Social Relations and Social Interaction

Floyd Nelson House
University of Chicago


In a recent article dealing with the sociological vocabulary, Professor Hayes raises some fundamental methodological questions. (1) All sociologists should use technical terms in the same sense. Terms are to be judged by their serviceability, which is measured in part by disjunctiveness, inclusiveness, and fewness of the concepts proposed. Methodology should tend to lead to fresh discoveries. (2) The process of competition is the physical aspect of the social reality; it determines the spatial and economic organization of human society, and affords a starting-point for the study of other social processes. (3) Conflict and accommodation are processes which involve the "personal" type of interaction. Conflict arises out of conflicting claims, and accommodation is the process in which an equilibration of conflict through redefinition of claims is established. (4) Conflict, accommodation, and assimilation are processes in which control is established. Assimilation is the process in which persons develop sympathetic responsiveness to one another's claims. (5) The concepts proposed here are intended to make possible somewhat complete accounts of reactions evoked by social contact. The immediate reduction of the social reality to description in more ultimate terms tends to obscure some of its features. (6) The actual social reality may be abstracted in substantive or in active terms. The reality is in fact a process of becoming, but the concept of becoming, unless broken up into small units connected with types of social interaction, is not serviceable for scientific purposes.

In a recent article, Professor E. C. Hayes of the University of Illinois raises some interesting questions concerning the grammar of social science,[1] using as a text for his remarks passages from certain chapters in the Park and Burgess sociology.[2] He has essentially two suggestions to offer: (1) that thirteen terms which he proposes[3] be used in place of the four, competition, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation; and (2) that the term "social process" be reserved for reference to the evolution or "becoming" of human society, and that other aspects of the social reality which have been called "social processes" be referred to as "social relations."

( 618)


These are important questions, well worth investigation and discussion. All sociologists will agree, of course, that not too great stress should be placed on questions of vocabulary. They will be equally well agreed, however, that we need to establish a universe of discourse; the terms which we use as technical should always have the same meaning. The question of the meanings to be attached to such terms as "social process" and "social relations" is not an altogether trivial one. Furthermore, certain features of Hayes's suggestions involve, in addition to the questions of terminology, fundamental methodological questions. The issues raised by his paper have therefore a twofold significance.

The discussion of Professor Hayes's criticisms and suggestions is rendered more difficult than it would otherwise be by the fact that he does not state what meanings he proposes to assign to some of the thirteen concepts which he names. Nor does he offer descriptions, in every case, of the relations to which he would apply them. Some of them are apparently original with him, revealed to him by "flashes of insight." Others he has obviously and admittedly taken from previous literature. His article gives one the impression that he does not consider either of these methods of deriving terms to be necessarily discreditable, and in this one is constrained to agree with him. Vaihinger has rendered a service to the students of fundamental methods in his statement that concepts are intellectual tools, and that as such they are to be evaluated and selected, rejected, or revised with regard to their utility for the purposes of research or explanation, not with regard to the procedures by which they were derived:

Just at the point where the empirical method of natural science converges on the methods of exact mechanics and abstract physics, and where on the other hand they approach the complicated phenomena of social life, the insufficiency of purely inductive methods is clearly manifest. It is here that methods begin which represent a higher synthesis of deduction and induction, where, that is to say, both these methods are united in the endeavor to solve difficulties which can only be overcome indirectly.

We make a distinction between rules and artifices of thought. In other functions also this distinction is of value; the rules are the totality of all those

(619)     technical operations in virtue of which an activity is able to attain its object directly, even when more or less complicated. In logic too we call such operations, and in particular those of induction, "rules of thinking." The artifices, on the other hand, are those operations, of an almost mysterious character, which run counter to ordinary procedure in a more or less paradoxical way. . . . Thought also has such artifices; they are strikingly purposive expressions of the organic function of thought.[4]

Simmel, in a discussion of the methodological problems of sociology, has made essentially the same paint. As is well known, it was his most fundamental thesis that it is the function of sociology, strictly and properly so-called, to study the pure forms of socialization apart from their content. When, however, he takes up the question of procedure, he insists that methods cannot be explicitly prescribed in advance:

The mathematician can assume that the concept of an ideal geometric figure is known, and is subjectively seen as the only real meaning of the one drawn with crayon or ink. Here (in sociological inquiries), however, the corresponding assumption cannot be made; the separation of that which is really pure socialization from the complex total appearance cannot be logically enforced.

One is forced to take upon himself here the odium of speaking of intuitive procedure—however different it may be from the geometric-metaphysical concept of intuition—of a particular limitation of the glance with which this separation is accomplished and to which, until it is later developed in conceptually expressible methods, it can be guided only through a survey of concrete cases.[5]

In other words, in the present stage of development of the science, additions are made to the conceptual equipment of the sociologist, by no procedure which lends itself to rigid prescription in terms of a formal logical method, either deductive or inductive. In the development of a methodology with the aid of which a certain order of phenomena can be made more intelligible, and can be brought within the range of purposive control, one has resort to trial and selection. The materials with which this trial and selection proceeds are naturally the data which one has sought to explain, or the practical problems with which one has tried to deal. In part, however, they are the concepts which previous theoretic writers have

( 620) defined; and raw material from which scientific concepts can be extracted is available in the published records of previous attempts to solve practical problems.

The concepts gathered from such sources are of course subjected to a deductive procedure of checking up and reconciliation. Deduction is in fact the term we give to the process of reasoning by which we determine whether our concepts as we have tentatively defined them can be made to conform to the logical necessities imposed by the nature of our thought. This logical fitness and serviceability can be measured in part by very simple criteria, particularly those of disjunctiveness and inclusiveness. That is, the terms proposed for use in some particular type of analysis should be such that any possible case of the general kind in question can be brought under some one of the headings, and no part of the material is capable of inclusion under more than one of them. Perhaps a third criterion should be stated, that the total number of concepts in a particular system should be as small as practicable.[6]

It is to be emphasized, however, that the purpose of scientific method, in sociology or in any other field, is not finality, but the conquest of fields of inquiry which have as yet escaped explanation and control. On the one hand, sociologists, like other scientists, must express their concepts in terms of the vocabulary which is already in existence. In fact, this is even more necessary for sociologists than for other scientists, since the material in which they are interested is inextricably embodied in the vernacular speech, and cannot be intelligibly designated in any other terms. Only gradually can a precise scientific vocabulary be established and perfected by the consensus of the sociological guild. Meanwhile, progress is achieved by experimenting with existing terms. On the other hand, the terms which we use are satisfactory, not in the measure of their capacity for parceling out neatly and exhaustively the materials in which we are interested, so that the illusion is created that no more can be said on the subject in hand, but in the

( 621) measure of their power to lead us in the direction of new perceptions—the perception of facts which previous methods have tended to conceal.?


The four concepts under which Park and Burgess have subsumed the major aspects of the social process have been arrived at by selecting from the terms which earlier writers, motivated by scientific and practical considerations, but especially the latter, have used to describe aspects of the social reality which they have felt to be significant. The broadest meanings which have been assigned to those terms have been noted, so that between them they might be capable of including the whole of the social reality as taken from a certain point of view. On the other hand, it has been felt desirable to give in some respects a restrictive precision to these terms, in order that the concepts which they represent may satisfy the logical criterion of disjunctiveness. In the actual social reality as we experience it, the processes here described under the terms competition, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation are likely to be going on side by side. Indeed, in almost any concrete case, they are aspects, to use Cooley's phrase, of "an organic whole." It is simply as a matter of abstraction, for the purpose of arriving at a scientific analysis and explanation, that we separate them from one another. Various writers have pointed out this feature of scientific method; it has recently been well stated by E. W. Hobson:

In the attempt to discover a scientific law, a selective process is requisite in regard to the percepts, some greater or less part of what is perceived must be ignored, as irrelevant to the purpose on hand; this selective process amounts to a process of abstraction, in which some elements of our actual percepts are removed, and not attended to. The degree of abstraction employed, and thus the degree in which the concepts differ from percepts, varies greatly in different departments of science, and also varies greatly according to the stage of development which a particular department has reached. A scientific law is accordingly always, in some greater or less degree, abstract, in the sense that it represents only a part of what is in any particular case actually perceived; it de-

(622)     -scribes a particular sequence of physical events which, in an actual case, is accompanied by other percepts or events in relation to which the law has no application.[8]

The distinction between competition, on the one hand, and conflict, accommodation, and assimilation, on the other hand, is in one respect more fundamental than the distinctions between the latter three. Competition is the concept under which the biological struggle for existence and the economic struggle for position in an economic order are subsumed. Human beings are of course involved in the struggle for existence like all other organisms. What is of particular significance about the biological concept, however, is that it affords a point of view from which the determination of the spatial structure of society may be described. Human individuals and groups have distribution and position in space; they migrate and they display certain routine patterns of mobility. Some of the most significant and fundamental aspects of these facts can be accounted for, abstractly, in terms of competition. Similarly, some aspects of the process in which the economic order—the division of labor and the integration of industrial structures—is determined may be described abstractly in terms of competition. Competition is a process which operates in plant communities; human aims and intelligence are not essential to its operation. Competition, in the strictest sense of the term, is perhaps not a sociological concept; it is rather a pre-sociological concept.

The desirability of having such a method of describing and analyzing competition in concrete cases is shown by its use by writers on contemporary economic problems. In recent studies on the coal industry,[9] the authors have proceeded to describe first the geographic and physical side of the industry—in terms of the distribution of coal deposits and open mines and of the markets in which the coal is sold, of the relative difficulty of extracting coal in various mines, of the available facilities for transporting the coal, and of the quantitative ratio of the annual capacity of the mines

( 623) to the rate at which the coal is actually being consumed. Having spread this account of the physical organization of the industry before the reader, they are in a position to analyze the industrial relations which exist and the problem of control. Professor Ripley, in The Races of Europe, has described some aspects of the process in which types of individuals—presumed to be racial in origin are gradually sorted and distributed and redistributed between the open country and the urban centers. In the same volume he has hinted at the evidences of a similar process of distribution of types among the various localities and neighborhoods of any one city. Cooley has shown that a process of competition is constantly selecting and re-selecting individuals for the many specialized economic functions which modern civilization affords.

It is helpful to think of this process abstractly as if it involved no conscious purposes on the part of the persons involved, and to describe it without reference to the cultural forces which help to determine what actually happens in particular competitive situations. Of course, in actual fact, such factors are always involved to some degree in the activities of human beings. But we can think of the competitive process as a physical and biological one which determines the situations which men as human persons seek to control. By such a procedure, we can gain a better insight into the nature of the circumstances under which the more strictly social, or "personal" types of activity arise. The formula is: Through the operation of a process of competition individuals find their places, in a spatial order and in an economic order. As they strive to act in these situations, they set in motion other processes, which in their turn call for description. It should be noted, however, that this process of competition is in a sense one of co-operation also; at least it involves the reciprocal dependence of the competing individuals or groups. Whenever two or more individuals or groups are competing, each is affected by the activity of the other, and the results of the activity of either, or of both, may be thought of as cooperative results, just as we say that climate, soil, and human activity "co-operate" in producing a certain result.

( 624)


The description of the processes which develop within the spatial and economic order determined in competition can best be formulated when a different point of view is assumed from that which proves serviceable for the description of competition. The processes designated as conflict, accommodation, and assimilation differ as a class from competition as above defined in that an account of them postulates the mental, reflective, or "personal" aspect of human activity, that is, the co-ordination of behavior with reference to situations as seen by the persons involved in them, and with reference to the purposes and claims which those persons make upon the situations, and the way in which they take account of the claims and attitudes of others. Human beings differ from other animals, in high degree if not absolutely, in that they represent to themselves, or project in imagination the environment in which they are placed. They make claims upon their surroundings, and they identify other persons as means or obstacles to the realization of those claims. They interpret the acts of other persons as manifestations of "inner" attitudes and of the claims which those others are in their turn making, and the persons toward whom others' attitudes and claims are directed seek to modify those attitudes and claims, so as to make them compatible with their own. What is perhaps the most useful starting-point for a sociological account of the ensuing processes is afforded by Sumner's generalized conception of the in-group-out-group relationship. Any particular person is normally born into some sort of group, the solidarity and collective feeling of which antedates his own arrival in it. Members of such an "in-group" take for granted, on the whole, their common interests, and present, quite spontaneously, a united front to the rest of the world. In so far as the claims they make upon the world conflict with those they find other groups asserting —and the typical first outcome of the contact of group with group is that they do conflict through a wide range[10] —the ensuing process of interaction can be described as one of conflict. The "others" are identified as enemies, and the struggle against them is carried on,

( 625)

for a time at least, with energy and enthusiasm which are reinforced, apparently, by traits deeply rooted in original nature. Under the circumstances in which actual human conflicts take place, however, the means and methods to be used in carrying on the struggle are often circumscribed and defined through the operation of controls already developed in the larger social milieu within which the particular struggle takes place. The struggle may thus have the form of emulation or rivalry rather than that of war and feud; and in modern times, even war is a struggle which is regulated to a certain extent.

Now war or other conflict operates to produce a redefinition of the incompatible claims out of which it arose—a redefinition which makes it more nearly possible for the claims as redefined to be realized. This is indeed in a certain sense the purpose of active conflict; it is an attempt to modify others' attitudes toward one's self or one's own group. War may be described as a process of liquidation of animosities which grow up in time of peace; the same may be said for that matter of any form of active conflict. Rivalry, whether of classes, cliques, or of nations, is in its nature a reciprocal process; it always tends toward an end, an equilibration of the antagonistic claims. The mutation of attitudes involved in this redefinition of claims, and of the whole situation as referred to those claims, is termed the process of accommodation. Accommodation assumes a multitude of forms: the extermination of one of the adversaries is in a sense the extreme case, but the whole range of devices by which the transition from war to peace, from struggle to relative equilibrium, is effected, comprise simply the more dramatic and obvious forms of the process. In so far as there is a considerable amount of controlled and regulated conflict to be found in every phase of the social reality—conscious commercial rivalry, rivalries of religious organizations, of communities, of economic classes—all the definitions of group status, caste regulations, professional "ethics," and similar devices by which these group rivalries are held within bounds may be thought of as manifestations of a process of accommodation. The result of the process is to give form, structure, or organization to the social actuality.

( 626)


Another way of stating the whole matter is with reference to the control concept. Park and Burgess have placed a concise statement of this aspect of the social process at the beginning of their chapter on "Social Control": "Social control and the mutual subordination of individual members to the community have their origin in conflict, assume definite organized forms in the process of accommodation, and are consolidated and fixed in assimilation."[11] We gain added understanding of social processes by thinking of them as the activities and adjustments which are initiated by the effort of groups to act collectively. The interdependence which, as we have seen, is created in and by competition begets in human beings, in greater or less degree a consciousness of interdependence. Out of this feeling of mutual dependence arises the tendency so to redefine our own attitudes, and the attempt so to modify others' attitudes, that it is possible to realize our interests, to satisfy our wishes in and by means of the social process. This involves the development of some sort and degree of group consciousness, but that is another story.

Assimilation, in which social control is consolidated, has usually been thought of as the process in which cultural homogeneity is produced. Cultural homogeneity, or "likemindedness," is however never absolute or very nearly absolute in groups found in the civilized world; indeed it is doubtful whether any tendency to approach cultural homogeneity may be postulated. Possibly it may be approached in certain relatively small, isolated groups found in out-of-the-way parts of the globe. Elsewhere groups display in substantial degree the differentiation of parts and resulting organization which are made definite in the process of accommodation. There is to be observed in all communities, however, a process in which, through participation in common activities and through living together in relatively intimate relations—which is both cause and effect—persons develop an organic, sympathetic responsiveness to one another's claims and attitudes, so that their relations to one another no longer admit of description in terms of "organ-

( 627) -ization" in any but the most nebulous and inclusive sense of the term. Through this process, which is termed "assimilation," the attitudes of one individual toward another become "personal," in the conventional sense of the term. A personal relationship in this sense of the term does not necessarily involve like-mindedness; it involves mutual claims which are mutually recognized. Assimilation is a process in which persons come to, or continue to feel at home in each other's presence, in somewhat the same way in which a person comes to feel at home in a certain physical milieu. Perhaps the most nearly perfect example of this type of relationship that can be found in the social reality familiar to all of us is afforded by that type of family life which has not become formalized and disintegrated under the impact of well-known modern social tendencies. In such a family life the relations of mother and child, of husband and wife, of brothers or of brother and sister cannot be characterized as "organized" in the ordinary sense of the term. The type of communication and interaction which goes on between them is of another order from that which takes place between members of different classes or between less intimate acquaintances.[12] Relationships of the same type seem to have existed to a considerable extent within some of the smaller, more homogeneous, relatively isolated rural villages and country neighborhoods of a generation ago.

The term "assimilation," then, affords a point of view and a category under which the process in which relationships of this order are created and sustained may be studied in abstraction from the processes of conflict and accommodation, with which, in particular cases, it is more or less complicated. There is always some distance, some polarity or accommodation between groups and between the members of the groups which constitute the experienced social reality.


Professor Hayes's listing of thirteen concepts implies the resolution of social process into more ultimate elements. He states,

( 628) however, that "we cannot give an account of a social relation without giving a somewhat complete account of the reaction evoked by the social contact" (p. 335). Exactly. This is just what the terms competition, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation are intended to make possible—the giving of somewhat complete accounts of interactions set up by social contacts. The actual social reality as we experience it is a great deal more complicated than it would appear to be if an account of it were to be reduced forthwith to expression in the terms which Hayes proposes. What is urgently demanded at the present stage of development of sociological method is a relatively small number of synthetic concepts, with reference to which as headings or guiding lines particular types of social phenomena can be studied and can be described in their fulness. By this method, opportunity is given for the identification of particular mechanisms of causal interaction which appear to be elemental; while at the same time we are protected against losing sight of important, if not obvious, aspects of the social reality. The actual reality is, as Professor Small has pointed out,[13] always one of multiple causation; and if we proceed too hastily to set forth a description of it in terms of a selected list of presumably ultimate types of causal relationship, we are almost certain to lose sight of some features of the complex reality. To be sure, we can make out a number of seemingly elemental aspects of social interaction by a common-sense interpretation of the familiar features of our experience, aided, properly enough, by the light which previous workers have been able to shed upon the matters in question. Terms for these obvious features of the social reality can be related to the comprehensive descriptions which may be written by starting from the concepts we have been discussing. A number of Hayes's terms seem to be of this sort. Although he has not indicated very clearly what he means by them, we may venture to classify some of them as special elements, or components, to be brought under the more inclusive terms, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation.

"Emulation" can easily be taken as a special form of conflict, one which is under control by a pre-existent social order. "Dom-

( 629) -inance-subordination" is one element or phase, perhaps the principal one, of the process of accommodation. "Organization" is, as we have seen, the substantive term under which the results of the process of accommodation are subsumed. "Co-operation" is a term that is perhaps best reserved for the designation of an aspect of the social reality from the economic point of view, as we have shown above.

Assimilation, Professor Hayes says, is a term which designates the result of a social process or of a combination of processes. The distinction which he endeavors to make here is the crux of the whole question from one point of view, as we shall point out presently. Here we may simply note that the term assimilation, because of the language habits which it embodies, can be taken either as an activity or as the result of an activity. When taken in the active sense, social suggestion, imitation, and sympathetic radiation appear to indicate psychological mechanisms involved in all forms of interaction. The establishment and maintenance of personal relations, however, which we have briefly described above as the essence of assimilation, remain to be more thoroughly described, analyzed, and explained through further research work with concrete cases. This process cannot be accounted for, except to a very limited extent, by reference to suggestion, imitation, and radiation. These, in fact, are themselves terms which appear to have the character of hypostatization of certain supposed results of social interaction, the concepts so derived being, then cited as causes, after the manner which Comte called metaphysical.

Several of the terms which Hayes proposes appear to be alternative names for some of the more general aspects of the social reality, or results of the social process, taken substantively. This we have already noted as the most plausible interpretation of his term "organization." Probably the same can be said of "inducement" and "deterrence." When he says (p. 334) that all social control which is not a matter of education in the broadest sense (assimilation?) is a matter of inducement and deterrence, is not this equivalent to the assertion that all social processes tend to promote control? That is, they make it possible for the larger group,

( 630) in which divergent elements are incorporated, to act for some purposes as a unity. "Social control" is coming into general acceptance among sociologists as the term under which we subsume and study the general fact that by various means individuals are induced to undergo mutual subordination and to carry on some sort of corporate existence and activity which we refer to as "society" or as "groups." Hayes's term "corroboration" is not sufficiently defined or described in his article to make it possible to deal with it intelligently. Apparently, it indicates simply one of the most universal aspects of social interaction or communication.[14]


Professor Hayes does not seem to be clear as to the logical connection and distinctions between relations and interaction. Each of his terms, he says, indicates a "type of social relationship" (p. 341). While "the distinction between activities and the relations in which they stand is readily confused" (p. 342), there appears to be no doubt in his mind that it is a basic distinction. Is this, however, anything more than the distinction between the substantive or static abstraction of the reality of immediate experience, and the abstractions of the same reality which we make in terms of function, process, or activity? There can be "relation between activities" only if the persons or other elements which are thought of as the actors are interacting. The reality given in immediate experience is not, strictly speaking, capable of being reproduced by any written description whatever.[15] We are able to deal with this concrete reality, however, in a more or less sophisticated and purposive way, by categorizing it, that is by subjecting it to a procedure of conscious or unconscious abstraction. Now, as Bergson and others have shown, the most natural kind of abstractions which we make from the reality of experience are probably those in which we reduce the reality to a substantive form; we neglect the activity which is experienced in time, and conceive the reality as fixed in

( 631) space. The time-activity aspect of things is, for reasons inherent in the nature of our mental endowment and in the nature of language, more difficult to retain in an abstract account. If our abstraction is to preserve the active aspect of the experienced datum, it must apparently tend to assume one of two forms: that of an ongoing change conceived in time, or that of a process of interaction between factors conceived as fixed at points in space. Psychology makes use of techniques which need not take account of space, though some types of psychological analysis lean heavily upon spatial representations of their data; it appears to be of the very essence of scientific sociological method, however, that it must account for the intercausal connections of the activities of individuals who are spatially external to one another, and who can treat one another as external obstacles and utilities.[16] In the effort to take account of this aspect of its data, sociology naturally develops a methodology which is expressed in terms of interaction. There are reasons probably more fundamental than this, however, why it is essential to sociological method to conceive its data in terms of a process of interaction between forces thought of as exerted at points in space, rather than as a process of ongoing change in time, though the actual reality we are seeking to deal with is both at the same time. For natural science demands abstractions which are universal and transferable, and this they can be only if they can be taken out of time. So long as our conception of the datum with which we are dealing is left in the time nexus, it is unique and nontransferable; whereas abstractions of the data which are conceived in space can be thought of as subject to being removable to other locations. This means that for the purposes of natural science, we reduce our abstractions to the spatial-interaction form, if we wish to save the activity feature of our conception of the inter-causal connection of the phenomena. It may be pointed out incidentally that this is the essence of the difference between the Comtean sociology and that of Herbert Spencer; Comte never managed to think of the social reality except as an ongoing process of change

(632) in time, while Spencer treated the "factors of social phenomena" as if they were distributed in space, and the social activity, virtually, as a process of interaction.[17]

Simmel has formulated the clearest expression of the social reality from this point of view that we have so far; one concise version of his account is given in the following passage:

Society exists wherever several individuals are in reciprocal relationship. This reciprocity arises always from specific impulses by virtue of specific purposes   Impulses .... bring it to pass that men enter into group relationships of acting for, with, against one another; that is men exercise an influence upon the conditions of association and are influenced by them. These reactions signify that out of the individual bearers of those occasioning impulses and purposes a unity, that is, a "society," comes into being. An organic body is a unity because its organs are in a relationship of more intimate interchange of their energies than with any external being. A state is one because reciprocal influences exist. We could not, indeed, call the world one if each of its parts did not somehow influence every other, if anywhere the reciprocity of

the influences, however mediated, were cut off. . . . [18]

Hayes holds that the term "social process" should be restricted to activity and change in activity (pp. 341-42). It is the thesis of this paper that, while the social reality as immediately experienced is indeed in continual change, for the purposes of sociological method, the term "social process" should be taken to refer to the interaction of elements, factors, or forces, which are conceived from logical necessity as located at points in space. Even when we are clearly conscious that the spatial representations which we may make of the matter in hand are pure fictions, we still find them useful for methodological reasons, and therefore justifiable. The changes which take place in the course of the actual ongoing of the social reality can be most conveniently dealt with abstractly as types of changes which arise in connection with, and in the operation of types of interaction. Hayes states that "all explanation that can be called scientific is in terms of conditioning relations." The foregoing paragraphs have sought to show that "conditioning relations" is a conception which may be taken to refer to relations of

( 633) antecedence and consequence, or to relations of interaction. Either conception, in so far as it eliminates the other, is an abstraction; the interaction concept is perhaps the greater departure from naïve experience, but it is one which we need for the purposes of science. Relations of antecedence and consequence, except in so far as they are taken to be capable of extraction from time in relatively small units, are the terms of historical explanation—the kind of explanation which Comte and his most direct followers have sought to reduce to the most general terms.[19] The terms of a scientific sociological vocabulary should designate types of interaction, in the course of which certain types of change take place. Otherwise stated, it is the task of sociology, as a natural science, not primarily to point out the "that" of the social becoming primarily, but to show "how" through the working of a process of interaction among the factors involved a certain typical form of relationship and of activity—i.e., of interaction—succeeds another typical form.


  1. “Some Social Relations Restated," American Journal of Sociology, XXXI (November, 1925), 333-46. Figures in parentheses in later sections of this paper refer to pages of Hayes's article.
  2. Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess, Introduction to the Science of Sociology (Chicago, 2924), pp. 504-784.
  3. Hayes gives the complete list of terms which he proposes in a footnote on p. 342 of his article.
  4. Hans Vaihinger, Philosophy of "As If" (New York, 1925), p. 11.
  5. Georg Simmel, Soziologie (Munich and Leipzig, 1922), p. 12.
  6. Compare Ernest W. Hobson, The Domain of Natural Science (New York, 1923), pp.25-33.
  7. John Dewey, Essays in Experimental Logic (Chicago, 1916), pp. 209-72.
  8. Op. cit., p. 29.
  9. Walton H. Hamilton and Helen R. Wright, The Case of Bituminous Coal (New York, 1925); Edward T. Devine, Coal (Bloomington, Illinois, 1925).
  10. Ludwig Gumplowicz, Der Rassenkampf, quoted by Park and Burgess, op. cit., PP. 346-48.
  11. Op. cit., p. 785.
  12. However, this intimate type of mutual responsiveness may exist between master or mistress and an old and trusted household servant or slave.
  13. General Sociology, p. 52.
  14. John Dewey, Democracy and Education, pp. 5-6; quoted by Park and Burgess, op. cit., pp. 185-86.
  15. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory (London and New York, 1912), p. 30. See also the same author's Time and Free Will, passim.
  16. Compare Georg Simmel, Soziologie (Munchen and Leipzig, 1922), chap. ix; see also Nicholas J. Spykman, The Social Theory of Georg Simmel, chap. iv.
  17. Compare Spykman, op. cit., pp. 3-20.
  18. Soziologíe, pp. 4-5; translated by A. W. Small, American Journal of Sociology, XV, 296.
  19. For a recent restatement of the Comtean tradition, see DeGrange, McQuilkin, La Courbe du Mouvement Socíétal (Paris: Librairie Auguste-Comte, 1923).

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2