change, social mobility, social stratification, and such specific problems as crime, divorce, child abuse, and substance addiction. Sociology tries to determine the laws governing human behavior in social contexts; it is sometimes distinguished as a general social science from the special social sciences, such as economics and political science, which confine themselves to a selected group of social facts or relations.
The Evolution of Sociology
A number of Western political theorists and philosophers, including Plato, Polybius, Machiavelli, Vico, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, have treated political problems in a broader social context. Thus Montesquieu regarded the political forms of different states as a consequence of the working of deep underlying climatic, geographic, economic, and psychological factors. In the 18th cent., Scottish thinkers made inquiries into the nature of society; scholars like Adam Smith explored the economic causes of social organization and social change, while Adam Ferguson considered the noneconomic causes of social cohesion.
It was not until the 19th cent., however, when the concept of society was finally separated from that of the state, that sociology developed into an independent study. The term sociology was coined (1838) by Auguste Comte. He attempted to analyze all aspects of cultural, political, and economic life and to identify the unifying principles of society at each stage of human social development. Herbert Spencer applied the principles of Darwinian evolution to the development of human society in his popular and controversial Principles of Sociology (1876–96). An important stimulus to sociological thought came from the work of Karl Marx, who emphasized the economic basis of the organization of society and its division into classes and saw in the class struggle the main agent of social progress.
The founders of the modern study of sociology were Émile Durkheim and Max Weber. Durkheim pioneered in the use of empirical evidence and statistical material in the study of society. Weber's major contribution was as a theorist, and his generalizations about social organization and the relation of belief systems, including religion, to social action are still influential. He developed the use of the ideal type—a working model, based on the selective combination of certain elements of historical fact or current reality—as a tool of sociological analysis. In the United States the study of sociology was pioneered and developed by Lester Frank Ward and William Graham Sumner.
The most important theoretical sociology in the 20th cent. has moved in three directions: conflict theory, structural-functional theory, and symbolic interaction theory. Conflict theory draws heavily on the work of Karl Marx and emphasizes the role of conflict in explaining social change; prominent conflict theorists include Ralf Dahrendorf and C. Wright Mills. Structural-functional theory, developed by Talcott Parsons and advanced by Robert Merton, assumes that large social systems are characterized by homeostasis, or "steady states." The theory is now often called "conservative" in its orientation. Symbolic interaction, begun by George Herbert Mead and further developed by Herbert Blumer and others, focuses on subjective perceptions or other symbolic processes of communication.
See P. Sorokin, Contemporary Sociological Theories (1928, repr. 1964); R. Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition (1966); R. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure (enl. ed. 1968); G. D. Mitchell, A Hundred Years of Sociology (1968); H. Blumer, Symbolic Interactionism (1969); J. H. Abraham, The Origins and Growth of Sociology (1973); J. E. Goldthorpe, An Introduction to Sociology (1974); L. Broom et al., Essentials of Sociology (3d ed. 1984); W. Feigelman, Sociology Full Circle (1989).
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so·ci·ol·o·gy / ˌsōsēˈäləjē/ • n. the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. ∎ the study of social problems. DERIVATIVES: so·ci·o·log·i·cal / ˌsōsēōˈläjikəl/ adj. so·ci·o·log·i·cal·ly / ˌsōsēōˈläjik(ə)lē/ adv. so·ci·ol·o·gist / -jist/ n.
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