Discussion of Small's "The Future of Sociology"
Emory S. Bogardus
University of Southern California
The future of sociology, from the standpoint of the present writer, depends on many factors, but only three can be mentioned here. These are: (I) the quality of the persons who are attracted as teachers into the field of sociological thought; (2) the quality of the thinking which sociologists do; and (3) the degree to which sociologists co-operate in working out the perplexing problems of social life.
1. If it is true that the teacher is more important than the subject which is being taught, then the quality and extent of hearing which sociology will receive depends in part upon the type of men and women who become teachers in the field. It is not enough to touch the brightest student on the shoulder,
( 199) encourage him to take several years of postgraduate work, and set him to the task of teaching the nature of social processes and of solving social problems, when in truth he has had little opportunity to know about either in a first-hand way.
If the future of sociology is to measure up to expectations, then only those individuals will be encouraged to enter the field as teachers who possess in addition to an ability to do abstract thinking, and a thorough training, a well-balanced personality—a personality which breathes a spirit of wholesomeness and of rational enthusiasm, and which renders unselfish devotion.
2. In the next place, the future of sociology depends upon the quality of thinking which sociologists do. That thinking will be dualistic in the sense it will be both abstract and concrete, the one continuously in harmony with the other. The sociologists are continuously in need of correlating abstract thinking with laboratory activities. The demand upon departments of sociology is increasingly in this direction. One department of sociology has recently reorganized its activities providing for a correlation of sociological thought and social practice. It is organizing its courses of study, not according to the subjects which are taught (as is customary), but according to the types of preparation which these subjects afford. For example: It has a research division, training students for pure investigation work in both social theory and practice. It has a teaching division, offering preliminary training for the teaching of sociology, and the sociological foundation for the teaching of history, English literature, and so forth. It has an Americanization division for the preparation of Americanization workers and home teachers. It has a professional social-work division for the training of case workers and institutional workers. It has a special religious-social-work division for the preparation of social-service workers in the churches and in the mission fields. It has a cultural division for those students who wish to lay a foundation in sociology before specializing along professional lines.
Sociological thinking of the future will be dualistic in the sense that it will recognize that the social process is characterized by a juxtaposition of both conflict and co-operation forces with neither in absolute dominance, but with the latter possessing a stronger claim to control over life-processes. Sociological thinking will be dualistic in that it will consider life first as process and second as organization. It will be dualistic in that it will treat life as both material and spiritual, the first phase being more subject to scientific inquiry, and the second, to philosophic thought.
Sociological thinking of the future will be dualistic in that it will be primarily objective and yet to a certain extent subjective. It will be objective in so far as life's activities can be measured in terms of behavior. Nevertheless, it will be keenly aware that probably not all about life can be told in terms of objectivity and behavior. Sociological thinking will be dualistic in that no detail of life will be too minute to escape its attention, and in that no issue will be considered too world-wide to be intangible and, hence, to be disregarded.
( 200) Without repudiating the values in the terms such as the individual, or the family, but with renewed emphasis upon these, even upon the virtues of nationality, and upon working out a eudemic program of national welfare, the sociologists of the future will be better able, perhaps, than any other group of thinkers to develop the concept of world-community with all its corollary concepts, and to lead the way in the dissemination of these concepts.
The world which has been thinking, and still is thinking, in the main, in local, provincial terms, finds itself face to face with world-problems it cannot understand, with which at present it seemingly is helpless to cope, and which cannot be settled until considered in the light of a clear analysis of the world social process. Neither a League of Nations nor any other form of an association of nations can function well as long as the majority of the people who live within the boundaries of these nations are controlled by provincial thinking and by racial prejudice.
To those persons who live on the Pacific Coast, this problem is peculiarly vital. During the past few years we have witnessed the impact, particularly in California, of two civilizations upon each other—that of the West and that of the East, the occidental and the oriental. The result of the impact, in the by and large, has been that each civilization has rebounded upon itself. The visible results seem to be encompassed largely in two impenetrable smoke-screens of misunderstanding and prejudice. Moreover, and peculiarly enough, these smoke-screens do not even commingle. Such an outcome does not presage telic progress. Until the average individual can view the daily items of life in relation to their world-significance, and until the sociologists or some other group of thinkers lead the way in making clear these matters, world-progress is bound to be halting and erratic.
3. In the third place, the future of sociology depends on the degree to which sociologists co-operate. The efforts of the committees such as those which have reported at this meeting of our Society represent a splendid beginning, but after all only a beginning. Sociologists have often belied the implications of their science by working away with a high degree of independence. They have used terminology independently, in fact very independently of the impression such terminology often makes upon the minds of average intelligent citizens, of those citizens whose support must be secured if the future of sociology is to be safeguarded, The ordinary citizen expects the chemist or physicist to use unintelligent terms, but, on the other hand, he asks the sociologist to speak about the profoundest social processes in simple and lucid ways.
A few days ago I heard three university professors of social science discussing the meaning of that highly important term "socialization." Each gave an explanation which apparently was distinctly different from the attitudes of the other two. The discussion was about to enter into meticulous distinctions and perhaps end acrimoniously, when a professor of English literature, a
( 201) chemist, and a biologist, who were listeners, burst out simultaneously in laughter, agreeing that the term "socialization" had better be discarded. Is it not time for sociologists to unite upon the meaning of their most useful concepts?
Is it not time, also, that sociologists co-operate in coming to an agreement concerning the subject-matter of their science ? Perhaps that agreement exists, but what percentage of the scholars outside the field of sociology and what percentage of average intelligent laymen would grant to the sociologists that distinction? Our science is young, to be sure, and our pathfinding efforts need to take on new vigor, but, on the other hand, is there not need at this point for extensive and intensive co-operation if the future of sociology is to be made secure ?
For many decades we shall have teachers of sociology publishing textbooks for the course of study commonly known as Sociology I in the colleges and universities. Nevertheless, certain lines of demarcation in procedure are becoming evident. In this connection progress will be greatly furthered by co-operative efforts. Another problem for co-operative consideration is this: What is the relation of social psychology to sociology ? Is it an open gate to sociology or is it one-half of the field ? Still another problem is: What are the essentials of behavioristic psychology which all sociologists need to know and to accept at once in order that their work may go forward in unified strength ?
Is there not need, therefore, for committees and for round-table discussions in our society on such questions as have been indicated, namely, standardization of terminology, the precise field of Sociology I course in colleges and universities, the relation of social psychology to sociology, behavioristic theories? Moreover, I should like to be at least a listener in a round-table discussion on the deeply fundamental system of sociology that was presented yesterday by Professor Giddings. Furthermore, I for one should like to hear a round-table discussion of some of the chief ideas in Professor Ross's new, unique, and original Principles of Sociology. And thus the fields for co-operative effort open up in rapid succession.
I should like to mention one other need for co-operation among sociologists, and that is, in applying their knowledge to the solving of life's problems. Today, for example, the American people are contributing to funds to prevent starvation in Europe and Asia, but, may I ask ,how many sociologists are at work upon the vastly more fundamental problem of how to make the world safe from famine altogether? Must we go on forever contributing to famine funds? In this country the middle classes, as well as the poor, are suffering from a housing problem, but how many sociologists are co-operating in working-out programs which will prevent for all time the rise of a literally world-wide housing problem ?
In closing, I should say that the future of sociology is pretty largely in the hands of present-day sociologists. They have urged telic programs for society, for cities, for rural communities. Why shouldn't they enter upon a
( 202) more telic program for sociology itself ? Why shouldn't they, through committees and discussions, summarize from year to year the progress that is being made in each of a few leading phases of sociological thinking ? Why shouldn't they in a co-operative way annually chart out the dangers and the problems that are immediately ahead for sociology? Why shouldn't they arrange each year for co-operative effort in the main phases of their subject where co-operative efforts will count most ?