Monthly Review: Fifty Years Ago

Article excerpt

Though many books are published today by American social scientists, few convey any great understanding of our society as a whole. Studies of particular aspects and of limited situations we have aplenty. But for the most part we look in vain to the official keepers of the higher learning--our university faculties--for a clear sense of the living and changing unity underlying the diversity of social life.

This deficiency is due neither to lack of able personnel nor to lack of resources. Our university and foundation staffs are larger and better trained than ever before; our research techniques are more refined; our scientific societies and scholarly journals are flourishing. Yet with rare exceptions the results are collections of poorly integrated facts arrayed in complex terminologies that conceal at least as much as they reveal.

In this dynamic era of far-reaching change, sociology and economics still employ a primarily static approach to social life--for example, normal equilibrium analysis in orthodox economics, structural or institutional analysis in sociology. …