Sorokin on the city versus the country

 

 

 

мы знаем, что характер поведения людей (А) представляет результат («функцию») двух основных причин, двух «независимых переменных»: характера организма со всеми его наследственно полученными свойствами (В) и характера среды, как комплекса раздражителей (С), воздействующих на организм и вызывающих с его стороны ответные акты («реакции»), в своей совокупности и составляющие поведение.

A = f (B+C)

Если поэтому в этом уравнении меняется организм (В) или сфера (С) или обе «независимые, переменные», то меняется и поведение (А). Среда (С) города и среда деревни глубоко отличны друг от друга, а в силу различия этой «переменной», резко различным будет и поведение (с психикой) горожанина и земледельца. Первый живет главным образом «на лоне культуры», второй — «на лоне природы». Первый находится в среде «искусcтвенной», второй ‒ «естественной». Железо, бетон и камни, пар и электричество, огромная скученность населения, магазины, кафе, газеты, телефон, фабрики, машины, беспрерывно движущийся поток трамваев, автомобилей, и поездов, сумасшедшая толкотня и суетня на улицах, ‒ такова среда горожанина. Весь мир он воспринимает сквозь призму «культуры», сам он, так сказать, весь обернут газетами и пеленками «цивилизации» и только изредка подвергается прямому воздействию «природы». Не естественный ветер обдувает его, а струя вентиляционного воздуха, настоящее солнце ему заменяет электрическая люстра, почву ‒ мостовая, реку ‒ сжатый в железо и бетон, испачканный нефтью канал, лес и деревья ‒ подстриженный и напудренно-вылощенный сквер, чудеса и жизнь природы он видит лишь в «кино», жизнь животных ‒ в «зоологическом саду». Сам он весь «стилизован» и «окультурен», начиная с вставных зубов, пудры, корсета, и кончая … нефтью, машинным маслом и копотью угля …

 

 

We know that the behavior of people (A) represents the result (“function”) of two main causes, two “independent variables”: the nature of the organism with all of its hereditarily obtained properties (B) and the nature of the environment, as a complex of stimuli (C), acting upon the body and causing on its part reciprocal acts (“reactions”), in their totality and composite behavior.

A = f (B + C)

If therefore in this equation the organism (B) or the sphere (C) or both “independent variables” change, then the behavior also changes (A). The environment (C) of a city and the environment of a village are profoundly different from one another, and due to the difference in this “variable,” the behavior (as well as the psyche) of a city dweller and a farmer will also be distinctly different. The first lives mainly “in the bosom of culture,” the second ‒ “in the bosom of nature.” The first is in an “artificial,” the second ‒ in a “natural” environment. Iron, concrete and stones, steam and electricity, a huge overcrowding of the population, shops, cafes, newspapers, telephones, factories, cars, a constantly moving stream of trams, cars and trains, the crazy hustle and bustle in the streets ‒ this is the environment of a city dweller. He perceives the whole world through the prism of “culture,” he himself, so to speak, is all wrapped up in newspapers and diapers of “civilization” and is only occasionally exposed to the direct influence of “nature.” It is not a natural wind that blows it, but a stream of ventilated air, the real sun is replaced by an electric chandelier, the soil is pavement, a river is compressed into iron and concrete, a canal stained with oil, a forest and trees are a trimmed and powdered and polished park, the wonders and the life of nature he sees only in the “cinema,” the life of animals ‒ in a “zoological garden.” He himself is all “stylized” and “cultured,” starting with false teeth, powder, a corset, and ending … with oil, engine oil and coal soot …

 

— excerpted from Pitirim Sorokin, “Город и Деревня. (био-социологическая характеристика)” (“City and Country. (Bio-Sociological Characteristics”); Prague: Peasant Russia Publishing House, 1923); English translation by Natalia S. Sergieva and Roger W. Smith

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith, October 2020

a “nostalgic multiple jailbird” (New Yorker interview with Sorokin)

 

 

Binder1

 

 

The following is the text of a New Yorker article based on an interview conducted with Sorokin:

“Longevity Recipe”

“The Talk of the Town”

The New Yorker

January 4, 1958

pp. 16-17

 

 

Longevity Recipe

Are kind, permissive, lurk-around-the house parents, so much de rigueur nowadays, all they’re cracked up to be, psychologically and pedagogically speaking? Does an absentee or punitive father spell future failure for his little ones? Do people learn by suffering or so they go to pieces? Such questions have furrowed our brow during several decades of buttonholing famous men, many of whom, it turned out, had been either quickly orphaned or personally abandoned or paternally cuffed. This ponderous line of thought possessed us anew the other morning when we sat down at a table in the West Fifty-first Street Schrafft’s for a prearranged chat with Professor A. Sorokin, director of the Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism and author of thirty books, among them “Time-Budgets of Human Behavior,” “The American Sex Revolution,” and “Social and Cultural Dynamics.” A merry scholar of sixty-eight if we ever saw one, his face set in quizzically humorous lines, his work translated into fifteen tongues; happy married, by his own account, for forty years to a prominent biologist, and the father of two promising sons, one a physicist and the other a student at Harvard Medical School; a vigorous fisherman, mountain climber, camper-out, and tiller of a big do-it-yourself garden of azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, and roses in Winchester, Massachusetts, Professor Sorokin is also the possessor of an upper lip that seems somewhat smashed in. We would never have mentioned this if the Professor had not brought it up himself. “Father did it with a hammer when I was nine,” he said. “He was a good man, but he used to hit the bottle, and then he’d hit my brother and me. Our mother died when I was four. I was born in Touria, a village in Vologda Region, near Archangel. It was a barren rural, extremely cold section. I am from the very bottom of Russian society. Mother was the daughter of poor peasants and Father was an itinerant artisan who did painting, silvering, and gilding, in churches and peasants’ houses. After Mother’s death, my older brother and I–a younger brother was adopted by an aunt–moved with Father from village to village, helping him with his work. We separated from him after the hammer incident, and he died a year later. We continued our nomadic life, gilding icons, and so forth, until in one hamlet, Gam, I came across a newly founded school. I took an examination, was given a scholarship, graduated after three years, and won another three-year scholarship, at the Teachers College in Kostroma Region.”

Professor Sorokin paused to polish off some ham and eggs. “In 1906, when I was seventeen,” he said, “I was arrested there by the Czarist police and imprisoned for four months for giving revolutionary talks at factories. I was later arrested twice more by the Czarist police and three times by the Bolsheviks. Being arrested under the Czar was rather cozy. Czarist prisons were first-class hotels. The wardens were our office boys. ‘Telephone your friends from my office,’ they would say. “Help yourself to the books there.’ Bolshevik arrests were very different. Every day was a day of jeopardy. After Teachers College I went to night school in St. Petersburg, and then spent several years studying, and subsequently teaching, at the Psycho-Neurological Institute and the University of St. Petersburg. I gave courses in criminology and penology. In 1917, I was one of four founders of the All-Russian Peasant Soviet and a member of its executive committee, and I became secretary to Kerensky, then Prime Minister. I was also editor-in-chief of Volia Naroda, the Petrograd newspaper that was the main voice of the Kerensky government. My first Bolshevik arrest, for opposing such Communist leaders as Lenin, Trotsky, and Kamenev, was in January 1918. My second, in the fall of that year, was for helping engineer the overthrow of Communist government in Archangel. I was condemned to death, was released after six weeks through the intercession of a former student of mine, and returned to the university, where I founded its Department of Sociology. I wrote five books on sociology and on law, and underwent my final arrest. I was then comfortably banished, and went to Czechoslovakia on the invitation of my good friend President Masaryk, and in 1923 I came here to lecture at the Universities of Wisconsin and Illinois. I joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1924, and in 1930 I went to Harvard, where I organized, and became chairman of, the Department of Sociology. In 1948, I founded the Research Center in Creative Altruism there, with the financial support of Eli Lilly, an altruistic Indianapolis pharmaceutist. So far, Mr. Lilly and a fund called the Lilly Endowment have given us a hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars between them to conduct studies on how to make human beings less selfish and more creative. I haven’t been arrested since 1922, but I have revied a few parking tickets. I rather miss being arrested.”

This nostalgic multiple jailbird passed us the sugar, and we pressed him for a further word on creative altruism. “In brief, as a result of my studies, beginning in the nineteen-forties,” he said, “I came to the conclusion that if individual human beings, groups, and cultural institutions in general did not become notably more creatively altruistic, nothing could save mankind. Popular prescriptions, such as political changes, religious changes, and education as a panacea against war, won’t do it. This century, in which science and education have reached unrivalled heights, is the bloodiest of all the twenty-five centuries of Greco-Roman and European history. Have you read my ‘Altruistic Love’? It deals with some of the ascertainable characteristics of five hundred living American altruists and forty-six hundred Christian saints. The extraordinary longevity and vigorous health of the saints is remarkable! Or my ‘The Ways and Powers of Love’? It uncovers a sufficient body of evidence to show that unselfish, creative love can stop aggressive inter-individual and inter-group attacks, tangibly influence international policy, and pacify international conflicts, and that altruistic persons live longer than egoistic individuals. Or my ‘Man and Society in Calamity’? In this, I confirm the law of polarization, which runs contrary to the Freudian claim that calamity and frustration uniformly generate aggression, and contrary to the old claim, reiterated recently by Toynbee, that they lead uniformly to the moral and spiritual ennoblement of human beings. What the law of polarization holds is that, depending upon the type of personality, frustrations and misfortunes may be reacted to and overcome by positive polarization, resulting either in an increased creative effort (consider the deafness of Beethoven, the blindness of Milton) or in altruistic transformation (consider St. Francis of Assisi and Ignatius Loyola), or they may induce negative polarization, in the shape of suicide, mental disorder, brutalization, increase of selfishness, dumb submissiveness, or cynical sensualism. This works both individually and collectively.”

We unfurrowed our brow and left, resolved to love one and all, and to live to be a hundred and three.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

      October 2020

a notice of Sorokin’s first book

 

 

The Zyranians are a Finnish people in the north of European Russia who are gradually coming under the influence of Russian culture but still retain to a considerable extent their language and their ancient beliefs and customs. A young Zyranian student, Pitirim Sorokin, who has not yet completed his university course, has just published in Saint Petersburg a thick volume of 456 pages under the title of “Crime and Penalty, Virtue and Reward. A sociological study of the fundamental forms of social conduct and morals.” Professor Maxim Kovalevsky contributes a preface to the book, and it is perhaps less remarkable that a Zyranian at the age of twenty-four years should publish a book of such a size on a subject than that he should find reviewers, on the whole, inclined to be laudatory.

 

— “Notes on Current Books,” The Russian Review, Volume III, No. 1 (February 1914), pg. 224

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   June 2020

 

 

 

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correction:

 

In a post at

 

 

http://rksorokinctr.org/index.php/component/content/article/9-2011-06-23-08-52-45/128-2015-02-20-13-45-45.html

 

 

Marina Lomonosova notes that the earliest known works of Sorokin were believed to date back to 1910. As a result of her analysis of bibliographic material, Professor Lomonosova discovered an earlier article by Sorokin: «Кое-что о современной художественной литературе» (Something about Contemporary Fiction), published by him in 1907 in the magazine «Искры» (Sparks).

“one dollar a month”

 

 

See above-mentioned report of Lounatcharsky depicting the terrible condition of teachers and schools. Here are a few official statements. “The situation of the village schools is most dreadful. There is no kerosene, no light, no newspapers, no books. The schools are empty. No teachers. Cultural activity has died.” Isvestia, November 17, 1922. “I could torture you with terrible descriptions,” said Lounatcharsky himself : “among the teachers there are dreadful conditions, beggarliness and pauperism, awful mortality and disease, suicide and prostitution. The teachers have only twelve per cent. of the minimum income necessary to live” (about one dollar a month). Isvestia, No. 293, 1922. “Economic situation of the students is very bad,” said Bukharin in his report to the last Conference of the Russian Communistic Party in May of 1924: “The picture is terrible, the students are starving and could be called as the beggar-students, who do not have any shelter or room or income and how they are living nobody knows.” Isvestia, May 31, 1924. “According to the appearance of the present students you can not say who are before you: whether a student or hobo or beggar. Their clothes are nothing but rags. Their faces are emaciated and pale. Such poverty and starvation influence the health of the students very much. You can scarcely find a student without catarrh of the stomach. Such life favours to the terrible increase of tuberculosis and typhus. Greater part of the students have had them. Anemia, malaria and eye-sight illnesses are quite usual phenomena among them. After three years of such a life the state will receive only the invalids good for nothing who are the burden for the country and for themselves.” Such is the characteristic of the students given by [Martin Ivanovich] Latzis–one of the cruellest red terrorists in Pravda, June 4, 1924. See also Isvestia, No. 260, 1922. Iakovleff: The Village As It Is, 1923, and other Bolshevist publications in which they state their complete failure and complete disorganization of the instruction and education in Russia. The description of the University­-life see in my Leaves from a Russian Diary.

 

— Pitirim A Sorokin, The Sociology of Revolution (J. B. Lippincott Company, 1925), footnote, pg. 345

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

May 2020

 

 

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See also my post:
“Darkness, Despair, Death Grip Russian Educators” (Sorokin on Russian universities, post-Revolution)

 

https://pitirimsorokin.com/2019/03/24/darkness-despair-death-grip-russian-educators-sorokin-on-russian-univerities-post-revolution/

Preface, etc. – Sorokin, “Social Mobility” (1927)

 

 

Preface, etc. – ‘Social Mobility’

 

 

See downloadable PDF file, above.

 

 

I have obtained a rare copy of Sorokin’s groundbreaking work Social Mobility (1927), which was later republished as  Social and Cultural Mobility.

The characteristic vigorous Sorokin style is already on display here.

I was struck by the following passage from Sorokin’s  preface:

 

Speculative sociology is passing over. An objective, factual, behavioristic, and quantitative sociology is successfully superseding it. This explains why I have tried to avoid basing my statements on the data of “speech reactions” only; why in the book there is not much of speculative psychologizing and philosophizing; why, wherever it has been possible to obtain reliable quantitative data, I have preferred to use them instead of purely qualitative description. For the same reason I have tried to avoid an “illustrative” method, consisting in confirmation of a statement by one or two illustrative facts. Still used extensively in sociology this “method” has been responsible for many fallacious theories it the field of social sciences. It is time to declare a real war on this “plague of sociology.” Trying to avoid it I have endeavored to support each of my principal statements by at least a brief survey of the whole field of the pertinent facts and by indicating at least the minimum of literature where further factual corroboration may be found. When I have not been sure that a certain relationship is general or firmly established, I have stressed its local or hypothetical character.

Another “plague” of sociological theories has been their permeation with “preaching or evaluating judgments” of what is good and what is bad, what is “useful” and what is “harmful.” Sociological literature is inundated with “preaching works,” 90 per cent of which are nothing but mere speculation, often quite ignorant, given in the name of science. As the primary task of any science is to face the facts as they really exist; and as such “preaching” only compromises the science itself, it must be avoided by all who care for and understand what science means. This explains why the book, with the exception of a very few casual remarks, is free from such “preaching.”

Trying to face the facts I naturally do not care at all whether my statements are found to be “reactionary” or “radical,” “optimistic” or “pessimistic.” Are they true or not-this is the only thing that is important in science. If disfiguring the facts of sociology in the interests of the upper classes is a crime against science, no less a crime is disfiguring the reality in the interests of the lower classes. Either of these crimes should be fought by scientific sociology.

 

 

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The emphasis on a scientific, statistical, quantitative approach to sociology — reflecting trends in Russian and European sociology by which Sorokin was influenced — is evident.

‘[I]n the book there is not much of speculative psychologizing and philosophizing … wherever it has been possible to obtain reliable quantitative data, I have preferred to use them instead of purely qualitative description,” Sorokin writes. He inveighs against the “plague” of sociological theories permeated with “preaching or evaluating judgments.”

Yet, it can be said — in fact, I think it is undeniable — that in Sorokin’s later works can be found just such characteristics (those he criticizes here), as he shifted from dry quantitative sociology to what might called sociology and social/historical philosophy in the grand manner.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

flight from the cities

 

 

 

… the population of Moscow amounted on February 1, 1917 to 2,017,000; on August 26. 1920 it was only 1,028,000. In Petrograd there were before the revolution 2,420,000 people; in 1918-1,469,000; in 1919-900,000; in 1920–740,000. V. the Red Moscow and the Statistical Materials for Petrograd, Vol. V, p. 19. Altogether about eight millions left the towns in the period from 1918 to 1920 (See the miscellany During 5 Years, 1922, p. 295).

 

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, The Sociology of Revolution, footnote, 244

 

 

 

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Newspaper stories are saying that the Coronavirus epidemic has already caused some people to abandon cities like my own beloved New York.

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

prefaces, Pitirim A. Sorokin, “Social and Cultural Dynamics” (1937-1941)

 

 

preface – volume 1

 

 

preface – volume 2

 

 

preface – volume 3

 

 

preface – volume 4

 

 

 

The full text of Pitirim A. Sorokin’s magnum opus, Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-1941), is hard to come by nowadays, except perhaps in a library.

I have transcribed and am posting here (downloadable Word documents above) the text of the four separate prefaces to Volumes One through Four of the Dynamics. They make for very interesting and informative reading — including, and importantly, Sorokin’s conception of sociology and his philosophy of history.

Here’s a typical,stirring passage from the preface to Volume One:

 

This work has grown out of my efforts to understand something of what has been happening in the social and cultural world about me. I am not ashamed to confess that the World War and most of what took place after it were bewildering to one who, in conformity with the dominant currents of social thought of the earlier twentieth century, had believed in progress, revolution, socialism, democracy, scientific positivism, and many other” isms” of the same sort. For good or ill, I fought for these values and paid the penalty. I expected the progress of peace but not of war; the bloodless reconstruction of society but not bloody revolutions; humanitarianism in nobler guise but not mass murders; an even finer form of democracy but not autocratic dictatorships; the advance of science but not of propaganda and authoritarian dicta in lieu of truth; the many-sided improvement of man but not his relapse into barbarism. The war was the first blow to these conceptions. The grim realities of the Russian Revolution provided the second. If anybody had seriously predicted in 1913 a small fraction of what has actually taken place since, he would have been branded then as mad. And yet what then appeared to be absolutely impossible has indeed happened.

 

The supple and vigorous, often eloquent — sometimes grandiose — Sorokin-ian style is on full display here.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

  May 2020

dedication page, “Social and Cultural Dynamics”

 

 

dedication, 'Social and Cultural Dynamics'

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the dedication page of the first volume of Sorokin’s Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937). Peter and Sergei were Sorokin’s sons.

Few would disagree, I am sure, that there was something wonderful — authentic, deep, sincere — about Sorokin the person. And I feel this can be seen in his family and the Russian émigré milieu he and they moved in: their closest associates and friends.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

Sorokin on The Living Church of Russia (Живая Церковь), Christian Advocate, 1923

 

 

‘The Living Church of Russia’ – The Christian Advocate 11-15-1923

 

 

Sorokin, ‘Does the Church of Russia Present a Religious Opportunity’ – Christian Advocate

 

 

The Living Church of Russia – Wikipedia

 

 

The attached downloadable Word documents (above) are self-explanatory.

 

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   April 2020

Sorokin on human emotions in a time of plague

 

 

That bubonic plague, typhus, fever, influenza, smallpox, and other serious diseases alter the sensations, emotions, and feelings of their victims need not be demonstrated. The general characteristic of the change induced by all these diseases is the pain, fear of death, delirium, and sense of weakness experienced by the victim. Apart from this common trait, each of the main epidemics discloses its own pattern of transformation of the victim’s sensations, feelings, and emotions. For our purposes it is unnecessary to characterize the specific changes produced by each of these diseases. It suffices to say that all the important pestilences profoundly transform the emotional and affective life of the patient. This transformation is due nor only to the biological forces of the sickness itself but also to the profound change in the social relationships of the victim. He suddenly finds himself isolated from almost all his fellow men, often even the members of his family. His condition plunges him into a sort of social vacuum. Hundreds of persons with whom he was linked by the ties of friendship and attachment, business, and common interests now try to avoid him. The victim is in the position of a spider whose web has been torn asunder. The former subject–or active participant in social life–is turned into a helpless object, avoided, forsaken, and repellent. He ceases to form a part of society. Socially he is already dead though he is still alive biologically.

 

Regardless of the biological factors, this abrupt psychosocial lonesomeness, this social death, is alone sufficient to create the profoundest change in the victim’s affective and emotional life. Even gradual psychosocial isolation alters the whole mental life of persons so profoundly that often it drives people to commit suicide. As a matter of fact, psychosocial isolation is the primary cause of so-called “egotistic” suicide. Vastly more profound is the change created by the psychosocial isolation due to pestilence. It comes abruptly; it isolates the victim suddenly. It effects a thoroughgoing revolution in the mental life of the victim.

 

Pestilence affects also the emotional life of all those who are in contact with the sick. Their emotional tone is also profoundly disturbed. Anxiety, sorrow, and fear, sympathy for the sick and egoistic concern for their own safety, hope and despair, mounting depression alternating with outursts of macabre exhilaration, irritability, and fatalistic resignation, emotional excitation and dullness, a reckless “devil may care” attitude and intense religiosity–these and similar waves of emotion sweep over the society ravaged by a pestilence. As in famine, its emotional life becomes unstable, jumpy, and uneven, subject to contrasting moods and violent changes. This instability and these contrasting emotional changes are probably the most important characteristics of such a society from the sociological standpoint.

 

 

— Pitirim A. Sorokin, Man and Society in Calamity (1942)

 
posted by Roger W. Smith, April 2020

 

I wish to thank Valery E. Sharapov for calling my attention to this passage.