The Polish Peasant in Europe and America

Part I: Methodological Note


One of the most significant features of social evolution is the growing importance which a conscious and rational technique tends to assume in social life. We are less and less ready to let any social processes go on without our active interference and we feel more and more dissatisfied with any active interference based upon a mere whim of an individual or a social body, or upon preconceived philosophical, religious, or moral generalizations.

The marvelous results attained by a rational technique in the sphere of material reality invite us to apply some analogous procedure to social reality. Our success in controlling nature gives us confidence that we shall eventually be able to control the social world in the same measure. Our actual inefficiency in this line is due, not to any fundamental limitation of our reason, but simply to the historical fact that the objective attitude toward social reality is a recent acquisition.

While our realization that nature can be controlled only by treating it as independent of any immediate act of our will or reason is four centuries old, our confidence in "legislation" and in "moral suasion" shows that this idea is not yet generally realized with regard to the social world. But the tendency to rational control is growing in this field also and constitutes at present an insistent demand on the social sciences.

This demand for a rational control results from the increasing rapidity of social evolution. The old forms of control were based upon the assumption of an essential stability of the whole social framework and were effective only in so far as this stability was real. In a stable social

( 2) organization there is time enough to develop in a purely empirical way, through innumerable experiments and failures, approximately sufficient means of control with regard to the ordinary and frequent social phenomena, while the errors made in treating the uncommon and rare phenomena seldom affect social life in such a manner as to imperil the existence of the group; if they do, then the catastrophe is accepted as incomprehensible and inevitable. Thus—to take an example—the Polish peasant community has developed during many centuries complicated systems of beliefs and rules of behavior sufficient to control social life under ordinary circumstances, and the cohesion of the group and the persistence of its membership are strong enough to withstand passively the influence of eventual extraordinary occurrences, although there is no adequate method of meeting them. And if the crisis is too serious and the old unity or prosperity of the group breaks down, this is usually treated at first as a result of superior forces against which no fight is possible.

But when, owing to the breakdown of the isolation of the group and its contact with a more complex and fluid world, the social evolution becomes more rapid and the crises more frequent and varied, there is no time for the same gradual, empirical, unmethodical elaboration of approximately adequate means of control, and no crisis can be passively borne, but every one must be met in a more or less adequate way, for they are too various and frequent not to imperil social life unless controlled in time. The substitution of a conscious technique for a half-conscious routine has become, therefore, a social necessity, though it is evident that the development of this technique could be only gradual, and that even now we find in it many implicit or explicit ideas and methods corresponding to stages of human thought passed hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

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The oldest but most persistent form of social technique is that of "ordering-and-forbidding "—that is, meeting a crisis by an arbitrary act of will decreeing the disappearance of the undesirable or the appearance of the desirable phenomena, and using arbitrary physical action to enforce the decree. This method corresponds exactly to the magical phase of natural technique. In both, the essential means of bringing a determined effect is more or less consciously thought to reside in the act of will itself by which the effect is decreed as desirable and of which the action is merely an indispensable vehicle or instrument; in both, the process by which the cause (act of will and physical action) is supposed to bring its effect to realization remains out of reach of investigation; in both, finally, if the result is not attained, some new act of will with new material accessories is introduced, instead of trying to find and remove the perturbing causes. A good instance of this in the social field is the typical legislative procedure of today.

It frequently happens both in magic and in the ordering-and-forbidding technique that the means by which the act of will is helped are really effective, and thus the result is attained, but, as the process of causation, being unknown, cannot be controlled, the success is always more or less accidental and dependent upon the stability of general conditions; when these are changed, the intended effect fails to appear, the subject is unable to account for the reasons of the failure and can only try by guesswork some other means. And even more frequent than this accidental success is the result that the action brings some effect, but not the desired one.

There is, indeed, one difference between the ordering-and-forbidding technique and magic. In social life an expressed act of will may be sometimes a real cause, when the person or body from which it emanates has a particular

( 4) authority in the eyes of those to whom the order or prohibition applies. But this does not change the nature of the technique as such. The prestige of rulers, ecclesiastics, and legislators was a condition making an act of will an efficient cause under the old regimes, but it loses its value in the modern partly or completely republican organizations.

A more effective technique, based upon "common sense" and represented by "practical" sociology, has naturally originated in those lines of social action in which there was either no place for legislative measures or in which the hoc volo, sic jubeo proved too evidently inefficient—in business, in charity and philanthropy, in diplomacy, in personal association, etc. Here, indeed, the act of will having been recognized as inefficient in directing the causal process, real causes are sought for every phenomenon, and an endeavor is made to control the effects by acting upon the causes, and, though it is often partly successful, many fallacies are implicitly involved in this technique; it has still many characters of a planless empiricism, trying to get at the real cause by a rather haphazard selection of various possibilities, directed only by a rough and popular reflection, and its deficiencies have to be shown and removed if a new and more efficient method of action is to be introduced.

The first of these fallacies has often been exposed. It is the latent or manifest supposition that we know social reality because we live in it, and that we can assume things and relations as certain on the basis of our empirical acquaintance with them. The attitude is here about the same as in the ancient assumption that we know the physical world because we live and act in it, and that therefore we have the right of generalizing without a special and thorough investigation, on the mere basis of "common sense." The history of physical science gives us many good examples of the results to which common sense can lead, such as the

( 5) geocentric system of astronomy and the mediaeval ideas about motion. And it is easy to show that not even the widest individual acquaintance with social reality, not even the most evident success of individual adaptation to this reality, can offer any serious guaranty of the validity of the common-sense generalizations.

Indeed, the individual's sphere of practical acquaintance with social reality, however vast it may be as compared with that of others, is always limited and constitutes only a small part of the whole complexity of social facts. It usually extends over only one society, often over only one class of this society; this we may call the exterior limitation. In addition there is an interior limitation, still more important, due to the fact that among all the experiences which the individual meets within the sphere of his social life a large, perhaps the larger, part is left unheeded, never becoming a basis of common-sense generalizations. This selection of experiences is the result of individual temperament on the one hand and of individual interest on the other. In any case, whether temperamental inclinations or practical considerations operate, the selection is subjective—that is, valid only for this particular individual in this particular social position—and thereby it is quite different from, and incommensurable with, the selection which a scientist would make in face of the same body of data from an objective, impersonal viewpoint.

Nor is the practical success of the individual within his sphere of activity a guaranty of his knowledge of the relations between the social phenomena which he is able to control. Of course there must be some objective validity in his schemes of social facts—otherwise he could not live in society—but the truth of these schemes is always only a rough approximation and is mixed with an enormous amount of error. When we assume that a successful

(6) adaptation of the individual to his environment is a proof that he knows this environment thoroughly, we forget that there are degrees of success, that the standard of success is to a large extent subjective, and that all the standards of success applied in human society may be—and really are very low, because they make allowance for a very large number of partial failures, each of which denotes one or many errors. Two elements are found in varying proportions in every adaptation; one is the actual control exercised over the environment; the other is the claims which this control serves to satisfy. The adaptation may be perfect, either because of particularly successful and wide control or because of particularly limited claims. Whenever the control within the given range of claims proves insufficient, the individual or the group can either develop a better control or limit the claims. And, in fact, in every activity the second method, of adaptation by failures, plays a very important role. Thus the individual's knowledge of his environment can be considered as real only in the particular matters in which he does actually control it; his schemes can be true only in so far as they are perfectly, absolutely successful. And if we remember how much of practical success is due to mere chance and luck, even this limited number of truths becomes doubtful. Finally, the truths that stand the test of individual practice are always schemes of the concrete and singular, as are the situations in which the individual finds himself.

In this way the acquaintance with social data and the knowledge of social relations which we acquire in practice are always more or less subjective, limited both in number and in generality. Thence comes the well-known fact that the really valuable part of practical wisdom acquired by the individual during his life is incommunicable—cannot be stated in general terms; everyone must acquire it afresh

(7) by a kind of apprenticeship to life—that is, by learning to select experiences according to the demands of his own personality and to construct for his own use particular schemes of the concrete situations which he encounters. Thus, all the generalizations constituting the commonsense social theory and based on individual experience are both insignificant and subject to innumerable exceptions. A sociology that accepts them necessarily condemns itself to remain in the same methodological stage, and a practice based upon them must be as insecure and as full of failures as is the activity of every individual.

Whenever, now, this "practical" sociology makes an effort to get above the level of popular generalizations by the study of social reality instead of relying upon individual experience, it still preserves the same method as the individual in his personal reflection; investigation always goes on with an immediate reference to practical aims, and the standards of the desirable and undesirable are the ground upon which theoretic problems are approached. This is the second fallacy of the practical sociology, and the results of work from this standpoint are quite disproportionate to the enormous efforts that have recently been put forth in the collection and elaboration of materials preparatory to social reforms. The example of physical science and material technique should have shown long ago that only a scientific investigation, which is quite free from any dependence on practice, can become practically useful in its applications. Of course this does not mean that the scientist should not select for investigation problems whose solution has actual practical importance; the sociologist may study crime or war as the chemist studies dyestuffs. But from the method of the study itself all practical considerations must be excluded if we want the results to be valid. And this has not yet been realized by practical sociology.

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The usual standpoint here is that of an explicit or implicit norm with which reality should comply. The norm may be intrinsic to the reality, as when it is presumed that the actually prevailing traditional or customary state of things is normal; or it may be extrinsic, as when moral, religious, or aesthetic standards are applied to social reality and the prevailing state of things is found in disaccord with the norm, and in so far abnormal. But this difference has

no essential importance. In both cases the normal, agreeing with the norm, is supposed to be known either by practical acquaintance or by some particular kind of rational or irrational evidence; the problem is supposed to lie in the abnormal, the disharmony with the norm. I n the first case the abnormal is the exceptional, in the second case it is the usual, while the normal constitutes an exception, but the general method of investigation remains the same.

There is no doubt that the application of norms to reality had a historical merit; investigation was provoked in this way and the "abnormal" became the first object. of empirical studies. It is the morally indignant observer of vice and crime and the political idealist-reformer who start positive investigations. But as soon as the investigation is started both indignation and idealism should be put. aside. For in treating a certain body of material as representing the normal, another body of material as standing for the abnormal, we introduce at once a division that is necessarily artificial; for if these terms have a meaning it can be determined only on the basis of investigation, and the criterion of normality must be such as to allow us to include in the normal, not only a certain determined stage of social life and a limited class of facts, but also the whole series of different stages through which social life passes, and the whole variety of social phenomena. The definition a priori of a group of facts that we are going to investigate as

(9) abnormal has two immediate consequences. First, our attention is turned to such facts as seem the most important practically, as being most conspicuously contrary to the norm and calling most insistently for reform. But the things that are practically important may be quite insignificant theoretically and, on the contrary, those which seem to have no importance from the. practical point of view may be the source of important scientific discoveries. The scientific value of a fact depends on its connection with other facts, and in this connection the most commonplace facts are often precisely the most valuable ones, while a fact that strikes the imagination or stirs the moral feeling may be really either isolated or exceptional, or so simple as to involve hardly any problems. Again, by separating the abnormal from the normal we deprive ourselves of the opportunity of studying them in their connection with each other, while only in this connection can their study be fully fruitful. There is no break in continuity between the normal and the abnormal in concrete life that would permit any exact separation of the corresponding bodies of material, and the nature of the normal and the abnormal as determined by theoretic abstraction can be perfectly understood only with the help of comparison.

But there are other consequences of this fallacy. When the norm is not a result but a starting-point of the investigation, as it is in this case, every practical custom or habit, every moral, political, religious view, claims to be the norm and to treat as abnormal whatever does not agree with it. The result is harmful both in practice and in theory. In practice, as history shows and as we see at every moment, a social technique based upon pre-existing norms tends to suppress all the social energies which seem to act in a way contrary to the demands of the norm, and to ignore all the social energies not included in the sphere embraced by the

( 10) norm. This limits still more the practical importance of the technique and often makes it simply harmful instead of useful. In theory, a sociology using norms as its basis deprives itself of the possibility of understanding and controlling any important facts of social evolution. lndeed, every social process of real importance always includes a change of the norms themselves, not alone of the activity embraced by the norms. Traditions and customs, Morality and religion, undergo an evolution that is more and more rapid, and it is evident that a sociology proceeding on the assumption that a certain norm is valid and that whatever does not comply with it is abnormal finds itself absolutely helpless when it suddenly realizes that this norm has lost all social significance and that some other norm has appeared in its place. This helplessness is particularly striking in moments of great social crisis when the evolution of norms becomes exceptionally rapid. We notice it, for example, with particular vividness during the present war, when the whole individualistic system of norms elaborated during the last two centuries begins to retreat before a quite different system, which may be a state socialism or something quite new.

The third fallacy of the common-sense sociology is the implicit assumption that any group of social facts can be treated theoretically and practically in an arbitrary isolation from the rest of the life of the given society. This assumption is perhaps unconsciously drawn from the general form of social organization, in which the real isolation of certain groups of facts is a result of the demands of practical life. In any line of organized human activity only actions of a certain kind are used, and it is assumed that only such individuals will take part in this particular organization as are able and willing to perform these actions, and that they will not bring into this sphere of activity any tendencies

( 11) that may destroy the organization. The factory and the army corps are typical examples of such organizations. The isolation of a group of facts from the rest of social life is here really and practically performed. But exactly in so far as such a system functions in a perfect manner there is no place at all for social science or social practice; the only thing required is a material division and organization of these isolated human actions. The task of social theory and social technique lies outside of these systems; it begins, for example, whenever external tendencies not harmonizing with the organized activities are introduced into the system, when the workmen in the factory start a strike or the soldiers of the army corps a mutiny. Then the isolation disappears; the system enters, through the individuals who are its members, into relation with the whole complexity of social life. And this lack of real isolation, which characterizes a system of organized activity only at moments of crisis, is a permanent feature of all the artificial, abstractly formed groups of facts such as "prostitution," "crime," "education," "war," etc. Every single fact included under these generalizations is connected by innumerable ties with an indefinite number of other facts belonging to various groups, and these relations give to every fact a different character. If we start to study these facts as a whole, without heeding their connection with the rest of the social world, we must necessarily come to quite arbitrary generalizations. If we start to act upon these facts in a uniform way simply because their abstract essence seems to be the same, we must necessarily produce quite different results, varying with the relations of every particular case to the rest of the social world. This does not mean that it is not possible to isolate such groups of facts for theoretic investigation or practical activity, but simply that the isolation must come, not a priori, but a posteriori, in the same way as the distinction

( 12) between the normal and the abnormal. The facts must first be taken in connection with the whole to which they belong, and the question of a later isolation is a methodological problem which we shall treat in a later part of this note.

There are two other fallacies involved to a certain extent in social practice, although practical sociology has already repudiated them. The reason for their persistence in practice is that, even if the erroneousness of the old assumptions has been recognized, no new working ideas have been put in their place. These assumptions are: (1) that men react in the same way to the same influences regardless of their individual or social past, and that therefore it is possible to provoke identical behavior in various individuals by identical means; (2) that men develop spontaneously, without external influence, tendencies which enable them to profit in a full and uniform way from given conditions, and that therefore it is sufficient to create favorable or remove unfavorable conditions in order to give birth to or suppress given tendencies.

The assumption of identical reactions to identical influences is found in the most various lines of traditional social activity; the examples of legal practice and of education are sufficient to illustrate it. In the former all the assumptions about the "motives" of the behavior of the parties, all the rules and forms of investigation and examination, all the decisions of the courts, are essentially based upon this principle. Considerations of the variety of traditions, habits, temperaments, etc., enter only incidentally and secondarily, and usually in doubtful cases, by the initiative of the lawyers; they are the result of commonsense psychological observations, but find little if any place in the objective system of laws and rules. And where, as in the American juvenile courts, an attempt is made to base

( 13) legal practice upon these considerations, all legal apparatus is properly waived, and the whole procedure rests upon the personal qualifications of the judge. In education the same principle is exhibited in the identity of curricula, and is even carried so far as to require identical work from students in connection with the courses they follow, instead of leaving to everyone as much field as possible for personal initiative. Here again the fallaciousness of the principle is corrected only by the efforts of those individual teachers who try to adapt their methods to the personalities of the pupils, using practical tact and individual acquaintance. But as yet no objective principles have been generally substituted for the traditional uniformity.

The assumption of the spontaneous development of tendencies if the material conditions are given is found in the exaggerated importance ascribed by social reformers to changes of material environment and in the easy conclusions drawn from material conditions on the mentality and character of individuals and groups. For example, it is assumed that good housing conditions will create a good family life, that the abolition of saloons will stop drinking, that the organization of a well-endowed institution is all that is necessary to make the public realize its value in practice. To be sure, material conditions do help or hinder to a large extent the development of corresponding lines of behavior, but only if the tendency is already there, for the way in which they will be used depends on the people who use them. The normal way of social action would be to develop the tendency and to create the condition simultaneously, and, if this is impossible, attention should be paid rather to the development of tendencies than to the change of the conditions, because a strong social tendency will always find its expression by modifying the conditions, while the contrary is not true. For example, a perfect

( 14) family life may exist in a Polish peasant community in conditions which would probably be considered in America as a necessary breeding-place of crime and pauperism, while uncommonly favorable external conditions in the Polish aristocratic class do not hinder a decay of family life. In Southern France and Northern Italy there is less drunkenness with the saloon than in the prohibition states of America. In Russian Poland alone, without a Polish university and with only a private philosophical association, more than twice as much original philosophical literature has been published recently as in Russia with her eleven endowed universities. And innumerable examples could be cited from all departments of social life. But it is easy to understand that in the absence of a science of behavior social reformers pay more attention to the material conditions of the people than to the psychology of the people who live in these conditions; for the conditions are concrete and tangible, and we know how to grasp them and to conceive and realize almost perfect plans of material improvements, while in the absence of a science the reformer has no objective principles on which he can rely, and unconsciously tends to ascribe a preponderating importance to the material side of social life.

And these fallacies of the common-sense sociology are not always due to a lack of theoretic ability or of a serious scientific attitude on the part of the men who do the work. They are the unavoidable consequence of the necessity of meeting actual situations at once. Social life goes on without interruption and has to be controlled at every moment. The business man or politician, the educator or charity-worker, finds himself continually confronted by new social problems which he must solve, however imperfect and provisional he knows his solutions to be, for the stream of evolution does not wait for him. He must have imme-

( 15) -diate results, and it is a merit on his part if he tries to reconcile the claims of actuality with those of scientific objectivity as far as they can be reconciled, and endeavors to understand the social reality as well as he can before acting. Certainly social life is improved by even such a control as common-sense sociology is able to give; certainly no effort should be discouraged, for the ultimate balance proves usually favorable. But in social activity, even more t than in material activity, the common-sense method is the most wasteful method, and to replace it gradually by a more efficient one will be a good investment.

While, then, there is no doubt that actual situations must be handled immediately, we see that they cannot be solved adequately as long as theoretical reflection has their immediate solution in view. But there is evidently one issue from this dilemma, and it is the same as in material technique and physical science. We must be able to foresee future situations and prepare for them, and we must have in stock a large body of secure and objective knowledge capable of being applied to any situation, whether foreseen or unexpected. This means that we must have an empirical and exact social science ready for eventual application. And such a science can be constituted only if we treat it as an end in itself, not as a means to something else, and if we give it time and opportunity to develop along all the lines of investigation possible, even if we do not see what may be the eventual applications of one or another of its results. The example of physical science and its applications show that the only practically economical way of creating an efficient technique is to create a science independent of any technical limitations and then to take every one of its results and try where and in what way they can be practically applied. The contrary attitude, the refusal to recognize any science that does not work to solve practical

( 16) problem, in addition to leading to that inefficiency of both science and practice which we have analyzed above, shows a curious narrowness of mental horizon. We do not know what the future science will be before it is constituted and what may be the applications of its discoveries before they are applied; we do not know what will be the future of society and what social problems may arise demanding solution. The only practically justifiable attitude toward science is absolute liberty and disinterested help.

Of course this does not mean that the actual social technique should wait until the science is constituted; such as it is, it is incomparably better than none. But, just as in material technique, as soon as a scientific discovery is at hand an effort should be made to find for it a practical application, and if it can be applied in some particular field a new technique should take the place of the old in this field.

But if no practical aims should be introduced beforehand into scientific investigation, social practice has, nevertheless, the right to demand from social theory that at least some of its results shall be applicable at once, and that the number and importance of such results shall continually increase. As one of the pragmatists has expressed it, practical life can and must give credit to science, but sooner or later science must pay her debts, and the longer the delay the greater the interest required. This demand of ultimate practical applicability is as important for science itself as for practice; it is a test, not only of the practical, but of the theoretical, value of science. A science whose results can be applied proves thereby that it is really based upon experience, that it is able to grasp a great variety of problems, that its method is really exact – that it is valid. The test of applicability is a salutary responsibility which science must assume in her own interest.

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If we attempt now to determine what should be the object-matter and the method of a social theory that would be able to satisfy the demands of modern social practice, it is evident that its main object should be the actual civilized society in its full development and with all its complexity of situations, for it is the control of the actual civilized society that is sought in most endeavors of rational practice. But here, as in every other science, a determined body of material assumes its full significance only if we can use comparison freely, in order to distinguish the essential from the accidental, the simple from the complex, the primary from the derived. And fortunately social life gives us favorable conditions for comparative studies, particularly at the present stage of evolution, in the coexistence of a certain number of civilized societies sufficiently alike in their fundamental cultural problems to make comparison possible, and differing sufficiently in their traditions, customs, and general national spirit to make comparison fruitful. And from the list of these civilized societies we should by no means exclude those non-white societies, like the Chinese, whose organization and attitudes differ profoundly from our own, but which interest us both as social experiments and as situations with which we have to reconcile our own future.

In contrast with this study of the various present civilized societies, the lines along which most of the purely scientific sociological work has been done up to the present —that is, ethnography of primitive societies and social history—have a secondary, though by no means a negligible, importance. Their relation to social practice is only mediate; they can help the practitioner to solve actual cultural problems only to the degree that they help the scientist to understand actual cultural life; they are auxiliary, and their own scientific value will increase with the

(18) progress of the main sphere of studies. In all the endeavors to understand and interpret the past and the savage we must use, consciously or not, our knowledge of our civilized present life, which remains always a basis of comparison, whether the past and the primitive are conceived as analogous with, or as different from, the present and the civilized. The less objective and critical our knowledge of the present, the more subjective and unmethodical is our interpretation of the past and the primitive; unable to see the relative and limited character of the culture within which we live, we unconsciously bend every unfamiliar phenomenon to the limitations of our own social personality. A really objective understanding of history and ethnography can therefore be expected only as a result of a methodical knowledge of present cultural societies.

Another point to be emphasized with regard to the question of the object-matter of social theory is the necessity of taking into account the whole life of a given society instead of arbitrarily selecting and isolating beforehand certain particular groups of facts. We have seen already that the contrary procedure constitutes one of the fallacies of the common-sense sociology. It is also a fallacy usually committed by the observers of their own or of other societies—litterateurs, journalists, travelers, popular psychologists, etc. In describing a given society they pick out the most prominent situations, the most evident problems, thinking to characterize thereby the life of the given group. Still more harmful for the development of science is this fallacy when used in the comparative sociology which studies an institution, an idea, a myth, a legal or moral norm, a form of art, etc., by simply comparing its content in various societies without studying it in I Ice whole meaning which it has in a particular society and t then comparing this with the whole meaning which it has in the various societies.

(19) We are all more or less guilty of this fault, but it pleases us to attribute it mainly to Herbert Spencer.

In order to avoid arbitrary limitations and subjective interpretations there are only two possible courses open. We can study monographically whole concrete societies with the total complexity of problems and situations which constitute their cultural life; or we can work on special social problems, following the problem in a certain limited number of concrete social groups and studying it in every group with regard to the particular form which it assumes under the influence of the conditions prevailing in this society, taking into account the complex meaning which a concrete cultural phenomenon has in a determined cultural environment. In studying the society we go from the whole social context to the problem, and in studying the problem we. go from the problem to the whole social context. And in both types of work the only safe method is to start with the assumption that we know absolutely nothing about the group or the problem we are to investigate except such purely formal criteria as enable us to distinguish materials belonging to our sphere of interest from those which do not belong there. But this attitude of indiscriminate receptivity toward any concrete data should mark only the first stage of investigation—that of limiting the field. As soon as we become acquainted with the materials we begin to select them with the help of criteria which involve certain methodological generalizations and scientific hypotheses. This must be done, since the whole empirical concreteness cannot be introduced into science, cannot be described or explained. We have to limit ourselves to certain theoretically important data, but we must know how to distinguish the data which are important. And every further step of the investigation will bring with it new methodological problems—analysis of the complete concrete data into

(20) elements, systematization of these elements, definition of social facts, establishing of social laws. All these stages of scientific procedure must be exactly and carefully defined if social theory is to become a science conscious of its own methods and able to apply them with precision, as is the case with the more mature and advanced physical and biological sciences. And it is always the question of an ultimate practical applicability which, according to our previous discussion, will constitute the criterion—the only secure and intrinsic criterion—of a science.

Now there are two fundamental practical problems which have constituted the center of attention of reflective social practice in all times. These are (1) the problem of the dependence of the individual upon social organization and culture, and (2) the problem of the dependence of social organization and culture upon the individual. Practically, the first problem is expressed in the question, How shall we produce with the help of the existing social organization and culture the desirable mental and moral characteristics in the individuals constituting the social group ? And the second problem means in practice, How shall we produce, with the help of the existing mental and moral characteristics of the individual members of the group, the desirable type of social organization and culture ? [1]

If social theory is to become the basis of social technique and to solve these problems really, it is evident that it must include both kinds of data involved in them—namely, the objective cultural elements of social life and the subjective characteristics of the members of the social group—and that the two kinds of data must be taken as correlated.

(21) For these data we shall use now and in the future the terms "social values" (or simply "values") and "attitudes."

By a social value we understand any datum having an empirical content accessible to the members of some social group and a meaning with regard to which it is or may be an object of activity. Thus, a foodstuff, an instrument, a coin, a piece of poetry, a university, a myth, a scientific theory, are social values. Each of them has a content that is sensual in the case of the foodstuff, the instrument, the coin; partly sensual, partly imaginary in the piece of poetry, whose content is constituted, not only by the written or spoken words, but also by the images which they evoke, and in the case of the university, whose content is the whole complex of men, buildings, material accessories, and images representing its activity; or, finally, only imaginary in the case of a mythical personality or a scientific theory. The meaning of these values becomes explicit when we take them in connection with human actions. The meaning of the foodstuff is its reference to its eventual consumption; that of an instrument, its reference to the work for which it is designed; that of a coin, the possibilities of buying and selling or the pleasures of spending which it involves; that of the piece of poetry, the sentimental and intellectual reactions which it arouses; that of the university, the social activities which it performs; that of the mythical personality, the cult of which it is the object and the actions of which it is supposed to be the author; that of the scientific theory, the possibilities of control of experience by idea or action that it permits. The social value is thus opposed to the natural thing, which has a content but, as a part of nature, has no meaning for human activity, is treated as "valueless"; when the natural thing assumes a meaning, it becomes thereby a social value. And naturally a social value may

( 22) have many meanings, for it may refer to many different kinds of activity.

By attitude we understand a process of individual consciousness which determines real or possible activity of the individual in the social world. Thus, hunger that compels the consumption of the foodstuff; the workman's decision to use the tool; the tendency of the spendthrift to spend the coin; the poet's feelings and ideas expressed in the poem and the reader's sympathy and admiration; the needs which the institution tries to satisfy and the response it provokes; the fear and devotion manifested in the cult of the divinity; the interest in creating, understanding, or applying a scientific theory and the ways of thinking implied in it —all these are attitudes. The attitude is thus the individual counterpart of the social value; activity, in whatever form, is the bond between them. By its reference to activity and thereby to individual consciousness the value is distinguished from the natural thing. By its reference to activity and thereby to the social world the attitude is distinguished from the psychical state. In the examples quoted above we were obliged to use with reference to ideas and volitions words that have become terms of individual psychology by being abstracted from the objective social reality to which they apply, but originally they were designed to express attitudes, not psychological processes. A psychological process is an attitude treated as an object in itself, isolated by a reflective act of attention, and taken first of all in connection with other states of the same individual. An attitude is a psychological process treated as primarily manifested in its reference to the social world and taken first of all in connection with some social value. Individual psychology may later re-establish the connection between the psychological process and the objective reality which has been severed by reflection; it may study psychological

(23) processes as conditioned by the facts going on in the objective world. In the same way social theory may later connect various attitudes of an individual and determine his social character. But it is the original (usually unconsciously occupied) standpoints which determine at once the subsequent methods of these two sciences. The psychological process remains always fundamentally a state of somebody; the attitude remains always fundamentally an attitude toward something.

Taking this fundamental distinction of standpoint into account, we may continue to use for different classes of attitudes the same terms which individual psychology has used for psychological processes, since these terms constitute the common property of all reflection about conscious life. The exact meaning of all these terms from the standpoint of social theory must be established during the process of investigation, so that every term shall be defined in view of its application and its methodological validity tested in actual use. It would be therefore impractical to attempt to establish in advance the whole terminology of attitudes.

But when we say that the data of social theory are attitudes and values, this is not yet a sufficient determination of the object of this science, for the field thus defined would embrace the whole of human culture and include the object-matter of philology and economics, theory of art, theory of science, etc. A more exact definition is therefore necessary in order to distinguish social theory from these sciences, established long ago and having their own methods and their own aims.

This limitation of the field of social theory arises quite naturally from the necessity of choosing between attitudes or values as fundamental data—that is, as data whose characters will serve as a basis for scientific generalization. There are numerous values corresponding to every attitude,

(24) and numerous attitudes corresponding to every value; if, therefore, we compare different actions with regard to the attitudes manifested in them and form, for example, the general concept of the attitude of solidarity, this means that we have neglected the whole variety of values which are produced by these actions and which may be political or economical, religious or scientific, etc. If, on the contrary, we compare the values produced by different actions and form, for example, the general concepts of economic or religious values, this means that we have neglected the whole variety of attitudes which are manifested in these actions. Scientific generalization must always base itself upon such characters of its data as can be considered essential to its purposes, and the essential characters of human actions are completely different when we treat them from the standpoint of attitudes and when we are interested in them as values. There is therefore no possibility of giving to attitudes and values the same importance in a methodical scientific investigation; either attitudes must be subordinated to values or the contrary.

Now in all the sciences which deal with separate domains of human culture like language, art., science, economics, it is the attitudes which are subordinated to values —a standpoint which results necessarily from the very specialization of these sciences in the study of certain classes of cultural values. For a theorician of art or an economist an attitude is important and is taken into consideration only in so far as it manifests itself in changes introduced into the sphere of aesthetic or economic values, and is defined exclusively by these changes—that is, by the pre-existing complex of objective data upon which it acted and by the objective results of this activity. But unless there is a special class of cultural values which are not the object-matter of any other science, and unless there are special reasons for assign-

(25) -ing this class to social theory—a problem which we shall discuss presently—the latter cannot take the same standpoint and subordinate attitudes to values, for this would mean a useless duplication of existing sciences. There may be, as we shall see, some doubts whether such groups of phenomena as religion or morality should be for special reasons included in the field of social theory or should constitute the object-matter of distinct sciences; but there is no doubt that language and literature, art and science, economics and technique, are already more or less adequately treated by the respective disciplines and, while needing perhaps some internal reforms, do not call for a supplementary treatment by sociology or "folk-psychology" (Wundt).

But there is also no doubt that a study of the social world from the opposite standpoint—that is, taking attitudes as special object-matter and subordinating values to them—is necessary, and that an exact methodology of such a study is lacking. Ethics, psychology, ethnology, sociology, have an interest in this field and each has occupied it in a fragmentary and unmethodical way. But in ethics the study of attitudes has been subordinated to the problem of ideal norms of behavior, not treated as an end in itself, and under these conditions no adequate method of a purely theoretic investigation can be worked out. Ethnology has contributed valuable data for the study of attitudes and values as found in the various social groups, particularly the "lower" races, but its work is mainly descriptive. Of the sociological method in the exact sense of the term we shall speak presently. Psychology is, however, the science which has been definitely identified with the study of consciousness, and the main question at this point is how far psychology has covered or is capable of covering the field of attitudes.

As we have indicated above, the attitude is not a psychological datum in the sense given to this term by individual

( 26) psychology, and this is true regardless of the differences between psychological schools. Concretely speaking, any method of research which takes the individual as a distinct entity and isolates him from his social environment, whether in order to determine by introspective analysis the content and form of his conscious processes, or in order to investigate the organic facts accompanying these processes, or, finally, in order to study experimentally his behavior as reaction to certain stimuli, finds necessarily only psychical, physical, or biological facts essentially and indissolubly connected with the individual as a psychical, physical, or generally biological reality. In order to reach scientific generalizations, such a method must work on the assumption of the universal permanence and identity of human nature as far as expressed in these facts; that is, its fundamental concepts must be such as to apply to all human beings, some of them even to all conscious beings, and individual differences must be reconstructed with the help of these concepts as variations of the same fundamental background, due to varying intensities, qualities, and combinations of essentially the same universal processes. Indeed, as every psychological fact is a state of the individual as fundamental reality, the uniformity of these facts depends on the permanence and uniformity of such individual realities. The central field of individual psychology is therefore constituted by the most elementary conscious phenomena, which are the only ones that can be adequately treated as essentially identical in all conscious beings; phenomena which are limited to a certain number of individuals either must be treated as complex and analyzed into elementary and universal elements, or, if this cannot be done, then their content, varying with the variation of social milieu, must be omitted and only the form of their occurrence reconstructed as presumably the same wherever and whenever they happen.


But psychology is not exclusively individual psychology. We find numerous monographs listed as psychological, but studying conscious phenomena which are not supposed to have their source in " human nature " in general, but in special social conditions, which can vary with the variation of these conditions and still be common to all individuals in the same conditions, and which are therefore treated, not as mere states of individual beings, but as self-sufficient data to be studied without any necessary assumptions about the psychological, physiological, or biological constitution of the individuals composing the group. To this sphere of psychology belong all investigations that concern conscious phenomena particular to races, nationalities, religious, political, professional groups, corresponding to special occupations and interests, provoked by special influences of a social milieu, developed by educational activities and legal measures, etc. The term "social psychology" has become current for this type of investigations. The distinction of social from individual psychology and the methodological unity of social psychology as a separate science have not been sufficiently discussed, but we shall attempt to show that social psychology is precisely the science of attitudes and that, while its methods are essentially different from the methods of individual psychology, its field is as wide as conscious life.

Indeed, every manifestation of conscious life, however simple or complex, general or particular, can be treated as an attitude, because every one involves a tendency to action, whether this action is a process of mechanical activity producing physical changes in the material world, or an attempt to influence the attitudes of others by speech and gesture, or a mental activity which does not at the given moment find a social expression, or even a mere process of sensual apperception. And all the objects of these actions can be treated

( 28) as social value, for they all have some content which is or may be accessible to other individuals—even a personal "idea" can be communicated to others—and a meaning by which they may become the objects of the activity of others. And thus social psychology, when it undertakes to study the conscious phenomena found in a given social group, has no reasons a priori which force it to limit itself to a certain class of such phenomena to the exclusion of others; any manifestation of the conscious life of any member of the group is an attitude when taken in connection with the values which constitute the sphere of experience of this group, and this sphere includes data of the natural environment as well as artistic works or religious beliefs, technical products and economic relations as well as scientific theories. If, therefore, monographs in social psychology limit themselves to such special problems as, for example, the study of general conscious phenomena produced in a social group by certain physical, biological, economic, political influences, by common occupation, common religious beliefs, etc., the limitation may be justified by the social importance of these phenomena or even by only a particular interest of the author, but it is not necessitated by the nature of social psychology, which can study among the conscious phenomena occurring within the given social group, not only such as are peculiar to this group as a whole, but also, on the one hand, such as individual psychology assumes to be common to all conscious beings, and, on the other hand, such as may be peculiar to only one individual member of the group.

But of course not all the attitudes found in the conscious life of a social group have the same importance for the purposes of social psychology at a given moment, or even for its general purposes as a science of the social world. On the one hand, the task of every science in describing and generalizing the data is to reduce as far as possible the limit-

( 29) -less complexity of experience to a limited number of concepts, and therefore those elements of reality are the most important which are most generally found in that part of experience which constitutes the object-matter of a science. And thus for social psychology the importance of an attitude is proportionate to the number and variety of actions in which this attitude is manifested. The more generally an attitude is shared by the members of the given social group and the greater the part which it plays in the life of every member, the stronger the interest which it provokes in the social psychologist, while attitudes which are either peculiar to a few members of the group or which manifest themselves only on rare occasions have as such a relatively secondary significance, but may become significant through some connection with more general and fundamental attitudes.[2]

On the other hand, scientific generalizations are productive and valuable only in so far as they help to discover certain relations between various classes of the generalized data and to establish a systematic classification by a logical subordination and co-ordination of concepts; a generalization which bears no relation to others is useless. Now, as the main body of the materials of social psychology is constituted by cultural attitudes, corresponding to variable and multiform cultural values, such elementary natural attitudes as correspond to stable and uniform physical conditions —for example, attitudes manifested in sensual perception or in the action of eating—in spite of their generality and practical importance for the human race, can be usefully investigated within the limits of this science only if a connection

(30) call be found between them and the cultural attitudes — if, for example, it can be shown that sensual perception or the organic attitude of disgust varies within certain limits with t he variation of social conditions. As long as there is no possibility of an actual subordination or co-ordination as between the cultural and the natural attitudes, the natural attitudes have no immediate interest for social psychology, and their investigation remains a task of individual psychology. In other words, those conscious phenomena corresponding to the physical world can be introduced into social psychology only if it can be shown that they are not purely "natural"—independent of social conditions—but also in some measure cultural-influenced by social values.

Thus, the field of social psychology practically comprises first of all the attitudes which are more or less generally found among the members of a social group, have a real importance in the life-organization of the individuals who have developed them, and manifest themselves in social activities of these individuals. This field can be indefinitely enlarged in two directions if the concrete problems of social psychology demand it. It may include attitudes which are particular to certain members of the social group or appear in the group only on rare occasions, as soon as they acquire for some reason a social importance; thus, some personal sexual idiosyncrasy will interest social psychology only if it becomes an object of imitation or of indignation to other members of the group or if it helps to an understanding of more general sexual attitudes. On the other hand, the field of social psychology may be extended to such attitudes as manifest themselves with regard, not to the social, but to the physical, environment of the individual, as soon as they show themselves affected by social culture; for example, the perception of colors would become a socio-

( 31) -psychological problem if it proved to have evolved during the cultural evolution under the influence of decorative arts.

Social psychology has thus to perform the part of a general science of the subjective side of social culture which we have heretofore usually ascribed to individual psychology or to "psychology in general." It may claim to be the science of consciousness as manifested in culture, and its function is to render service, as a general auxiliary science, to all the special sciences dealing with various spheres of social values. This does not mean that social psychology can ever supplant individual psychology; the methods and standpoints of these two sciences are too different to permit either of them to fulfil the function of the other, and, if it were not for the traditional use of the term "psychology" for both types of research, it would be even advisable to emphasize this difference by a distinct terminology.

But when we study the life of a concrete social group we find a certain very important side of this life which social psychology cannot adequately take into account, which none of the special sciences of culture treats as its proper object-matter, and which during the last fifty years has constituted the central sphere of interest of the various researches called sociology. Among the attitudes prevailing within a group some express themselves only in individual actions—uniform or multiform, isolated or combined—but only in actions. But there are other attitudes—usually, though not always, the most general ones—which, besides expressing themselves directly, like the first, in actions, find also an indirect manifestation in more or less explicit and formal rules of behavior by which the group tends to maintain, to regulate, and to make more general and more frequent the corresponding type of actions among its members. These rules—customs and rituals, legal and educational norms, obligatory beliefs and aims, etc.—arouse a twofold

(32) interest. We may treat them, like actions, as manifestations of attitudes, as indices showing that, since the group demands a certain kind of actions, the attitude which is supposed to manifest itself in these actions is shared by all those who uphold the rule. But, on the other hand, the very existence of a rule shows that there are some, even if only weak and isolated, attitudes which do not fully harmonize with the one expressed in the rule, and that the group feels the necessity of preventing these attitudes from passing into action. Precisely as far as the rule is consciously realized as binding by individual members of the group from whom it demands a certain adaptation, it has for every individual a certain content and a certain meaning and is a value. Furthermore, the action of an individual viewed by the group, by another individual, or even by himself in reflection, with regard to this action's agreement or disagreement with the rule, becomes also a value to which a certain attitude of appreciation or depreciation is attached in various forms. In this way rules and actions, taken, not with regard to the attitudes expressed in them, but with regard to the attitudes provoked by them, are quite analogous to any other values—economic, artistic, scientific, religious, etc. There may be many various attitudes corresponding to a rule or action as objects of individual reflection and appreciation, and a certain attitude—such as, for example, the desire for personal freedom or the feeling of social righteousness—may bear positively or negatively upon many rules and actions, varying from group to group and from individual to individual. These values cannot, therefore, be the object-matter of social psychology; they constitute a special group of objective cultural data alongside the special domains of other cultural sciences like economics, theory of art, philology, etc. The rules of behavior, and the actions viewed as conforming or not conforming with these rules, constitute

(33) with regard to their objective significance a certain number of more or less connected and harmonious systems which can be generally called social institutions, and the totality of institutions found in a concrete social group constitutes the social organization of this group. And when studying the social organization as such we must subordinate attitudes to values as we do in other special cultural sciences; that is, attitudes count for us only as influencing and modifying rules of behavior and social institutions.

Sociology, as theory of social organization, is thus a special science of culture like economics or philology, and is in so far opposed to social psychology as the general science of the subjective side of culture. But at the same time it has this in common with social psychology: that the values which it studies draw all their reality, all their power to influence human life, from the social attitudes which are expressed or supposedly expressed in them; if the individual in his behavior is so largely determined by the rules prevailing in his social group, it is certainly due neither to the rationality of these rules nor to the physical consequences which their following or breaking may have, but to his consciousness that these rules represent attitudes of his group and to his realization of the social consequences which will ensue for him if he follows or breaks the rules. And therefore both social psychology and sociology can be embraced under the general term of social theory, as they are both concerned with the relation between the individual and the concrete social group, though their standpoints on this common ground are quite opposite, and though their fields are not equally wide, social psychology comprising the attitudes of the individual toward all cultural values of the given social group, while sociology can study only one type of these values—social rules—in their relation to individual attitudes.


We have seen that social psychology has a central field of interest including the most general and fundamental cultural attitudes found within concrete societies. In the same manner there is a certain domain which constitutes the methodological center of sociological interest. It includes those rules of behavior which concern more especially the active relations between individual members of the group and between each member and the group as a whole. It is these rules, indeed, manifested as mores, laws, and group-ideals and systematized in such institutions as the family, the tribe, the community, the free association, the state, etc., which constitute the central part of social organization and provide through this organization the essential conditions of the existence of a group as a distinct cultural entity and not a mere agglomeration of individuals; and hence all other rules which a given group may develop and treat as obligatory have a secondary sociological importance as compared with these. But this does not mean that sociology should not extend its field of investigation beyond this methodological center of interest. Every social group, particularly on lower stages of cultural evolution, is inclined to control all individual activities, not alone those which attain directly its fundamental institutions. Thus we find social regulations of economic, religious, scientific, artistic activities, even of technique and speech, and the break of these regulations is often treated as affecting the very existence of the group. And we must concede that, though the effect of these regulations on cultural productivity is often more than doubtful, they do contribute as long as they last to the unity of the group, while, on the other hand, the close association which has been formed between these rules and the fundamental social institutions without which the group cannot exist has often the consequence that cultural evolution which destroys the influence of these secondary regula-

(35) -tions may actually disorganize the group. Precisely as far as these social rules concerning special cultural activities are in the above-determined way connected with the rules which bear on social relations they acquire an interest for sociology. Of course it can be determined only a posteriori how far the field of sociology should be extended beyond the investigation of fundamental social institutions, and the situation varies from group to group and from period to period. In all civilized societies some part of every cultural activity—religious, economic, scientific, artistic, etc.—is left outside of social regulation, and another, perhaps even larger, part, though still subjected to social rules, is no longer supposed to affect directly the existence or coherence of society and actually does not affect it. It is therefore a grave methodological error to attempt to include generally in the field of sociology such cultural domains as religion or economics on the ground that in certain social groups religious or economic norms are considered—and in some measure even really are—a part of social organization, for even there the respective values have a content which cannot be completely reduced to social rules of behavior, and their importance for social organization may be very small or even none in other societies or at other periods of evolution.

The fundamental distinction between social psychology and sociology appears clearly when we undertake the comparative study of special problems in various societies, for these problems naturally divide themselves into two classes. We may attempt to explain certain attitudes by tracing their origin and trying to determine the laws of their appearance under various social circumstances, as, for example, when we investigate sexual love or feeling of group—solidarity, bashfulness or showing off, the mystical emotion or the aesthetic amateur attitude, etc. Or we may attempt to give

(36) an explanation of social institutions and try to subject to laws their appearance under various socio-psychological conditions, as when our object-matter is marriage or family, criminal legislation or censorship of scientific opinions, militarism or parliamentarism, etc. But when we study monographically a concrete social group with all its fundamental attitudes and values, it is difficult to make a thoroughgoing separation of socio-psychological and sociological problems, for any concrete body of material contains both. Consequently, since the present work, and particularly its first two volumes, is precisely a monograph of a concrete social group, we cannot go into a detailed analysis of methodological questions concerning exclusively the socio-psychological or sociological investigation in particular, but must limit ourselves to such general methodological indications as concern both. Later, in connection with problems treated in subsequent volumes, more special methodological discussions may be necessary and will be introduced in their proper place.

The chief problems of modern science are problems of causal explanation. The determination and systematization of data is only the first step in scientific investigation. If a science wishes to lay the foundation of a technique, it must attempt to understand and to control the process of becoming. Social theory cannot avoid this task, and there is only one way of fulfilling it. Social becoming, like natural becoming, must be. analyzed into a plurality of facts, each of which represents a succession of cause and effect. The idea of social theory is the analysis of the totality of social becoming into such causal processes and a systematization permitting us to understand the connections between these processes. No arguments a priori trying to demonstrate the impossibility of application of the principle of causality to conscious human life in general can or should halt social

( 37) theory in tending to this idea, whatever difficulties there may be in the way, because as a matter of fact we continually do apply the principle of causality to the social world in our activity and in our thought, and we shall always do this as long as we try to control social becoming in any form. So, instead of fruitlessly discussing the justification of this application in the abstract, social theory must simply strive to make it more methodical and perfect in the concrete—by the actual process of investigation.

But if the general philosophical problem of free will and determinism is negligible, the particular problem of the best possible method of causal explanation is very real. Indeed, its solution is the fundamental and inevitable introductory task of a science which, like social theory, is still in the period of formation. The great and most usual illusion of the scientist is that he simply takes the facts as they are, without any methodological prepossessions, and gets his explanation entirely a posteriori from pure experience. A fact by itself is already an abstraction; we isolate a certain limited aspect of the concrete process of becoming, rejecting, at least provisionally, all its indefinite complexity. The question is only whether we perform this abstraction methodically or not, whether we know what and why we accept and reject, or simply take uncritically the old abstractions of "common sense." If we want to reach scientific explanations, we must keep in mind that our facts must be determined in such a way as to permit of their subordination to general laws. A fact which cannot be treated as a manifestation of one or several laws is inexplicable causally. When, for example, the historian speaks of the causes of the present war, he must assume that the war is a combination of the effects of many causes, each of which may repeat itself many times in history and must have always the same effect, although such a combination of these causes as has produced the present war

( 38) may never happen again. And only if social theory succeeds in determining causal laws can it become a basis of social technique; for technique demands the possibility of foreseeing and calculating the effects of given causes, and this demand is realizable only if we know that certain causes will always and everywhere produce certain effects.

Now, the chief error of both social practice and social theory has been that they determined, consciously or unconsciously, social facts in a way which excluded in advance the possibility of their subordination to any laws. The implicit or explicit assumption was that a social fact. is composed of two elements, a cause which is either a social phenomenon or an individual act, and an effect which is either an individual act or a social phenomenon. hollowing uncritically the example of the physical sciences, which always tend to find the one determined phenomenon which is the necessary and sufficient condition of another phenomenon, social theory and social practice have forgotten to take into account one essential difference between physical and social reality, which is that, while the effect of a physical phenomenon depends exclusively on the objective nature of this phenomenon and can be calculated on the ground of the latter's empirical content, the effect of a social phenomenon depends in addition on the subjective standpoint taken by the individual or the group toward this phenomenon and can be calculated only if we know, not only the objective content of the assumed cause, but also the meaning which it has at the given moment for the given conscious beings. This simple consideration should have shown to the social theorist or technician that a social cause cannot be simple, like a physical cause, but is compound, and must include both an objective and a subjective element, a value and an attitude. Otherwise the effect will appear accidental and incalculable, because we shall have to search in every par-

( 39) -ticular case for the reasons why this particular individual or this particular society reacted to the given phenomenon in this way and not in any other way.

In fact, a social value, acting upon individual members of the group, produces a more or less different effect on every one of them; even when acting upon the same individual at various moments it does not influence him uniformly. The influence of a work of art is a typical example. And such uniformities as exist here are quite irrelevant, for they are not absolute. If we once suppose that a social phenomenon is the cause—which means a necessary and sufficient cause, for there are no "insufficient" causes—of an individual reaction, then our statement of this causal dependence has the logical claim of being a scientific law from which there can be no exceptions; that is, every seeming exception must be explained by the action of some other cause, an action whose formulation becomes another scientific law. But to explain why in a concrete case a work of art or a legal prescription which, according to our supposed law, should provoke in the individual a certain reaction A provokes instead a reaction I3, we should have to investigate the whole past of this individual and repeat this investigation in every case, with regard to every individual whose reaction is not A, without hoping ever to subordinate those exceptions to a new law, for the life-history of every individual is different. Consequently social theory tries to avoid this methodological absurdity by closing its eyes to the problem itself. It is either satisfied with statements of causal influences which hold true "on the average," "in the majority of cases "—a flat self-contradiction, for, if something is a cause, it must have by its very definition, always and necessarily the same effect, otherwise it is not a cause at all. Or it tries to analyze phenomena acting upon individuals and individual reactions to them into simpler elements, hoping thus to find simple

(40) facts, while the trouble is not with the complexity of data, but with the complexity of the context on which these data act or in which they are embodied—that is, of the human personality. Thus, as far as the complexity of social data is concerned, the principle of gravitation and the smile of Mona Lisa are simple in their objective content, while their influence on human attitudes has been indefrnitely varied, the complex system of a graphomaniac or the elaborate picture of a talentless and skilless man provokes much more uniform reactions. And, on the individual side, the simple attitude of anger can be provoked by an indefinite variety of social phenomena, while the very complicated attitude of militant patriotism appears usually only in very definite social conditions.

But more than this. Far from obviating the problem of individual variations, such uniformities of reaction to social influences as can be found constitute a problem in themselves. For with the exception of the elementary reactions to purely physical stimuli, which may be treated as identical because of the identity of "human nature" and as such belong to individual psychology, all uniformities with which social psychology has to deal are the product of social conditions. If the members of a certain group react in an identical way to certain values, it is because they have been socially trained to react thus, because the traditional rules of behavior predominant in the given group impose upon every member certain ways of defining and solving the practical situations which he meets in his life. But the very success of this social training, the very fact that individual members do accept such definitions and act in accordance with them, is no less a problem than the opposite fact—the frequent insuccess of the training, the growing assertion of the personality, the growing variation of reaction to social rules, the search for personal definitions—which character-

(41) -izes civilized societies. And thus, even if we find that all the members of a social group react in the same way to a certain value, still we cannot assume that this value alone is the cause of this reaction, for the latter is also conditioned by the uniformity of attitudes prevailing in the group; and this uniformity itself cannot be taken as granted and omitted—as we omit the uniformity of environing conditions in a physical fact—because it is the particular effect of certain social rules acting upon the members of the group who, because of certain predispositions, have accepted these rules, and this effect may be at any moment counterbalanced by the action of different causes, and is in fact counterbalanced more and more frequently with the progress of civilization.

In short, when social theory assumes that a certain social value is of itself the cause of a certain individual reaction, it is then forced to ask: "But why did this value produce this particular effect when acting on this particular individual or group at this particular moment?" Certainly no scientific answer to such a question is possible, since in order to explain this "why" we should have to know the whole past of the individual, of the society, and of the universe.

Analogous methodological difficulties arise when social theory attempts to explain a change in social organization as a result of the activity of the members of the group. If we treat individual activity as a cause of social changes, every change appears as inexplicable, particularly when it is "original," presents many new features. Necessarily this point is one of degree, for every product of individual activity is in a sense a new value and in so far original as it has not existed before this activity, but in certain cases the importance of the change brought by the individual makes its incalculable and inexplicable character particularly striking. We have therefore almost despaired of extending consistently

( 42) the principle of causality to the activities of "great men," while it still seems to us that we do understand the everyday productive activity of the average human individual or of the "masses." From the methodological standpoint, how ever, it is neither more nor less difficult to explain the greatest changes brought into the social world by a Charles the Great, a Napoleon, a Marx, or a Bismarck than to explain a small change brought by a peasant who starts a lawsuit against his relatives or buys a piece of land to increase his farm. The work of the great man, like that of the ordinary man, is the result of his tendency to modify the existing conditions, of his attitude toward his social environment which makes him reject certain existing values and produce certain new values. The difference is in the values which are the object of the activity, in the nature, importance, complexity, of the social problems put and solved. The change in social organization produced by a great man may be thus equivalent to an accumulation of small changes brought by millions of ordinary men, but the idea that a creative process is more explicable when it lasts for several generations than when it is performed in a few months or days, or that by dividing a creative process into a million small parts we destroy its irrationality, is equivalent to the conception that by a proper combination of mechanical elements in a machine we can produce a perpetuum mobile.

The simple and well-known fact is that the social results of individual activity depend, not only on the action itself, but also on the social conditions in which it. is performed; and therefore the cause of a social change must. include both individual and social elements. By ignoring this, social theory faces an infinite task whenever it wants to explain the simplest social change. For the same action in different social conditions produces quite different results. It is true that if social conditions are sufficiently stable the results of

(43) certain individual actions arc more or less determinable, at least in a sufficient majority of cases to permit an approximate practical calculation. We know that the result of the activity of a factory-workman will be a certain technical product, that the result of the peasant's starting a lawsuit against a member of his family will be a dissolution of family bonds between him and this member, that the result of a judge's activity in a criminal case will be the condemnation and incarceration of the offender if he is convicted. But all this holds true only if social conditions remain stable. In case of a strike in the factory, the workman will not be allowed to finish his product; assuming that the idea of family solidarity has ceased to prevail in a peasant group, the lawsuit will not provoke moral indignation; if the action upon which the judge has to pronounce this verdict ceases to be treated as a crime because of a change of political conditions or of public opinion, the offender, even if convicted, will be set free. A method which permits us to determine only cases of stereotyped activity and leaves us helpless in face of changed conditions is not a scientific method at all, and becomes even less and less practically useful with the continual increase of fluidity in modern social life.

Moreover, social theory forgets also that the uniformity of results of certain actions is itself a problem and demands explanation exactly as much as do the variations. For the stability of social conditions upon which the uniformity of results of individual activity depends is itself a product of former activities, not an original natural status which might be assumed as granted. Both its character and its degree vary from group to group and from epoch to epoch. A certain action may have indeed determined and calculable effects in a certain society and at a certain period, but will have completely different effects in other societies and at other periods.

( 44)

And thus social theory is again confronted by a scientifically absurd question. Assuming that individual activity in itself is the cause of social effects, it must then ask: “Why does a certain action produce this particular effect at this particular moment in this particular society?” The answer to this question would demand a complete explanation of the whole status of the given society at the given moment, and thus for us to investigate the entire past of the universe.

The fundamental methodological principle of both social psychology and sociology – the principle without which they can never reach scientific explanation –is therefor the following one:

The cause of a social or individual phenomenon is never another social or individual phenomenon alone, but always a combination of a social and an individual phenomenon

Or, in more exact terms:

The cause of a value or an attitude is never an attitude or a value alone, but always a combination of an attitude and a value.[3]

It is only by the application of this principle that we can remove the difficulties with which social theory and social practice have struggles. If we wish to explain the appearance of a new attitude–whether in one individual or in a who group–we know that this attitude appeared as a consequence of the influence of a social value upon the individual or the group, but we know also that this influence itself

( 45) would have been impossible unless there had been some preexisting attitude, some wish, emotional habit, or intellectual tendency, to which this value has in some way appealed, favoring it, contradicting it, giving it a new direction, or stabilizing its hesitating expressions. Our problem is therefore to find both the value and the pre-existing attitude upon which it has acted and get in their combination the necessary and sufficient cause of the new attitude. We shall not be forced then to ask: "Why did this value provoke in this case such a reaction ?" because the answer will be included in the fact— in the pre-existing attitude to which this value appealed. Our fact will bear its explanation in itself, just as the physical fact of the movement of an elastic body B when struck by another elastic moving body A bears its explanation in itself. We may, if we wish, ask for a more detailed explanation, not only of the appearance of the new attitude, but also for certain specific characters of this attitude, in the same way as we may ask for an explanation, not only of the movement of the body B in general, but also of the rapidity and direction of this movement; but the problem always remains limited, and the explanation is within the fact, in the character of the pre-existing attitude and of the influencing value, or in the masses of the bodies A and B and the rapidity and direction of their movements previous to their meeting. We can indeed pass from the given fact to the new one——ask, for example, "How did it happen that this attitude to which the value appealed was there ? " or, "How did it happen that the body A moved toward B until they met ?" But this question again will find its limited and definite answer if we search in the same way for the cause of the pre-existing attitude in some other attitude and value, or of the movement in some other movement.

Let us take some examples from the following volumes. Two individuals, under the influence of a tyrannical behavior

( 46) in their fathers, develop completely different attitudes. One shows submission, the other secret revolt and resentment. If the father's tyranny is supposed to be the cause of these opposite attitudes, we must know the whole character of these individuals and their whole past in order to explain the difference of effect. But if we realize that the tyranny is not the sole cause of both facts, but only a common element which enters into the composition of two different causes, our simple task will be to find the other elements of these causes. We can find them, if our materials are sufficient, in certain persisting attitudes of these individuals as expressed in words or actions. We form hypotheses which acquire more and more certainty as we compare many similar cases. We thus reach the conclusion that the other element of the cause is, in the first case, the attitude of familial solidarity, in the second case, the individualistic tendency to assert one's own personal desires. We have thus two completely different facts, and we do not need to search farther. The difference of effects is obviously explained by the difference of causes and is necessarily what it is. The cause of the attitude of submission is the attitude of familial solidarity plus the tyranny of the father; the cause of the attitude of revolt is the tendency to self-assertion plus the tyranny of the father.

As another example—this time a mass-phenomenon—we take the case of the Polish peasants from certain western communities who go to Germany for season-work and show there uniformly a desire to do as much piece-work as possible and work as hard as they can in order to increase their earnings, while peasants of these same communities and even the same individual peasants when they stay at home and work during the season on the Polish estates accept only day-work and refuse piece-work under the most ridiculous pretexts. We should be inclined to ascribe this difference

( 47) of attitudes to the difference of conditions, and in fact both the peasants and the Polish estate-owners give this explanation, though they differ as to the nature of causes. The peasants say that the conditions of piece-work are less favorable in Poland than in Germany; the estate-owners claim that the peasants in Germany are more laborious because intimidated by the despotism of German estate-owners and farm-managers. Both contentions are wrong. The conditions of piece-work as compared with day-work are certainly not less favorable in Poland than in Germany, and the peasants are more laborious in Germany on their own account, regardless of the very real despotism which they find there. To be sure, the conditions are different; the whole social environment differs. The environment, however, is not the sufficient cause of the attitudes. The point is that the peasant who goes to Germany is led there by the desire of economic advance, and this attitude predominates during the whole period of season-work, not on account of the conditions themselves, but through the feeling of being in definite new conditions, and produces the desire to earn more by piece-work. On the contrary, the peasant who stays at home preserves for the time being his old attitude toward work as a "necessary evil," and this attitude, under the influence of traditional ideas about the conditions of work on an estate, produces the unwillingness to accept piecework. Here both components of the cause—pre-existing attitude and value-idea—differ, and evidently the effects must be different.

If now we have to explain the appearance of a social value, we know that this value is a product of the activity of an individual or a number of individuals, and in so far dependent on the attitude of which this activity is the expression. But we know also that this result is inexplicable unless we take into consideration the value (or complex of

( 48) values) which was the starting-point and the social material of activity and which has conditioned the result as much as slid the attitude itself. The new value is the result of the solution of a problem set by the pre-existing value and the active attitude together; it is the common effect of both of them. The product of an activity—even of a mechanical activity, such as a manufactured thing—acquires its full social reality only when it enters into social life, becomes the object of the attitudes of the group, is socially valued. And we can understand this meaning, which is an essential part of the effect, only if we know what was the social situation when the activity started, what was the social value upon which the individual (or individuals) specially acted and which might have been quite different from the one upon which he intended to act and imagined that he acted. If we once introduce this pre-existing value into the fact as the necessary component of the cause, the effect—the new value — will be completely explicable and we shall not be forced to ask: "Why is it that this activity has brought in these conditions this particular effect instead of the effect it was intended to bring ?" any more than physics is forced to ask: "Why is it that an elastic body struck by another elastic body changes the direction and rapidity of its movement instead of changing merely its rapidity or merely its direction ? "

To take some further examples, the American social institutions try, by a continuous supervision and interference, to develop a strong marriage-group organization among the Polish immigrants who begin to show certain signs of decay of family life or among whom the relation between husband and wife and children does not come up to the American standards in certain respects. The results of this activity are quite baffling. Far from being constructive of new values, the interference proves rather destructive in a great

( 49) majority of cases, in spite of the best efforts of the most intelligent social workers. In a few cases it does not seem to affect much the existing state of things; sometimes, indeed, though very seldom, it does bring good results. This very variation makes the problem still more complicated and difficult. To explain the effects, the social workers try to take into consideration the whole life-history and character of the individuals with whom they deal, but without progressing much in their efforts. The whole misunderstanding comes from the lack of realization that the Polish immigrants here, though scattered and losing most of their social coherence, are still not entirely devoid of this coherence and constitute vague and changing but as yet, in some measure, real communities, and that these communities have brought from the old country several social institutions, among which the most important is the family institution. In new conditions these institutions gradually dissolve, and we shall study this process in later volumes. But the dissolution is not sudden or universal, and thus the American social worker in his activity meets, without realizing it, a set of social values which are completely strange to him, and which his activity directly affects without his knowing it. As far as the family organization is concerned, any interference of external powers—political or social authorities must act dissolvingly upon it, because it affects the fundamental principle of the family as a social institution—the principle of solidarity. An individual who accepts external interference in his favor against a family member sins against this principle, and a break of family relations must be thus the natural consequence of the well-intentioned but insufficiently enlightened external activities. The effect is brought, not by these activities alone, but by the combination of these activities and the pre-existing peasant family organization. Of course, if the family organization is

(50) different—if, for example, in a given case the marriage-group has already taken the place of the large family—the effect will be different because the total cause is different. Or, if instead of the protective and for the peasant incomprehensible attitude of the social worker or court officer a different attitude is brought into action—if, for example, the family is surrounded by a strong and solidary community of equals who, from the standpoint of communal solidarity, interfere with family relations, just as they do in the old country—again the effect will be different because the other component of the cause—the attitude as expressed in action —is no longer the same.

Another interesting example is the result of the national persecution of the Poles in Prussia, the aim of which was to destroy Polish national cohesion. Following all the efforts which the powerful Prussian state could bring against the Poles, national cohesion has in a very large measure increased, and the national organization has included such elements as were before the persecution quite indifferent to national problems—the majority of the peasants and of the lower city classes. The Prussian government had not realized the existence and strength of the communal solidarity principle in the lower classes of Polish society, and by attacking certain vital interests of these classes, religious and economic, it contributed more than the positive efforts of the intelligent Polish class could have done to the development of this principle and to its extension over the whole Polish society in Posen, Silesia, and West Prussia.

These examples of the result of the violation of our methodological rule could be multiplied indefinitely from the field of social reform. The common tendency of reformers is to construct a rational scheme of the social institution they wish to see produced or abolished, and then to formulate an ideal plan of social activities which would perhaps

( 51) lead to a realization of their scheme if social life were merely a sum of individual actions, every one of them starting afresh without any regard for tradition, every one having its source exclusively in the psychological nature of the individual and capable of being completely directed, by well-selected motives, toward definite social aims. But as social reality contains, not only individual acts, but also social institutions, not only attitudes, but also values fixed by tradition and conditioning the attitudes, these values cooperate in the production of the final effect quite independently, and often in spite of the intentions of the social reformer. Thus the socialist, if he presupposes that a solidary and well-directed action of the masses will realize the scheme of a perfect socialistic organization, ignores completely the influence of the whole existing social organization which will co-operate with the revolutionary attitudes of the masses in producing the new organization, and this, not only because of the opposition of those who will hold to the traditional values, but also because many of those values, as socially sanctioned rules for defining situations, will continue to condition many attitudes of the masses themselves and will thus be an integral part of the causes of the final effect.

Of course we do not assert that the proper way of formulating social facts is never used by social theory or reflective social practice. On the contrary, we very frequently find it applied in the study of particular cases, and it is naively used in everyday business and personal relations. We use it in all cases involving argument and persuasion. The business man, the shopkeeper, and the politician use it very subtly. We have been compelled in the case of our juvenile delinquents to allow the judges to waive the formal and incorrect conception of social facts and to substitute in the case of the child the proper formula. But the point is that this formula has never been applied with any consistency

( 52) and systematic development, while the wrong formula has been used very thoroughly and has led to such imposing systems as, in reflective practice, the whole enormous and continually growing complexity of positive law, and in social theory to the more recent and limited, but rapidly growing, accumulation of works on political science, philosophy of law, ethics, and sociology. At every step we try to enforce certain attitudes upon other individuals without stopping to consider what are their dominant attitudes in general or their prevailing attitudes at the given moment; at every step we try to produce certain social values without taking into account the values which are already there and upon which the result of our efforts will depend as much as upon our intention and persistence.

The chief source of this great methodological mistake, whose various consequences we have shown in the first part of this note, lay probably in the fact that social theory and reflective practice started with problems of political and legal organization. Having thus to deal with the relatively uniform attitudes and relatively permanent conditions which characterized civilized societies several thousand years ago, and relying besides upon physical force as a supposedly infallible instrument for the production of social uniformity and stability whenever the desirable attitudes were absent, social theory and reflective practice have been capable of holding and of developing, without remarking its absurdity, a standpoint which would be scientifically and technically justifiable only if human attitudes were absolutely and universally uniform and social conditions absolutely and universally stable.

A systematic application and development of the methodological rules stated above would necessarily lead in a completely different direction. Its final result would

( 53) not be a system of definitions, like law and special parts of political science, nor a system of the philosophical determination of the essence of certain data, like philosophy of law, the general part of political science, ethics, and many sociological works, nor a general outline of social evolution, like the sociology of the Spencerian school or the philosophies of history, but a system of laws of social becoming, in which definitions, philosophical determinations of essence, and outlines of evolution would play the same part as they do in physical science—that is, would constitute either instruments helping to analyze reality and to find laws, or conclusions helping to understand the general scientific meaning and the connection of laws.

It is evident that such a result can be attained only by a long and persistent co-operation of social theoricians. It took almost four centuries to constitute physical science in its present form, and, though the work of the social scientist is incalculably facilitated by the long training in scientific thinking in general which has been acquired by mankind since the period of the renaissance, it is on the other hand made more difficult by certain characters of the social world as compared with the natural world. We do not include among these difficulties the complexity of the social world which has been so often and unreflectively emphasized. Complexity is a relative characteristic; it depends on the method and the purpose of analysis. Neither the social nor the natural world presents any ready and absolutely simple elements, and in this sense they are both equally complex, because they are both infinitely complex. But this complexity is a metaphysical, not a scientific, problem. In science we treat any datum as a simple element if it behaves as such in all the combinations in which we find it, and any fact is a simple fact which can indefinitely repeat itself—that is, in which the relation between cause and effect can

(54) be assumed to be permanent and necessary. And in this respect it is still a problem whether the social world will not prove much less complex than the natural world if only we analyze its data and determine its facts by proper methods. The prepossession of complexity is due to the naturalistic way of treating 'the social reality. If it is maintained that the social world has to be treated as an expression or a product of the psychological, physiological, or biological nature of human beings, then, of course, it appears as incomparably more complex than the natural world, because to the already inexhaustibly complex conscious human organism as a part of nature is added the fact that in a social group there are numerous and various human beings interacting in the most various ways. But if we study the social world, without any naturalistic prepossessions, simply as a plurality of specific data, causally interconnected in a process of becoming, the question of complexity is no more baffling for social theory, and may even prove less so, than it is for physical science.

The search for laws does not actually present any special difficulties if our facts have been adequately determined. When we have found that a certain effect is produced by a certain cause, the formulation of this causal dependence has in itself the character of a law; that is, we assume that whenever this cause repeats itself the effect will necessarily follow. The further need is to explain apparent exceptions. But this need of explanation, which is the stumbling-block of a theory that has defined its facts inadequately, becomes, on the contrary, a factor of progress when the proper method is employed. For when we know that a certain cause can have only one determined effect, when we have assumed, for example, that the attitude A plus the value B is the cause of the attitude C, then if the presumed cause A +B is there and the expected effect C does not appear, this means either that

( 55) we have been mistaken in assuming that A +B was the cause of C, or that the action of A+B was interfered with by the action of some other cause A+Y or X+B or X+Y. In the first case the exception gives us the possibility of correcting our error; in the second case it permits us to extend our knowledge by finding a new causal connection, by determining the partly or totally unknown cause A+ Y or X+B or X+Y which has interfered with the action of our known case A+B and brought a complex effect D=C+Z, instead of the expected C. And thus the exception from a law becomes the starting-point for the discovery of a new law.

This explanation of apparent exceptions being the only logical demand that can be put upon a law, it is evident that the difference between particular and general laws is only a difference of the field of application, not one of logical validity. Suppose we find in the present work some laws concerning the social life of Polish peasants showing that whenever there is a pre-existing attitude A and the influence of a value B, another attitude C appears, or whenever there is a value D and an activity directed by an attitude E, a new value F is the effect. If the causes A +B and D+E arc found only in the social life of the Polish peasants and nowhere else, because some of their components—the attitudes or values involved—are peculiar to the Polish peasants, then, of course, the laws A+B=C and D+E=F will be particular laws applicable only to the Polish peasant society, but within these limits as objectively valid as others which social theory may eventually find of applicability to humanity in general. We cannot extend them beyond these limits and do not need to extend them. But the situation will be different if the attitudes A and E and the values B and D arc not peculiar to the Polish peasant society, and thus the causes A +B and D+E can be found also in other societies. Then the laws A+B=C and D+E=F, based on

( 56) facts discovered among Polish peasants, will have quite a different meaning. But we cannot be sure whether they are valid for other societies until we have found that in other societies the causes A+B and D+E produce the same respective effects C and F. And since we cannot know whether these values and attitudes will be found or not in other societies until we have investigated these societies, the character of our laws must remain until then undetermined; we cannot say definitely whether they are absolutely valid though applicable only to the Polish peasants or only hypothetically valid although applicable to all societies.

The problem of laws being the most important one of methodology, we shall illustrate it in detail from two concrete examples. Of course we do not really assert that the supposed laws which we use in these illustrations are already established; some of them are still hypotheses, others even mere fictions. The purpose is to give an insight into the mechanism of the research.

Let us take as the first example the evolution of the economic life of the Polish peasant as described in the introduction to the first and second volumes of this work. We find there, first, a system of familial economic organization with a thoroughly social and qualitative character of economic social values, succeeded by an individualistic system with a quantification of the values. This succession as such does not determine any social fact; we obtain the formula of facts only if we find the attitude that constructs the second system out of the first. Now, this attitude is the tendency to economic advance, and thus our empirical facts are subsumed to the formula: familial system—tendency to advance—individualistic system. The same facts being found generally among Polish peasants of various localities, we can assume that this formula expresses a law, but whether

(57) it is a law applicable only to the Polish peasants or to all societies depends on whether such a familial economic organization associated with a tendency to advance results always and everywhere in an individualistic system. We may further determine that if we find the familial system, but instead of the tendency to economic advance another attitude—for example, the desire to concentrate political power in the family—the result will be different—for example, the feudal system of hereditary estate. Or we may find that if the tendency to economic advance acts upon a different system—for example, a fully developed economic individualism—it will also lead to a different social formation—for example, to the constitution of trusts. These other classes of facts may become in turn the bases of social hypotheses if they prove sufficiently general and uniform. But certainly, whether the law is particular or general, we must always be able to explain every seeming exception. For example, we find the familial system and the tendency to advance in a Polish peasant family group, but no formation of the individualistic system—the family tends to advance as a whole. In this case we must suppose that the evolution has been hindered by some factors which change the expected results. There may be, for example, a very strong attitude of family pride developed traditionally in all the members, as in families of peasant nobility who had particular privileges during the period of Poland's independence. In this case familial pride co-operating with the tendency to advance will produce a mixed system of economic organization, with quantification of values but without individualism. And if our law does not stand all these tests we have to drop it. But even then we may still suppose that its formulation was too general, that within the range of facts covered by these concepts a more limited and particular law could be discovered—for example, that the

(58) system of "work for living," under the influence of the tendency to advance, becomes a system of "work for wages."

As another type of example we select a particular case of legal practice and attempt to show what assumptions are implicitly involved in it, what social laws are uncritically assumed, and try to indicate in what way the assumptions of common sense could be verified, modified, complemented, or rejected, so as to make them objectively valid. For, if science is only developed, systematized, and perfected common sense, the work required to rectify common sense before it becomes science is incomparably greater than is usually supposed.

The case is simple. A Polish woman (K) has loaned to another (T) $300 at various times. After some years she claims her money back; the other refuses to pay. K goes to court. Both bring witnesses. The witnesses are examined. First assumption of legal practice, which we may put into the form of a social law, is: "A witness who has sworn to tell the truth will tell the truth, unless there are reasons for exception."[4] But according to our definition there can be no such law where only two elements are given. There might be a law if we had (1) the oath (a social value); (2) an individual attitude x, still to be determined; (3) a true testimony. But here the second element is lacking; nobody has determined the attitude which, in connection with the oath, results in a true testimony, and therefore, of course, nobody knows how to produce such an attitude. It is supposed that the necessary attitude—whatever it is

(59) appears automatically when the oath is taken. Naturally in many, if not in the majority of cases, the supposition proves false, and if it proves true, nobody knows why. In

our case it proved mainly false. Not only the witnesses of the defense, but some of the witnesses of the plaintiff, were lying. What explanation is possible ? We could, of course, if we knew what attitude is necessary for true testimony, determine why it was not there or what were the influences that hindered its action. But, not knowing it, we have simply to use some other common-sense generalization, such as: " If the witnesses are lying in spite of the oath, there is some interest involved—personal, familial, friendly." And this was the generalization admitted in this case, and it has no validity whatever because it cannot be converted into a law; we cannot say that interest is the cause making people lie, but we must have again the tertium quid—the attitude upon which the interest must act in order to produce a lie. And, on the other hand, a lie can be the result of other factors acting upon certain preexisting attitudes, and this was precisely the case in the example we are discussing. The Polish peasants lie in court because they bring into court a fighting attitude. Once the suit is started, it becomes a fight where considerations of honesty or altruism are no longer of any weight, and the only problem is—not to be beaten. Here we have, indeed, a formula that may become, if sufficiently verified, a sociological law—the lawsuit and a radical fighting attitude result in false testimonies. Apparent exceptions will then be explained by influences changing either the situation of the lawsuit or the attitude. Thus, in the actual case, the essence of most testimonies for the plaintiff was true, namely, the claim was real. But the claim preceded the lawsuit; the peasant woman would probably not have started the lawsuit without a just claim, for as long as the

(60) suit was not started considerations of communal solidarity were accepted as binding, and a false claim would have been considered the worst possible offense. The situation preceding the suit was, in short: law permitting the recovery of money that the debtor refused to pay-creditor's feeling of being wronged and desire of redress-legal complaint. There was no cause making a false claim possible, for the law, subjectively for the peasant, can be here only a means of redress, not a means of illicit wrong, since he does not master it sufficiently to use it in a wrong way, and the desire of redress is the only attitude not offset by the feeling of communal solidarity.

It would lead us too far if we analyzed all the assumptions made by legal practice in this particular case, but we mention one other. The attorney for the defense treated as absurd the claim of the plaintiff that she had loaned money without any determined interest, while she could have invested it at good interest and in a more secure way. The assumption was that, being given various possibilities of investing money, the subject will always select the one that is most economically profitable. We see here again the formal error of stating a law of two terms. The law can be binding only if the third missing term is inserted, namely, an attitude of the subject which we can express approximately: desire to increase fortune or income. Now, in the actual case, this attitude, if existing at all, was offset by the attitude of communal solidarity, and among the various possibilities of investing money, not the one that was economically profitable, but the one that gave satisfaction to the attitude of solidarity was selected.

The form of legal generalization is typical for all generalizations which assume only one datum instead of two as sufficient to determine the effect. It then becomes necessary to add as many new generalizations of the same type

( 61) as the current practice requires in order to explain the exceptions. These new generalizations limit the fundamental one without increasing positively the store of our knowledge, and the task is inexhaustible. Thus, we may enumerate indefinitely the possible reasons for a witness not telling the truth in spite of the oath, and still this will not help us to understand why he tells the truth when he tells it. And with any one of these reasons of exception the case is the same. If we say that the witness does not tell the truth when it is contrary to his interest, we must again add indefinitely reasons of exception from this rule without learning why the witness lies when the truth is not contrary to his interest if he does. And so on. If in practice this process of accounting for exceptions, then for exceptions from these exceptions, etc., does not go on indefinitely, it is simply because, in a given situation, we can stop at a certain point with sufficient approximation to make our error not too harmful practically.

It is evident that the only way of verifying, correcting, and complementing the generalizations of common sense is to add in every case the missing third element. We cannot, of course, say in advance how much will remain of these generalizations after such a conversion into exact sociological laws; probably, as far as social theory is concerned, it will be more economical to disregard almost completely the results of common sense and to investigate along quite new and independent lines. But for the sake of an immediate improvement of social practice it may sometimes prove useful to take different domains of practical activity and subject them to criticism.

In view of the prevalent tendency of common-sense generalizations to neglect the differences of values and attitudes prevailing in various social groups—a tendency well manifested in the foregoing example—the chief danger

(62) of sociology in searching for laws is rather to overestimate than to underestimate the generality of the laws which it may discover. We must therefore remember that there is less risk in assuming that a certain law applies exclusively in the given social conditions than in supposing that it may be extended over all societies.

The ideal of social theory, as of every other nomothetic science, is to interpret as many facts as possible by as few laws as possible, that is, not only to explain causally the life of particular societies at particular periods, but to subordinate these particular laws to general laws applicable to all societies at all times—taking into account the historical evolution of mankind which continually brings new data and new facts and thus forces us to search for new laws in addition to those already discovered. But the fact that social theory as such cannot test its results by the laboratory method, but must rely entirely on the logical perfection of its abstract analysis and synthesis, makes the problem of control of the validity of its generalizations particularly important. The insufficient realization of the character of this control has been the chief reason why so many sociological works bear a character of compositions, intermediary between philosophy and science and fulfilling the demands of neither.

We have mentioned above the fact that social theory as nomothetic science must be clearly distinguished from any philosophy of social life which attempts to determine the essence of social reality or to outline the unique process of social evolution. This distinction becomes particularly marked when we reach the problem of testing the generalizations. Every scientific law bears upon the empirical facts themselves in their whole variety, not upon their underlying common essence, and hence every new discovery in the domain which it embraces affects it directly and

( 63) immediately, either by corroborating it or by invalidating it. And, as scientific laws concern facts which repeat themselves, they automatically apply to the future as well as to the past, and new happenings in the domain embraced by the law must be taken into consideration as either justifying or contradicting the generalization based upon past happenings, or demanding that this generalization be supplemented by a new one.

And thus the essential criterion of social science as against social philosophy is the direct dependence of it's generalizations on new discoveries and new happenings. If a social generalization is not permanently qualified by the assumption that at any moment a single new experience may contradict it, forcing us either to reject it or to supplement it by other generalizations, it is not scientific and has no place in social theory, unless as a general principle helping to systematize the properly scientific generalizations. The physicist, the chemist, and the biologist have learned by the use of experiment that their generalizations are scientifically fruitful only if they are subject to the check of a possible experimental failure, and thus the use of experiment has helped them to pass from the mediaeval philosophic naturalis to the modern natural science. The social theorician must follow their example and methodically search only for such generalizations as are subject to the check of a possible contradiction by new facts and should leave the empirically unapproachable essences and meanings where they properly belong, and where they have a real though different importance and validity—in philosophy.

The ultimate test of social theory, as we have emphasized throughout the present note, will be its application in practice, and thus its generalizations will be also subject in the last resort to the check of a possible failure. However, practical application is not experimentation. The results

( 64) of the physical sciences are also ultimately tested by their application in industry, but this does not alter the fact that the test is made on the basis of laboratory experiments. The difference between experiment and application is twofold: (1) The problems themselves usually differ in complexity. The experiment by which we test a scientific law is artificially simplified in view of the special theoretic problem, whereas in applying scientific results to attain a practical purpose we have a much more complex situation to deal with, necessitating the use of several scientific laws and the calculation of their interference. This is a question with which we shall deal presently. (a) In laboratory experiments the question of the immediate practical value of success or failure is essentially excluded for the sake of their theoretical value. Whether the chemist in trying a new combination will spoil his materials and have to buy a new supply, whether the new combination will be worth more or less money than the elements used, are from the standpoint of science completely irrelevant questions; and even a failure if it puts the scientist on the trail of a new law will be more valuable than a success if it merely corroborates once more an old and well-established law. But in applying scientific results in practice we have essentially the practical value of success or failure in view. It is unthinkable that a chemist asked to direct the production of a new kind of soap in a factory should test his theory by direct application and risk the destruction of a hundred thousand dollars worth of material, instead of testing it previously on a small scale by laboratory experiments. Now in all so-called social experiments, on however small a scale, the question of practical value is involved, because the objects of these experiments are men; the social scientist cannot exclude the question of the bearing of his "experiments" on the future of those who are affected by them. He is therefore

( 66) seldom or never justified in risking a failure for the sake of testing his theory. Of course he does and can take risks, not as a scientist, but as a practical man; that is, he is justified in taking the risk of bringing some harm if there are more chances of benefit than of harm to those on whom he operates. His risk is then the practical risk involved in every application of an idea, not the special theoretic risk involved in the mere testing of the idea. And, in order to diminish this practical risk, he must try to make his theory as certain and applicable as possible before trying to apply it in fact, and he can secure this result and hand over to the social practitioner generalizations at least approximately as applicable as those of physical science, only if he uses the check of contradiction by new experience. This means that besides using only such generalizations as can be contradicted by new experiences he must not wait till new experiences impose themselves on him by accident, but must search for them, must institute a systematic method of observation. And, while it is only natural that a scientist in order to form a hypothesis and to give it some amount of probability has to search first of all for such experiences as may corroborate it, his hypothesis cannot be considered fully tested until he has made subsequently a systematic search for such experiences as may contradict it, and proved those contradictions to be only seeming, explicable by the interference of definite factors.

Assuming now that social theory fulfils its task satisfactorily and goes on discovering new laws which can be applied to regulate social becoming, what will be the effect of this on social practice ? First of all, the limitations with which social practice has struggled up to the present will be gradually removed. Since it is theoretically possible to find what social influences should be applied to certain

(66) already existing attitudes in order to produce certain new attitudes, and what attitudes should be developed with regard to certain already existing social values in order to make the individual or the group produce certain new social values, there is not a single phenomenon within the whole sphere of human life that conscious control cannot reach sooner or later. There are no objective obstacles in the nature of the social world or in the nature of the human mind which would essentially prevent social practice from attaining gradually the same degree of efficiency as that of industrial practice. The only obstacles arc of a subjective kind.

There is, first, the traditional appreciation of social activity as meritorious in itself, for the sake of its intentions alone. There must, indeed, be some results in order to make the good intentions count, but, since anything done is regarded as meritorious, the standards by which the results are appreciated are astonishingly low. Social practice must cease to be a matter of merit and be treated as a necessity. If the theorician is asked to be sure of his generalizations before trying to apply them in practice, it is at least strange that persons of merely good will are permitted to try out on society indefinitely and irresponsibly their vague and perhaps sentimental ideas.

The second obstacle to the development of a perfect social practice is the well-known unwillingness of the common-sense man to accept the control of scientific technique. Against this unwillingness there is only one weapon—success. This is what the history of industrial technique shows. There is perhaps not a single case where the first application of science to any field of practice held by common sense and tradition did not provoke the opposition of the practitioner. It is still within the memory of man that the old farmer with his common-sense methods laughed at the idea that the city chap could teach him any-

(67) -thing about farming, and was more than skeptical about the application of the results of soil-analysis to the growing of crops. The fear of new things is still strong even among cultivated persons, and the social technician has to expect that he will meet at almost every step this old typical hostility of common sense to science. He can only accept it and interpret it as a demand to show the superiority of his methods by their results.

But the most important difficulty which social practice has to overcome before reaching a level of efficiency comparable to that of industrial practice lies in the difficulty of applying scientific generalizations. The laws of science are abstract, while the practical situations are concrete, and it requires a special intellectual activity to find what are the practical questions which a given law may help to solve, or what are the scientific laws which may be used to solve a given practical question. In the physical sphere this intellectual activity has been embodied in technology, and it is only since the technologist has intervened between the scientist and the practitioner that material practice has acquired definitely the character of a self-conscious and planfully developing technique and ceased to be dependent on irrational and often unreasonable traditional rules. And if material practice needs a technology in spite of the fact that the generalizations which physical science hands over to it have been already experimentally tested, this need is much more urgent in social practice where the application of scientific generalizations is their first and only experimental test.

We cannot enter here into detailed indications of what social technology should be, but we must take into account the chief point of its method—the general form which every concrete problem of social technique assumes. Whatever may be the aim of social practice modification of individual

(68) attitudes or of social institutions—in trying to attain this aim we never find the elements which we want to use or to modify isolated and passively waiting for our activity, but always embodied in active practical situations, which have been formed independently of us and with which our activity has to comply.

The situation is the set of values and attitudes with which the individual or the group has to deal in a process of activity and with regard to which this activity is planned and its results appreciated. Every concrete activity is the solution of a situation. The situation involves three kinds of data: (1) The objective conditions under which the individual or society has to act, that is, the totality of values—economic, social, religious, intellectual, etc. which at the given moment affect directly or indirectly the conscious status of the individual or the group. (2) The pre-existing attitudes of the individual or the group which at the given moment have an actual influence upon his behavior. (3) The definition of the situation, that is, the more or less clear conception of the conditions and consciousness of the attitudes. And the definition of the situation is a necessary preliminary to any act of the will, for in given conditions and with a given set of attitudes an indefinite plurality of actions is possible, and one definite action can appear only if these conditions are selected, interpreted, and combined in a determined way and if a certain systematization of these attitudes is reached, so that one of them becomes predominant and subordinates the others. It happens, indeed, that a certain value imposes itself immediately and unreflectively and leads at once to action, or that an attitude as soon as it appears excludes the others and expresses itself unhesitatingly in an active process. In these cases, whose most radical examples are found in reflex and instinctive actions, the definition is already given

(69) to the individual by external conditions or by his own tendencies. But usually there is a process of reflection, after which either a ready social definition is applied or a new personal definition worked out.

Let us take a typical example out of the fifth volume of the present work, concerning the family life of the immigrants in America. A husband, learning of his wife's infidelity, deserts her. The objective conditions were: (1) the social institution of marriage with all the rules involved; (2) the wife, the other man, the children, the neighbors, and in general all the individuals constituting the habitual environment of the husband and, in a sense, given to him as values; (3) certain economic conditions; (4) the fact of the wife's infidelity. Toward all these values the husband had certain attitudes, some of them traditional, others recently developed. Now, perhaps under the influence of the discovery of his wife's infidelity, perhaps after having developed some new attitude toward the sexual or economic side of marriage, perhaps simply influenced by the advice of a friend in the form of a rudimentary scheme of the situation helping him to "see the point," he defines the situation for himself. He takes certain conditions into account, ignores or neglects others, or gives them a certain interpretation in view of some chief value, which may be his wife's infidelity, or the economic burdens of family life of which this infidelity gives him the pretext to rid himself, or perhaps some other woman, or the half-ironical pity of his neighbors, etc. And in this definition some one attitude—sexual jealousy, or desire for economic freedom, or love for the other woman, or offended desire for recognition—or a complex of these attitudes, or a new attitude (hate, disgust) subordinates to itself the others and manifests itself chiefly in the subsequent action, which is evidently a solution of the situation, and fully determined both in its social and in its individual

(70) components by the whole set of values, attitudes, and reflective schemes which the situation included. When a situation is solved, the result of the activity becomes an element of a new situation, and this is most clearly evidenced in cases where the activity brings a change of a social institution whose unsatisfactory functioning was the chief element of the first situation.

Now, while the task of science is to analyze by a comparative study the whole process of activity into elementary facts, and it must therefore ignore the variety of concrete situations in order to be able to find laws of causal dependence of abstractly isolated attitudes or values on other attitudes and values, the task of technique is to provide the means of a rational control of concrete situations. The situation can evidently be controlled either by a change of conditions or by a change of attitudes, or by both, and in this respect the role of technique as application of science is easily characterized. By comparing situations of a certain type, the social technician must find what are the predominant values or the predominant attitudes which determine the situation more than others, and then the question is to modify these values or these attitudes in the desired way by using the knowledge of social causation given by social theory. Thus, we may find that some of the situations among the Polish immigrants in America resulting in the husband's desertion are chiefly determined by the wife's infidelity, others by her quarrelsomeness, others by bad economic conditions, still others by the husband's desire for freedom, etc. And, if in a given case we know what influences to apply in order to modify these dominating factors, we can modify the situation accordingly, and ideally we can provoke in the individual a behavior in conformity with any given scheme of attitudes and values.

To be sure, it may happen that, in spite of an adequate scientific knowledge of the social laws permitting the

( 71) modification of those factors which we want to change, our efforts will fail to influence the situation or will produce a situation more undesirable than the one we wished to avoid. The fault is then with our technical knowledge. That is, either we have failed in determining the relative importance of the various factors, or we have failed to foresee the influence of other causes which, interfering with our activity, produce a quite unexpected and undesired effect. And since it is impossible to expect from every practitioner a complete scientific training and still more impossible to have him work out a scientifically justified and detailed plan of action for every concrete case in particular, the special task of the social technician is to prepare, with the help of both science and practical observation, thorough schemes and plans of action for all the various types of situations which may be found in a given line of social activity, and leave to the practitioner the subordination of the given concrete situation to its proper type. This is actually the role which all the organizers of social institutions have played, but the technique itself must become more conscious and methodically perfect, and every field of social activity should have its professional technicians. The evolution of social life makes necessary continual modifications and developments of social technique, and we can hope that the evolution of social theory will continually put new and useful scientific generalizations within the reach of the social technician; the latter must therefore remain in permanent touch with both social life and social theory, and this requires a more far-going specialization than we actually find.

But, however efficient this type of social technique may become, its application will always have certain limits beyond which a different type of technique will be more useful. Indeed, the form of social control outlined above presupposes that the individual—or the group—is treated

(72) as a passive object of our activity and that we change the situations for him, from case to case, in accordance with our plans and intentions. But the application of this method becomes more and more difficult as the situations grow more complex, more new and unexpected from case to case, and more influenced by the individual's own reflection. And, indeed, from both the moral and the hedonistic standpoints and also from the standpoint of the level of efficiency of the individual and of the group, it is desirable to develop in the individuals the ability to control spontaneously their own activities by conscious reflection. To use a biological comparison, the type of control where the practitioner prescribes for the individual a scheme of activity appropriate to every crisis as it arises corresponds to the tropic or reflex type of control in animal life, where the activity of the individual is controlled mechanically by stimulations from without, while the reflective and individualistic control corresponds to the type of activity characteristic of the higher conscious organism, where the control is exercised from within by the selective mechanism of the nervous system. While, in the early tribal, communal, kinship, and religious groups, and to a large extent in the historic state, the society itself provided a rigoristic and particularistic set of definitions in the form of "customs" or "mores," the tendency to advance is associated with the liberty of the individual to make his own definitions.

We have assumed throughout this argument that if an adequate technique is developed it is possible to produce any desirable attitudes and values, but this assumption is practically justified only if we find in the individual attitudes which cannot avoid response to the class of stimulations which society is able to apply to him. And apparently we do find this disposition. Every individual has a vast variety of wishes which can be satisfied only by his incorpora-

( 73) -tion in a society. Among his general patterns of wishes we may enumerate: (1) the desire for new experience, for fresh stimulations; (2) the desire for recognition, including, for example, sexual response and general social appreciation, and secured by devices ranging from the display of ornament to the demonstration of worth through scientific attainment; (3) the desire for mastery, or the "will to power," exemplified by ownership, domestic tyranny, political despotism, based on the instinct of hate, but capable of being sublimated to laudable ambition; (4) the desire for security, based on the instinct of fear and exemplified negatively by the wretchedness of the individual in perpetual solitude or under social taboo. Society is, indeed, an agent for the repression of many of the wishes in the individual; it demands that he shall be moral by repressing at least the wishes which are irreconcilable with the welfare of the group, but nevertheless it provides the only medium within which any of his schemes or wishes can be gratified. And it would be superfluous to point out by examples the degree to which society has in the past been able to impose its schemes of attitudes and values on the individual. Professor Sumner's volume, Folkways, is practically a collection of such examples, and, far from discouraging us as they discourage Professor Sumner, they should be regarded as proofs of the ability of the individual to conform to any definition, to accept any attitude, provided it is an expression of the public will or represents the appreciation of even a limited group. To take a single example from the present, to be a bastard or the mother of a bastard has been regarded heretofore as anything but desirable, but we have at this moment reports that one of the warring European nations is officially impregnating its unmarried women and girls and even married women whose husbands are at the front. If this is true (which we do

( 74) not assume) we have a new definition and a new evaluation of motherhood arising from the struggle of this society against death, and we may anticipate a new attitude—that the resulting children and their mothers will be the objects of extraordinary social appreciation. And even if we find that the attitudes are not so tractable as we have assumed, that it is not possible to provoke all the desirable ones, we shall still be in the same situation as, let us say, physics and mechanics: we shall have the problem of securing the highest degree of control possible in view of the nature of our materials.

As to the present work, it evidently cannot in any sense pretend to establish social theory on a definitely scientific basis. It is clear from the preceding discussion that many workers and much time will be needed before we free ourselves from the traditional ways of thinking, develop a completely efficient and exact working method, and reach a system of scientifically correct generalizations. Our present very limited task is the preparation of a certain body of materials, even if we occasionally go beyond it and attempt to reach some generalizations.

Our object-matter is one class of a modern society in the whole concrete complexity of its life. The selection of the Polish peasant society, motivated at first by somewhat incidental reasons, such as the intensity of the Polish immigration and the facility of getting materials concerning the Polish peasant, has proved during the investigation to be a fortunate one. The Polish peasant finds himself now in a period of transition from the old forms of social organization that had been in force, with only insignificant changes, for many centuries, to a modern form of life. He has preserved enough of the old attitudes to make their sociological reconstruction possible, and he is sufficiently

( 75) advanced upon the new way to make a study of the development of modern attitudes particularly fruitful. He has been invited by the upper classes to collaborate in the construction of Polish national life, and in certain lines his development is due to the conscious educational efforts of his leaders—the nobility, the clergy, the middle class. In this respect he has the value of an experiment in social technique; the successes, as well as the failures, of this educational activity of the upper classes are very significant for social work. These efforts of the upper classes themselves have a particular sociological importance in view of the conditions in which Polish society has lived during the last century. As a society without a state, divided among three states and constantly hampered in all its efforts to preserve and develop a distinct and unique cultural life, it faced a dilemma—either to disappear or to create such substitutes for a state organization as would enable it to resist the destructive action of the oppressing states; or, more generally, to exist without the framework of a state. These substitutes were created, and they are interesting in two respects. First, they show, in an exceptionally intensified and to a large extent isolated form, the action of certain factors of social unity which exist in every society but in normal conditions are subordinated to the state organization and seldom sufficiently accounted for in sociological reflection. Secondly, the lack of permanence of every social institution and the insecurity of every social value in general, resulting from the destructive tendencies of the dominating foreign states, bring with them a necessity of developing and keeping constantly alive all the activities needed to reconstruct again and again every value that had been destroyed. The whole mechanism of social creation is therefore here particularly transparent and easy to understand, and in general the role of human attitudes in social

(76) life becomes much more evident than in a society not living under the same strain, but able to rely to a large extent upon the inherited formal organization for the preservation of its culture and unity.

We use in this work the inductive method in a form which gives the least possible place for any arbitrary statements. The basis of the work is concrete materials, and only in the selection of these materials some necessary discrimination has been used. But even here we have tried to proceed in the most cautious way possible. The private letters constituting the first two volumes have needed relatively little selection, particularly as they are arranged in family series. Our task has been limited to the exclusion of such letters from among the whole collection as contained nothing but a repetition of situations and attitudes more completely represented in the materials which we publish here. In later volumes the selection can be more severe, as far as the conclusions of the preceding volumes can be used for guidance.

The analysis of the attitudes and characters given in notes to particular letters and in introductions to particular series contains nothing not essentially contained, in the materials themselves; its task is only to isolate single attitudes, to show their analogies and dependences, and to interpret them in relation to the social background upon which they appear. Our acquaintance with the Polish society simply helps us in noting data and relations which would perhaps not be noticed so easily by one not immediately acquainted with the life of the group.

Finally, the synthesis constituting the introductions to particular volumes is also based upon the materials, with a few exceptions where it was thought necessary to draw some data from Polish ethnological publications or systematic studies. The sources are always quoted.

( 77)

The general character of the work is mainly that of a systematization and classification of attitudes and values prevailing in a concrete group. Every attitude and every value, as we have said above, can be really understood only in connection with the whole social life of which it is an element, and therefore this method is the only one that gives us a full and systematic acquaintance with all the complexity of social life. But it is evident that this monograph must be followed by many others if we want our acquaintance with social reality to be complete. Other Slavic groups, particularly the Russians; the French and the Germans, as representing different types of more efficient societies; the Americans, as the most conspicuous experiment in individualism; the Jews, as representing particular social adaptations under peculiar social pressures; the Oriental, with his widely divergent attitudes and values; the Negro, with his lower cultural level and unique social position—these and other social groups should be included in a series of monographs, which in its totality will give for the first time a wide and secure basis for any sociological generalizations whatever. Naturally the value of every monograph will increase with the development of the work, for not only will the method continually improve, but every social group will help to understand every other.

In selecting the monographic method for the present work and in urging the desirability of the further preparation of large bodies of materials representing the total life of different social groups, we do not ignore the other method of approaching a scientific social theory and practice—the study of special problems, of isolated aspects of social life. And we are not obliged even to wait until all the societies have been studied monographically, in their whole concrete reality, before beginning the comparative study of particular problems. Indeed, the study of a single society, as we have

(78) undertaken it here, is often enough to show what role is played by a particular class of phenomena in the total life of a group and to give us in this way sufficient indications for the isolation of this class from its social context without omitting any important interaction that may exist between phenomena of this class and others, and we can then use these indications in taking the corresponding kinds of phenomena in other societies as objects of comparative research.

By way of examples, we point out here certain problems suggested to us by the study of the Polish peasants for which this study affords a good starting-point:[5]

I. The problem of individualization.—How far is individualization compatible with social cohesion? What are the forms of individualization that can be considered socially useful or socially harmful? What are the forms of social organization that allow for the greatest amount of individualism ?

We have been led to the suppositions that, generally speaking, individualization is the intermediary stage between one form of social organization and another; that its social usefulness depends on its more or less constructive character —that is, upon the question whether it does really lead to a new organization and whether the latter makes the social group more capable of resisting disintegrating influences; and that, finally, an organization based upon a conscious co-operation in view of a common aim is the most compatible with individualism. The verification of these suppositions and their application to concrete problems of such a society as the American would constitute a grateful work.

2. The problem of efficiency. — Relation between individual and social efficiency. Dependence of efficiency upon various

(79) individual attitudes and upon various forms of social organization.

The Polish society shows in most lines of activity a particularly large range of variation of individual efficiency with a relatively low scale of social efficiency. We have come to the conclusion that both phenomena are due to the lack of a sufficiently persistent and detailed frame of social organization, resulting from the loss of state-independence. Under these conditions individual efficiency depends upon individual attitudes much more than upon social conditions. An individual may be very efficient because there is little to hinder his activity in any line he selects, but he may also be very inefficient because there is little to push him or to help him. The total social result of individual activities under these conditions is relatively small, because social efficiency depends, not only on the average efficiency of the individuals that constitute the group, but also on the more or less perfect organization of individual efforts. Here, again, the application of these conclusions to other societies can open the way to important discoveries in this particular sphere by showing what is the way of conciliating the highest individual with the highest social efficiency.

3. The problem of abnormality—crime, vagabondage, prostitution, alcoholism, etc.—How far is abnormality the unavoidable manifestation of inborn tendencies of the individual, and how far is it due to social conditions ?

The priests in Poland have a theory with regard to their peasant parishioners that there are no incorrigible individuals, provided that the influence exercised upon them is skilful and steady and draws into play all of the social factors—familial solidarity, social opinion of the community, religion and magic, economic and intellectual motives, etc. And in his recent book on The Individual Delinquent, Dr. William Healy touches the problem on the

(80) same side in the following remark: "Frequently one wonders what might have been accomplished with this or that individual if he had received a more adequate discipline during his childhood." By our investigation of abnormal attitudes in connection with normal attitudes instead of treating them isolately, and by the recognition that the individual can be fully understood and controlled only if all the influences of his environment are properly taken into account, we could hardly avoid the suggestion that abnormality is mainly, if not exclusively, a matter of deficient social organization. There is hardly any human attitude which, if properly controlled and directed, could not be used in a socially productive way. Of course there must always remain a quantitative difference of efficiency between individuals, often a very far-going one, but we can see no reason for a permanent qualitative difference between socially normal and antisocial actions. And from this standpoint the question of the antisocial individual assumes no longer the form of the right of society to protection, but that of the right of the antisocial individual to be made useful.

4. The occupational problem. — The modern division and organization of labor brings an enormous and continually growing quantitative prevalence of occupations which are almost completely devoid of stimulation and therefore present little interest for the workman. This fact necessarily affects human happiness profoundly, and, if only for this reason, the restoration of stimulation to labor is among the most important problems confronting society. The present industrial organization tends also to develop a type of human being as abnormal in its way as the opposite type of individual who gets the full amount of occupational stimulation by taking a line of interest destructive of social order—the criminal or vagabond. If the latter type of

(81) abnormality is immediately dangerous for the present state of society, the former is more menacing for the future, as leading to a gradual but certain degeneration of the human type—whether we regard this degeneration as congenital or acquired.

The analysis of this problem discloses very profound and general causes of the evil, but also the way of an eventual remedy. It is a fact too well known to be emphasized that modern organization of labor is based on an almost absolute prevalence of economic interests—more exactly, on the tendency to produce or acquire the highest possible amount of economic values—either because these interests are actually so universal and predominant or because they express themselves in social organization more easily than others—a point to be investigated. The moralist complains of the materialization of men and expects a change of the social organization to be brought about by moral or religious preaching; the economic determinist considers the whole social organization as conditioned fundamentally and necessarily by economic factors and expects an improvement exclusively from a possible historically necessary modification of the economic organization itself. From the sociological viewpoint the problem looks much more serious and objective than the moralist conceives it, but much less limited and determined than it appears to the economic determinist. The economic interests are only one class of human attitudes among others, and every attitude can be modified by an adequate social technique. The interest in the nature of work is frequently as strong as, or stronger than, the interest in the economic results of the work, and often finds an objective expression in spite of the fact that actual social organization has little place for it. The protests, in fact, represented by William Morris mean that it certain class of work has visibly passed from the stage

(82) where it was stimulating to a stage where it is not—that the handicrafts formerly expressed an interest in the work itself rather than in the economic returns from the work. Since every attitude tends to influence social institutions, we may expect that, with the help of social technique, an organization and a division of labor based on occupational interests may gradually replace the present organization based on demands of economic productivity. In other words, with the appropriate change of attitudes and values all work may become artistic work.

5. The relation of the sexes.—Among the many problems falling under this head two seem to us of fundamental importance, the first mainly socio-psychological, the second mainly sociological: (1) In the relation between the sexes how can a maximum of reciprocal response be obtained with the minimum of interference with personal interests ? (2) How is the general social efficiency of a group affected by the various systems of relations between man and woman ?

We do not advance at this point any definite theories. A number of interesting concrete points will appear in the later volumes of our materials. But a few suggestions of a general character arise in connection with the study of a concrete society. In matters of reciprocal response we find among the Polish peasants the sexes equally dependent on each other, though their demands are of a rather limited and unromantic character, while at the same time this response is secured at the cost of a complete subordination of their personalities to a common sphere of group-interests. When the development of personal interests begins, this original harmony is disturbed, and the disharmony is particularly marked among the immigrants in America, where it often leads to a complete and radical disorganization of family life. There does not seem to be as yet any real solution in view. In this respect the situation of the Polish peasants may throw

( 83) an interesting light upon the general situation of the cultivated classes of modern society. The difference between l these two situations lies in the fact that among the peasants both man and woman begin almost simultaneously to develop personal claims, whereas in the cultivated classes the personal claims of the man have been developed and in a large measure satisfied long ago, and the present problem is almost exclusively limited to the woman. The situations are analogous, however, in so far as the difficulty of solution is concerned.

With regard to social efficiency, our Polish materials tend to show that, under conditions in which the activities of the woman can attain an objective importance more or less equal to those of the man, the greatest social efficiency is attained by a systematic collaboration of man and woman in external fields rather than by a division of tasks which limits the woman to "home and children." The line along which the peasant class of Polish society is particularly efficient is economic development and co-operation; and precisely in this line the collaboration of women has been particularly wide and successful. As far as a division of labor based upon differences of the sexes is concerned, there seems to be at least one point at which a certain differentiation of tasks would be at present in accordance with the demands of social efficiency. The woman shows a particular aptitude of mediation between the formalism, uniformity, and permanence of social organization and the concrete, various, and changing individualities. And, whether this ability of the woman is congenital or produced by cultural conditions, it could certainly be made socially very useful, for it is precisely the ability required to diminish the innumerable and continually growing frictions resulting from the misadaptations of individual attitudes to social organization, and to avoid the incalculable waste of human

( 84) energy which contrasts so deplorably in our modern society with our increasingly efficient use of natural energies.

6. The problem of social happiness.—With regard to this problem we can hardly make any positive suggestions. It is certain that both the relation of the sexes and the economic situation are among the fundamental conditions of human happiness, in the sense of making it and of spoiling it. But the striking point is that, aside from abstract philosophical discussion and some popular psychological analysis, the problem of happiness has never been seriously studied since the epoch of Greek hedonism, and of course the conclusions reached by the Greeks, even if they were more scientific than they really are, could hardly be applied to the present time, with its completely changed social conditions. Has this problem been so much neglected because of its difficulty or because, under the influence of certain tendencies immanent in Christianity, happiness is still half-instinctively regarded as more or less sinful, and pain as meritorious ? However that may be, the fact is that no things of real significance have been said up to the present about happiness, particularly if we compare them with the enormous material that has been collected and the innumerable important ideas that have been expressed concerning unhappiness. Moreover, we believe that the problem merits a very particular consideration, both from the theoretical and from the practical point of view, and that the sociological method outlined above gives the most reliable way of studying it.

7. The problem of the fight of races (nationalities) and cultures.—Probably in this respect no study of any other society can give so interesting sociological indications as the study of the Poles. Surrounded by peoples of various degrees of cultural development—Germans, Austrians, Bohemians, Ruthenians, Russians, Lithuanians—having

( 85) on her own territory the highest percentage of the most unassimilable of races, the Jews, Poland is fighting at every moment for the preservation of her racial and cultural status. Moreover, the fight assumes the most various forms: self-defense against oppressive measures promulgated by Russia and Germany in the interest of their respective races and cultures; self-defense against the peaceful intrusion of the Austrian culture in Galicia; the problem of the assimilation of foreign colonists—German or Russian; the political fight against the Ruthenians in Eastern Galicia; peaceful propaganda and efforts to maintain the supremacy of Polish culture on the vast territory between the Baltic and the Black seas (populated mainly by Lithuanians, White Ruthenians, and Ukrainians), where the Poles constitute the cultivated minority of estate-owners and intellectual bourgeoisie; various methods of dealing with the Jews—passive toleration, efforts to assimilate them nationally (not religiously), social and economic boycott. All these ways of fighting develop the greatest possible variety of attitudes.

And the problem itself assumes a particular actual importance if we remember that the present war is a fight of races and cultures, which has assumed the form of war because races and cultures have expressed themselves in the modern state-organization. The fight of races and cultures is the predominant fact of modern historical life, and it must assume the form of war when it uses the present form of state-organization as its means. To stop wars one must either stop the fight of races and cultures by the introduction of new schemes of attitudes and values or substitute for the isolated national state as instrument of cultural expansion some other type of organization.

8. Closely connected with the foregoing is the problem of an ideal organization of culture. This is the widest and

( 86) oldest sociological problem, lying on the border between theory and practice. Is there one perfect form of organization that would unify the widest individualism and the strongest social cohesion, that would exclude any abnormality by making use of all human tendencies, that would harmonize the highest efficiency with the greatest happiness ? And, if one and only one such organization is possible, will it come automatically, as a result of the fight between cultures and as an expression of the law of the survival of the fittest, so that finally "the world's history will prove the world's tribunal" ? Or must such an organization be brought about by a conscious and rational social technique modifying the historical conditions and subordinating all the cultural differences to one perfect system ? Or is there, on the contrary, no such unique ideal possible ? Perhaps there are many forms of a perfect organization of society, and, the differentiation of national cultures being impossible to overcome, every nation should simply try to bring its own system to the greatest possible perfection, profiting by the experiences of others, but not imitating them. In this case the fight of races and cultures could be stopped, not by the destruction of historical differences, but by the recognition of their value for the world and by a growing reciprocal acquaintance and estimation. Whatever may be the ultimate solution of this problem, it is evident that the systematic sociological study of various cultures, as outlined in this note and exemplified in its beginnings in the main body of the work, is the only way to solve it.


  1. Of course a concrete practical task may include both problems, as when we attempt, by appealing to the existing attitudes, to establish educational institutions which will be so organized as to produce or generalize certain desirable attitudes.
  2. In connection, indeed, with the problems of both the creation and the destruction of social values, the most exceptional and divergent attitudes may prove the most important ones, because they may introduce a crisis and an element of disorder. And to the social theorist and technician the disorderly individual is of peculiar interest as a destroyer of values, as in the case of the anti-social individual, and as a creator of values, as in the case of the man of genius.
  3. It may be objected that we have neglected to criticize the conception according to which the cause of a social phenomenon is to be sought, not in an individual, but exclusively in another social phenomenon (Durkheim). But a criticism of this conception is implied in the previous discussion of the data of social theory. As these data are both values and attitudes, a fact must include both, and a succession of values alone cannot constitute a fact. Of course much depends also on what we call a "social" phenomenon. An attitude may be treated as a social phenomenon as opposed to the "state of consciousness" of individual psychology; but it is individual, even if common to all members of a group, when we oppose it to a value.
  4. It is the formal side of this assumption, not the sphere of its application, that is important. Whether we admit few or many exceptions, whether we say, "The witness often [or sometimes] tells the truth," has not the slightest bearing on the problem of method. There is a general statement and a limitation of this statement, and both statement and limitation are groundless—cannot be explained causally.
  5. Points 2 and 8 following are more directly connected with materials on the middle and upper classes of Polish society which do not appear in the present work.

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