Review of Source Book for Social Origins by W.I. Thomas
James Hayden Tufts
The publication of this book should mark a long step forward in the study not only of social psychology as a college subject, but in the general movement which shows some signs of finding a new center of reference for the college course. Language and science have formed such centers hitherto, but the social and historical disciplines have been too unorganized or too abstract to fill the place which, on the face of things, the study of human life in its social relations ought to fill. In social psychology particularly the sources have been so multifarious as to present an almost trackless wilderness, into which the propounder of a theory, or the expounder of a specific topic plunged, to return indeed with material for his own purpose but without giving the student much confidence in the method, or in the unbiased character of the conclusions. The present book is admirably adapted to orient the beginner and to serve as the basis for class-room work in the subject.
There are three different kinds of matter in the book
I. Extracts or complete papers from various authorities, of which some describe customs, institutions, art, etc., of particular peoples, while others deal with general phases of culture or their psychological interpretation. These are grouped under seven heads. The Relation of Society to Geographic and Economic Environment; Mental Life and Education; Invention and Technology; Sex and Marriage; Art, Ornament, and Decoration; Magic, Religion, Myth; Social Organization, Morals, the State. Forty-six selections are included.
2. A general introduction to the material as a whole, and a brief 'Comment' on each part. In the introduction it is maintained that while no single concept such as ' imitation,' ' conflict,' or ' constraint' is adequate to interpret the social process, the concepts of ' control ' and 'attention' with the latter's attendant concepts of 'habit 'and 'crisis' are highly useful as tools of analysis. In the ' comments' attention is called to changes in scientific standpoint or other considerations to be kept in mind while estimating the various material presented.
3. Bibliographies. Something over a thousand titles, classified according to the main divisions of the work, are given, and there are in addition forty-three pages of supplementary bibliographies at the close. Important works are starred and a brief annotation is given to
( 418) the most important. For the student who is already somewhat oriented in the field these bibliographies will be the most useful feature.
J. H. T.