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Sorokin, Pitirim Alexandrovitch

Pitirim Alexandrovitch Sorokin (pĬtĬrēm´ ăl´Ĭgzăn´drəvĬch sōrō´kĬn), 1889–1968, Russian-American sociologist. Supporting himself as artisan and clerk, he was able to study at the Univ. of St. Petersburg and to teach sociology. Sorokin was imprisoned three times by the czarist regime; during the Russian Revolution he was a member of the Kerensky government. After the October Revolution he engaged in anti-Bolshevik activities and was condemned to death; the sentence was commuted to banishment. He emigrated (1923) to the United States and was naturalized in 1930. Sorokin was professor of sociology at the Univ. of Minnesota (1924–30) and at Harvard (1930–55). His writings cover the breadth of sociology; his controversial theories of social process and of the historical typology of cultures are expounded in Social and Cultural Dynamics (4 vol., 1937–41; rev. and abridged ed. 1957) and many other works. He was also interested in social stratification, the history of sociological theory, and altruistic behavior.

See his autobiography, Leaves from a Russian Diary—and Thirty Years After (enl. ed. 1950, repr. 1970); study by J. J. P. Maquet (1951, repr. 1973); F. R. Cowell, Values in Human Society; the Contributions of P. A. Sorokin to Sociology (1970).

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Sorokin, Pitirim Alexandrovich

Sorokin, Pitirim Alexandrovich (1889–1968) Born in Russia of humble origins, imprisoned and under threat of death, Sorokin was exiled in 1922, and found his way to the United States, where he eventually became Professor of Sociology at Harvard. During his career he published over thirty books on a wide range of topics including The Sociology of Revolution (1925), Social Mobility (1927), Rural Sociology (1930), and Social and Cultural Dynamics (4 vols., 1937–41). The last of these offers a cyclical theory of social change, which sees societies oscillating between three different types of ‘mentalities’, the sensate (emphasizing the role of the senses in understanding reality), ideational (religious ways of thinking), and idealistic (transitional types between the two). A prolific and profoundly iconoclastic sociologist (see, for example, his Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology and Related Sciences, 1956
), Sorokin's work is generally recognized as provocative and (in many respects) pioneering, yet later generations have been remarkably uninfluenced by it (with the notable exception of his analysis of social mobility).

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