Review of  The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Volume I

Ellsworth Faris

The first volume of this ambitious work, which has been five years in preparation, will merit the favorable reception it is sure to receive. The work is to appear in fifteen volumes at the rate of three volumes a year.

When the project was first discussed there was doubt in the minds of many whether the social sciences had reached a stage of unity sufficient to make an encyclopedia an appropriate form in which their history and progress should be discussed. An examination of the first volume reveals the interesting fact that one motive of the work is the furthering of the unity that exists. The encyclopedia, in addition to expressing what is common and interrelated, will undoubtedly act as a co-ordinating force.

Ten societies sponsored the work, including the National Educational Association, the Association of American Law Schools, the American Psychological Association, the American Statistical Association, the Association of Social Workers, in addition to the five societies which are traditionally called social. The emphasis on the interrelation of these ten groups and their interests was the major purpose in the minds of the editors and the first volume witnesses that this has been kept in mind.

The trend of encyclopedia-making has been away from lengthy and technical articles and in the direction of briefer and more popular treatments of a larger number of subjects. This tendency, which the last edition of the Britannica exemplifies, is quite prominent in the present volume. The specialist will miss anything exhaustive or authoritative, but he will find the brief treatments useful and readable, and the large class of intelligent persons in other walks of life will undoubtedly be attracted.

The editor-in-chief also confesses an ambition to help mold a sounder and better informed public opinion on some of the major questions, and it is refreshing to read the frank and outspoken statements of those who have been selected. Thus; the discussion of alien property does not mince matters in referring to the way in which the Chemical Foundation secured the German patents, and the article on academic freedom is judicially courageous.

The decision to include a generous list of autobiographical sketches will be welcome because in this way many names will become familiar which would otherwise be unknown to any one reader, and, having made this decision, the inclusion of many names of well-known classical writers was necessary, involving, however, much duplication of material which is else-where accessible.

The outstanding feature of Volume I is the introduction which occupies

( 1113) more than half of the space. The introduction is really double, Introduction I being concerned with "The Development of Social Thought and Institutions," and Introduction II with "The Social Sciences as Disciplines." The former is treated historically, tracing the development of social thought from the Greek culture to the post-war reorientation. It is a sort of universal social history, each of the twelve sections being written by a specialist, the whole staff joining in the last one. Here are traced the stages of occidental social thought (the Orient is not included) through Greece and Rome, the ecclesiastical stage, on to the Renaissance, the liberal movement, the revolutions, and capitalism, with nationalism, internationalism, and the World War. Those who wrote the separate sections must have collaborated very carefully, for the unity in treatment is greater than one would have a right to expect.

Introduction II, which traces the development of social sciences as academic subjects, is divided on geographical principles. Every part of Europe is treated except the Balkan states, and there is a section on Japan, one on Latin America, and one on the United States. Herbert W. Schneider writes about Italy under Fascism with a clearly anti-Fascist attitude, while M. Pokrovsky treats of Soviet Russia somewhat more sympathetically. The section on Latin America is written by L. L. Bernard as is also that on the United States. The development of sociology in America is treated by him and also by Professor MacIver in a section in Introduction L The reader will learn of the Année sociologique and its place in the development of sociology, and there is also mention of the English Sociological Review and the Journal of Educational Sociology, a recent and admirable addition to our periodical literature. It was perhaps the reviewer's bias which led him to look for an interpretation of the part played, if any, by the American Journal of Sociology, but no reference is made to the Journal, nor did the search reveal any hint of the existence of the American Sociological Society in the historical discussion. The reader of this will also understand the reviewer's bias when he records the disappointment, not that the work of Albion W. Small and his influence on sociology in America is wrongly interpreted, but that it is practically ignored. There are many who think that the outstanding feature of post-war social science is the extraordinary growth of quantitative methods of work. The reader of the encyclopedia will, however, get almost no hint of such a development.

But these are minor points and no two interpreters can give the same emphasis and perspective. The general impression which this volume gives, in spite of minor defects, is distinctly favorable. It will be a useful vade mecum for every social scientist for many years to come.



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