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

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

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.

“Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis” by P. A. Sorokin (1938)

 

 

 

Sorokin, ‘Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis’ – Harvard Alumni Bulletin

 

 

 

Posted here (above) is the following downloadable PDF file:

 

“Contemporary Social and Cultural Crisis”

By Dr. P. A. Sorokin, Professor of Sociology

Harvard Alumni Bulletin

Vol. XL, No. 16

February 4, 1938

1. 512-514

 

 

Sorokin gave this address in December 1937 as part of a series of radio talks

 

 

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We have here Sorokin writing in the characteristic style of the years following the publication of his Social and Cultural Dynamics, the fist three volumes of which were published in 1937 —  a style that foreshadows that of The Crisis of Our Age, which was published in 1941.

Scholars currently studying Sorokin’s early works in Russian are learning more about his career as a writer. Overlooked (mostly) in the past was the early journalistic experience he had. Sorokin qua writer is a topic that deserves study. One will find, I believe, both strengths and weaknesses.

The fact that Sorokin wrote the majority of his major works in a second language is not something to be ignored. Even in this rather straightforward article, there can be seen occasional infelicities in grammar and wording.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   August 2019

 

 

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addendum:

 

An article of interest — in Russian — which I have not yet seen has recently been published:

 

Американский этап лингвистической биографии Питирима Сорокина (“The American Stage of Pitirim Sorokin’s Linguistic Biography”)

 

by Сергиева Н.С. (Natalia S. Sergieva)

 

Полилингвиальность и транскультурные практики (Polylinguality and Transcultural Practices)

 

Vol. 16, No..1 (2019), pp. 35-44

 

 

Abstract:

 

The article discusses the features of the bilingualism of an eminent sociologist of the twentieth century Pitirim Sorokin in the American period of his life. The purpose of the study is to identify and explain the linguistic features of his scientific thinking in connection with the development of his scientific worldview. The study is based on the materials of Pitirim A. Sorokin Collection at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Archival manuscripts and research notes allow us to trace the process of changing the language and switching codes in the professional activities of Pitirim Sorokin after moving to the United States of America. It has been established that the use of a mixed metalanguage by Pitirim Sorokin can be considered as additional evidence of the continued connection with the Russian period of his life and scientific activity. Russian remained for him a tool of scientific thinking, planning and management.

Sorokin and Defoe (and Winston Churchill)

 

 

 

 

imageedit_1_2520341161.jpg

 

 

Daniel Defoe’s customary skill as a writer was to speak in the voices of others. His novels are only the most famous examples of the first-person accounts, memoirs, and polemics that he fabricated throughout his career. Memoirs of a Cavalier is a special example because it took the pursuit of authenticity–which is the standard of all Defoe’s novels–to its limits. So successfully did it mimic the voice of the seventeenth-century soldier of fortune who is its narrator, that for over half a century the memoirs were considered to be genuine. The struggle of this narrator to turn his observations into facts, to make a certain history of his uncertain experiences, was so well caught that, as one of its eighteenth-century editors declared, “tis a Romance the likest to Truth that I ever read’. It is this struggle, as much as the battles and adventures which comprise the Cavalier’s story, that gives this narrative its dramatic qualities.

 

— back cover copy; Daniel Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier, or a Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and The Wars in England; From the Year 1632, to the Year 1648 (World’s Classics Edition; Oxford University Press 1991)

 

 

 

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In my post

 

“Sorokin” (“Сорокин”)

 

https://pitirimsorokin.com/2018/02/03/sorokin%d1%81%d0%be%d1%80%d0%be%d0%ba%d0%b8%d0%bd/

 

 

I wrote:

“Leaves from A Russian Diary,” which details Sorokin’s experiences as a revolutionary opponent of the Czarist government, an official in the short lived Kerensky government, and an anti-Bolshevik, was a work that I could not put down. It has a cogency and dramatic interest, being written at white heat, so to speak, that make it compelling. It reads live a novel, a sort of “Les Misérables” minus about a thousand pages. l feel that it is an underrated book and could never understand why it never achieved a wide readership. For me, it is the best book on the Russian Revolution, the only one I practically ever read about it, in fact. It made me feel what the revolution must have been like. I regard it as a classic, and I felt it was very well written, much more so than when Sorokin was writing as a scholar.

The analogy to Defoe, applied to Sorokin’s reminiscences of the February Revolution and it’s immediate aftermath, is very apt. I am happy to say that I have just recently interested a literarily minded friend in reading Leaves from a Russian Diary, a book I couldn’t put down.

 

 

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In his preface to The Second World War: The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1948), Winston S. Churchill wrote:

I have followed, as in previous volumes, as far as I am able, the method of Defoe’s Memoirs of a Cavalier, in which the author hangs the chronicle and discussion of great military and political events upon the thread of the personal experiences of an individual. I am perhaps the only man who has passed through both the two supreme cataclysms of recorded history in high Cabinet office. Whereas, however, in the First World War I filled responsible but subordinate posts, I was for more than five years in this second struggle with Germany the Head of His Majesty’s Government. I write, therefore, from a different standpoint and with more authority than was possible in my earlier books.

Precisely the same as Leaves from a Russian Diary. Both Sorokin and Churchill were participant-observers.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   February 2019

“Denies U.S. Recognition Will Bring Soviet Trade” (article by Sorokin, Washington Post, 1922)

 

 

article by Sorokin – Wash Post 4-26-1925

 

 

Denies U.S. Recognition Will Bring Soviet Trade

Kerensky’s Former Secretary Shows Russia Was Never Big Customer Here.

Recognized by Berlin, German Figures Fall.

Data Reveal that Diplomatic Intercourse Has Little Bearing on Business.

America, Now Second in List of Concessions, Existing Mainly on Paper.

Of Little Value Now; Less in the Future.

Will Be Repudiated, Thinks Prof. Sorokin, By Next Russian Regime.

 

By Pitirim Sorokin, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota, and Former Private Secretary of the Russian Prime Minister Kerenksy.

The Washington Post, Apr 26, 1925, pg. E3

 

 

PITIRIM O. [sic] SOROKIN, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, left Russia in October, 1922. Before the Russian revolution, he was a member of the social revolutionary party in Russia. He has been arrested three times by agents of the czar, and later as many times by the communist rulers.

While professor sociology in the University of Petrograd, he was also editor of the newspaper “Will of the People.” During the revolution, he was one of the organizers and a member of the executive committee of the first all-Russian peasants soviet, a member of the council of the republic and of the constitutional assembly, in addition to being private secretary to Prime Minister Kerensky.

 

 

The entire article is posted (above) as a downloadable PDF file.

 

 

posted by Roger W. Smith