Schools of Sociology
Luther Lee Bernard
I believe there never has been a time more fit for stock taking and the evaluation of probable trends in the future of sociology than the present. The old speculative era in sociology is now practically closed and positive advance in the direction of factual analysis and inductive generalization is rapidly taking place. The sociologists, who were so often the butt of the somewhat acrid jokes of the historians, ecônomists, and political scientists of a generation ago, have succeeded in supplying the last two social sciences with the methods for transforming their outworn classical speculations into institutional economics and political psychology respectively, and even history is transforming herself in no small measure into so-called "current social history." Anthropology is rapidly becoming social anthropology or cultural sociology, and sociological jurisprudence threatens to remold the tradition of the common law into an understandable theory of justice and a practicable instrument of human social adjustment. The theory of education is being changed from the art of school keeping into a sociological science of curriculum-making and socialized personality building. A subject which has played never a secondary rôle in the rehumanization of so many sister social sciences may well pause to examine the fundamental principles and trends of its methods and subject matter and seek perspective for its future development by means of a glance at the major schools of theory of the past.
Since the time of the great Greek enlightenment there have been schools of social philosophy, although we may not properly regard these early schools as sociological in a scientific sense. The ancient schools were primarily metaphysical. The earliest of these was initiated by the Sophists and may be called the Critical School of social philosophy, for its function was to replace the old traditional and mythological explanations of human relations by an account which could be expressed in terms of human relations themselves and explained as the product of human reason. Protagoras insisted that man (not the gods) was the measure of all things and that public opinion is the chief guide and moralizing agency of civilization. Socrates constantly invoked the principle of reason as over against the voice of tradition, and although he paid for his theory, which was supposed to be irreligious and to corrupt the youth, with his life, his message has never been forgotten. Epicurus implied that society was of human origin by advancing a theory of social contract, while the philosopher Lucretius boldly asserted an evolutionary scheme by which society developed  and proclaimed that man made the gods, meaning of course the Greek gods, which were those of his people. These social philosophers of the critical school created a culture history and a new logic of social thinking to serve as a bridge over which to bring the procession of human social thought from an old
( 119) mythology to a new theory of society built upon a metaphysics of reason.
The men of this school necessarily did more in the way of clearing the ground for a new social structure than in actually rearing it. This more constructive work was to be performed by their successors of the Idealistic or Utopistic school. They built on the ground cleared by their analytical predecessors. It is of the greatest significance that the first real treatise on human society, Plato's Republic, should have been a confessed attempt to describe an ideal society founded on reason instead of on traditions. The greatness of Plato as a social philosopher is not to be measured by the adequacy of his social model for our age, or indeed for any age, but by the boldness and the novelty of his idealistic vision. The impulse thus given to visualize a new social order engendered in the principles of reason and freed from the tyranny of the dead hand of the past did not quickly die, but has come down to the present day, perhaps with renewed strength, in spite of all of the plans for privilege that pervert the name of righteousness in our time. The theories of universal brotherhood  and of a society based on natural logic of the Stoics ; the voice of Jesus crying out in a wilderness as broad as the world and as long as all time since that day, that not ritual but life is the measure of righteousness,  epitomizing his doctrine in the phrase, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath"; the visions of More, of Francis Bacon, of Campanella from his prison, and of the countless reformers of our body social growing ever greater in number, bear witness to the strength of this stream of human idealism which has now become a great river, perhaps some day to become the sea.
But if these men were dreamers rather than scientists, the ancient world was also not without its systematic social philosophers. There was Aristotle, who disciplined the enthusiasm of
( 120) his master Plato with the rigors of investigation and logic. He perhaps was, methodologically speaking, our first constructive sociologist. He studied and described things as they were in the concrete in order that he might induce principles for the moulding and control of the future of society. He laid the foundations, although somewhat meagre and sometimes unsound, on which social philosophy was to be built by the best architects for more than a thousand years—in fact, in many instances, until well into the nineteenth century. If at last in the Middle Ages his method was perverted into the scholastic sterility of verbal analogy, as is so often evident for example in the thinking of Dante, or if in all times his theory of the four-fold relations has been canonized into an ipse dixit by professional defenders of the status quo, it is but another evidence of the fact that all things—even philosophy—should change and be rejuvenated by new methods and new basic ideas.
These much needed new methods and new ideas came into being with the rebirth or renaissance which has characterized all modern thinking. If the old schools of social philosophy were characteristically metaphysical, appealing as they did to an absolutistic and a prioristic reason as against mythology and tradition, the new schools arising out of the renaissance have been primarily and increasingly inductive and scientific, appealing to fact as against a prioristic logic and artificial absolutistic values. Of the ten new schools that I shall outline briefly here, only the first two may be regarded as primarily metaphysical and deductive. The other eight attempted to be inductive and were either characterized by increasing success or were finally abandoned.
The first of the new metaphysical schools, that of the Social Contract, was not entirely new. It had well determined roots in the theories of Epicurus, who sought to build an interpretation of society which would place the emphasis upon human interrelationships rather than upon the relationship of man to some
( 121) personality or power outside of himself and his functional setting. Unhistorical and aprioristic as was this theory of the social contract, it served the purpose for which it was invented—that of freeing man's social relationships from control by external and hostile authority—and then it disappeared into that archeological museum of theories which are the delight of the especially erudite. In more recent times it has been given a renewed quasi existence in the form of the tendency from status to contract, as Henry Sumner Maine described it. As an historical explanation of social origins it has of course never had any standing; but as a fictional device to secure a new orientation of human development it was very effective.
The Ethical-Philosophical school which matured in the theories of the French and Scotch philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries proved to be a genuine forerunner of modern sociology. The "law of nature and of nations,' and its eighteenth century philosophical offspring, the social-ethical-theological discipline of moral philosophy, were together the
( 122) nearest approach to a study of social problems that appeared before the middle of the nineteenth century. Early in the fourth quarter of that century a shift in intellectual orientation from the philosophic and metaphysical to the scientific, and the previous appearance of the new discipline called Social Science, caused moral philosophy as a college discipline to break up and to be redistributed into a number of other subjects, particularly into Social Science, ethics, social ethics, Christian ethics, Christian sociology, and secular sociology, the last named especially in the forms of charities and penology. The function of moral philosophy, as of its predecessor the law of nature, had been to substitute an ethical and constructive viewpoint in dealing with human relations for the old formal and legalistic viewpoint which had sprung from the practice of social control through custom and tradition. The conflict between natural law and positive or common law theories was always marked, and the struggle of natural law for dominance over positive or political law in the control of human affairs was in essence a struggle of functional ethics against tradition, and it was not unrelated in its origin to the struggle of the papacy to control the civil power, which at its best may have meant somewhat the same thing. Moral philosophy was in some sense the Protestant analogue of the Catholic natural law in this struggle of the spiritual to dominate the temporal and the material. If the struggle in this metaphysical form was lessened by the disappearance of the old moral philosophy toward the end of the nineteenth century it was only because of, the rise
( 123) of a social science to continue the struggle on a non-metaphysical or scientific basis.
The other later schools of social philosophy and of sociology have been increasingly, if not exclusively, inductive or scientific in approach. The Philosophy of History school, which had its first definite formulation in the Scienza Nuova of Vico in 1725, was an attempt to discover the supposed uniformities or natural laws in human society by an examination of historic data. Although based on a metaphysical assumption of an underlying uniform natural order of society, the method employed to discover this natural order was ostensibly inductive. The new philosophy of history, which promised so much at this time for the better understanding and guidance of human society was extremely popular for a period of something over one hundred years. It was especially popular in France, where interest in the study of mankind was then greatest. But it was destined to fail to afford the guidance needed, especially in an increasingly complex age in which ceaseless change threw a larger problem of explanation upon the present than upon the past. The interpretation of historical data thus proved inadequate as the basis of a sociology, because of the insufficiency and inaccuracy of the historical data themselves, and especially because it was not history but the present that men wished to understand. A hundred years ago the historians turned from generalization to research and verification, and today they are turning from history to contemporary data, following the lead of the sociologists. With the increased supply of historical data, as the result of a century of research, there has recently been something of a trend back toward the inductive generalization of historical data, but this movement has been undertaken more often by the historians than by the sociol-
( 124) -ogists proper, who are engaged primarily in the generalization of contemporary data.
Moreover, it began to be apparent to men in the eighteenth century that human behavior was not predetermined abstractly in the womb of the universe according to a universal cultural pattern (natural law), but that it varied everywhere and at all times according to the circumstances of the environment, especially of the natural environment. This recognition gave rise to the school of Anthropogeographers, of whom Montesquieu  is universally recognized as the first extensive systematizer, although not the first precursor. Although brilliant work was done by Buckle Ratzel, Semple, Huntington  and many others in this field, it has long been recognized that not natural environment, but the social environment, is of predominate importance in determining the social behavior of man. In spite, however, of this evident pre-eminence of the social environment in the determination of collective behavior, it was not until within the last decade that there has been any consistent attempt to analyze and classify the social environments. The best impetus of the old anthropogeography is now being absorbed and transformed by the new sociological
( 124) field known as human ecology and is continued in what is now called human or social geography.
The Biological school, which is a product primarily of the nineteenth century, has had many branches or phases. The oldest form is the doctrine of instinct, which was in its origin an attempt only partly conscious, to maintain on a naturalistic basis the metaphysical doctrine of the predestination of human behavior and the predetermination of human behavior patterns in the germ plasm. This metaphysical dogma, masquerading as scientific naturalism, has been only recently exploded, and the echo is just now beginning to disturb the slumbers of some of the more sleepy sociologists. The biological analogy of the organismic theorists, espoused early in his career by Spencer, and later by Schäffle, Lilienfeld, and others, was perhaps never regarded as anything more than a convenient method of illustrating by means of an analogy the unity and interdependence of men and of institutions in society. The Eugenics theory, which assumed the inheritance of all desirable mental, moral, and social traits and the possibility of breeding them selectively, has now gone the way largely of the theory of instinct. It is finally recognized that the building of desirable societies is primarily a euthenic or
( 125) cultural rather than primarily a eugenic or biological inheritance problem. Biology has its place, but its place is primarily in biology rather than in sociology.
The Practical or Applied schools of sociology are also fairly numerous. They began, as previously remarked, in moral philosophy, where such subjects as poverty, crime, domestic relations, education, and democracy or government were discussed. The new synthetic subject of Social Science appeared at about the middle of the nineteenth century, being drawn together from moral philosophy, political economy, and the subject matter of various social problems which were then making their appearance due to the maturing of the industrial revolution. I have shown elsewhere  how courses in Social Science sprang up in the colleges and universities in the seventies and eighties, and how departments of Social Science began to be established. But this movement passed its zenith about 1890 and began to give way to sociology, and especially to applied sociology, including such courses as criminology, charities, immigration, labor problems, and social legislation. This Social Science movement had also given birth to the National Prison Association  and to the National Conference of Charities and Correction, the latter of which especially fostered the movement now known as social work, which is itself developing into an academic discipline more or less sociological in character.
The Social Science movement, technically speaking, had attempted to be systematic rather than vaguely philosophic and discursive. Consequently it gave indirectly a strong impetus to what may be called the Methodological school of sociology in its early phases. Statistics had received attention before the founding of the American Social Science Association in 1865, but this organization rehabilitated the subject and gave a new impetus to the American Statistical Association. It also gave to the statistical method abundant problems to work with. Carroll D. Wright applied the method to his labor studies  and under Mayo-Smith at Columbia Social Science and statistics became almost indistinguishable. It was in connection with practical or applied sociology that the statistical method has had its chief application to sociology until recently. It is now applied to pure science studies or research in sociology as well, both in the form of social surveys and in the correlation of specialized data. As a result of practical work with statistics it became evident that there was much sociological material that could not be effectively sampled for statistical manipulation. To handle this material as adequately and as rigorously as possible, in the absence of an accurate sampling process, the case method of intensive and comparative study was perfected. Some case method enthusiasts were for a while inclined to regard case studies as superior to statistical studies, but it is now pretty generally agreed that the case
( 128) method is applicable primarily to the analysis of either extremely irregular or highly uniform types of phenomena and is usually preliminary to statistical generalization rather than a normal substitute for it. Both methods function constantly in modern scientific or inductive sociological investigation.
The Psychological school of sociology developed originally to supplement the anthropogeographic and the philosophy of history schools. It became necessary on the one hand to work out the method by which social principles and institutions manifested themselves in the minds of men in the process of historical development. Vico gave much attention to this question, asserting that the Greek and Roman divinities symbolized social concepts and values, and Vico's successors extended his psycho-sociological interpretations. On the other hand, when it began to be manifest that the natural environment was not the direct cause of collective behavior, men like Bagehot, and Tarde, Le Bon  and Ross  began to study the mechanics of psycho-social processes. It was these collective psychologists who first gave form and definition to the psychological school of sociology, although it is doubtful if they were very conscious of the fact that they were dealing with a form of social environment and that they were substituting this social environment in their explanatory sociological theory for the old natural environments of the anthropogeographers. It is absolutely certain that they never made the evolutionary connection between the natural environments and the psycho-social environment or understood how the latter was derived from the former.
When the psychological school of sociology passed out of the stage of collective psychological analysis into that of the study of the development of personality traits as a phase of the individual's adjustment to his psycho-social and other cultural environments, the psychological school began to merge into the
( 129) behavioristic school on the one hand and into the cultural school on the other. The behavioristic and the cultural schools are now dominant in sociology and they will therefore claim more attention than the other schools treated in this paper.
The Behavioristic school is not, as some of the surviving adherents of the older schools appear to imagine, chiefly concerned with destructive criticism and in particular with an attempt to destroy social values and social adjustments. This view of the matter is based on what seems to be a complete misapprehension of the motives and aims of the behavioristic school. Its members are concerned first and last with an analysis of the methods by which the individual born into a social world achieves an effective adjustment to that world. The study of this problem involves an analysis of the social environments into which the individual is born and which condition and therefore integrate his personality. It analyzes and describes the adjustment processes which are utilized in this conditioning-adaptation process. It studies both culture patterns and behavior patterns. And, finally, it analyzes the mechanics of collective or group contacts and organization which serve as the conditioning processes within which the developing personality achieves his mental and moral and social majority, or fails to achieve it. Thus it is clear that the behavioristic sociologist, concerned as he is with the mechanics of the adjustment process, is the most constructive and the least destructive of all sociologists. If by chance he discovers some old culture patterns that serve as poor or positively bad ideals and some behavior patterns that are positively inefficient means of adaptation and adjustment, surely society is but the gainer by having these facts pointed out and by having better patterns indicated for its use.
Human ecology, which owes so much to a reconstitution and to a functionalization of the old anthropogeography, with the in-
( 130) -troduction of the concept, or at least the fact of coadaptation  and interconditioning, is a phase of behaviorist sociology. It is a term used to describe some of the wider collective responses to all types of environment as well as the mechanics of individual adjustment and personality integration and interchange. The latter may properly be described as social psychology, as it is now understood by the sociologist, as distinguished from individual psychology. Early essays in this behavioristic direction were undertaken by Baldwin  and Cooley, while a more conscious attempt at a behavioristic development of social psychology from the adjustment standpoint may be found in the writer's work by that name. The completest attempt at a behavioristic sociology covering the human ecology rather than the specifically psychological aspects, is undoubtedly the Dawson and Gettys text.
The Cultural school of sociology has also appropriated much from the old psychological school, more even than has the behaviorist school. It has borrowed almost intact the old collective psychology's concept of the social environment, without naming
( 131) it such. Its substitution of the word culture for this social environment is probably due to the fact that a very active section of the forerunners of this cultural school were of European—particularly of German—origin and brought over the Hegelian concept of the Zeitgeist and the neo-Hegelian idea of collective representations. Their notion of culture as an underived and original entity undoubtedly springs from this relatively static concept and bears witness to the fact that they have failed to identify it with the behavioristic concept of an evolving social environment.
It is largely an accident that the social anthropologists have until recently played so important a rôle in the development of, or rather in preparing the way for, the cultural school. In fact, the cultural school had its origin with the early sociological theories of Spencer and the generation of sociologists and sociological anthropologists of the eighties and the early nineties. It has remained one of the dominant schools of sociology in England, France, and Germany. But in this country the overwhelming influence of the old Social Science, the demand for practical social reform, and the consequent impulse to study the contemporary facts of life rather than the historical facts or the data of primitive peoples, fostered doubtless by the greater realistic appeal of the former in a new country relatively less trammeled by tradition, led in the past generation to a relatively non-cultural sociology. But the coming of age of anthropology in the meantime as a separate science and the collection of an immense fund of cultural data which demanded interpretation and generalization forced the anthropologists, poorly equipped as they often were for the task, to
( 132) become sociologists. Thus there has been recently a strong tendency for the revival and the perfection of a cultural sociology. Latterly, as a consequence, the sociologists themselves have turned to this field and are beginning to set it in some order. The work of Sumner, Keller, Ogburn, Ellwood, Chapin, and Wallis and Willey is fairly representative of this newer trend.
Although cultural sociology can never be as constructive as behavioristic
sociology, unless it should come to be merged with the latter, it is an
important supplement to it. Since it is concerned primarily with social change
and with maladjustments or lags arising from inequalities in rates of change,
and finally with the inventive process which creates and removes lags in the
cultural adjustment process, the major contacts of cultural sociology with
behaviorist sociology are readily perceived. Perhaps the major service rendered
by cultural sociology is the insight and understanding it affords the student
with regard to the adjustment functioning of his institutions. It enables him to
evaluate their service in the adjustment process and thus to reconstitute them.
In a sense, cultural sociology is a return to the old critical school of the
ancient Greeks, but on a scientific instead of on a metaphysical plane.
Other trends in sociology, such as the sociology of religion, social ethics, educational sociology, urban sociology, and rural
(133) sociology, have not been classified here as schools. The reason is that they, like other trends earlier mentioned, constitute phases of the major schools previously described. The term school is also used with another import, signifying the following developed by some particular man. We have had approximations to schools of this type in this country, especially in the early development of the subject; but such schools have never been as clear cut here as in Europe. The nearest approaches to personal schools this country has afforded since sociology has become a widely accepted academic subject were those of Sumner at Yale and of Park at Chicago. When science is the central interest in a subject it is difficult for personality to assume an overwhelming rôle in its characterization.
A word as to the probable future orientation of sociology in this country may not be out of place. The earlier schools were relatively static. They studied social forms and social ideals, patterns and type relationships, stages and values, concepts and interests, rather than the adjustment process itself. These older schools had their values, perhaps greater than we are sometimes inclined to recognize, but their major contributions were made by the end of the nineteenth century. Men like De Greef, Gumplowiez, Ratzenhofer, Ward, Small, and Simmel closed an era. It was the era of the founders. They were followed by a period of transition which appeared to be relatively sterile, if we look only at the literary output. But it was really a period of incubation, and in two more decades productiveness was again in full swing. In the meantime sociology had become, or was rapidly becoming, behavioristic. The emphasis is increasingly upon adjustment. The other categories are not unimportant, but they are decidedly subsidiary to the primary problem of all life, whether individual or social, that of adjustment.
The new sociology will, I think, emphasize increasingly three things. One of these is methodology. Both Giddings and Small
( 134) saw this in the late nineties of the last century, but their methodology was not the scientific methodology of the future. but the metaphysical conceptual logic of the past. Small never did grasp the new trend, while Giddings later made the transition to the new viewpoint in methodology. But it was too late for him to make use of it. Practically everybody today is interested in scientific methodology.
We should not forget that after all methodology is but a tool, and its proper use is the definition of data and the generalization of them into the principles and formulas which constitute a science. The science itself is, in the last analysis, but a means to an end—the end of adjustment. Therefore, sociology is primarily concerned with subject matter. The two phases of subject matter which are now of chief interest to the sociologist, and which signify the growing maturity of the subject, are social adjustment and social change. This means that the dominant schoolsof sociology today must be the behavioristic and the cultural, and in a general way the former may be conceived as including the latter.