Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY

Social Theory and the Individual . In his summary of Leonard T. Hobhouse's Social Theory Mr. Hugh Carter emphasizes the fact that "fundamental to social theory is a scheme of ends or values to the individual which are to fit him into his social group and the wider society." Thus, in addition to the good life of the individual, observed from the viewpoint of his own happiness and his own actions, as in the preceding chapter, the importance of the individual as a social unit can scarcely be overestimated in the whole plan of social study and social theory. One of the best statements of the emphasis which society should place upon the developed individual in the whole scheme of collective life was that given by Professor Giddings a good many years ago, in his reference to the function of society as being "to develop and safeguard the higher types of human personality." In recent years this emphasis has come to constitute a popular basis for the interpretation of social needs, for the statement of social goals, and for the explanation of certain tendencies. Thus Miss Follett refers to a "technique of human relations based on the preservation of the integrity of the individual." "What we care about," she says, "is the productive life and the first test of the productive power of collective life is its nourishment of the individual." Likewise the psychologists have provided valuable theories and conclusions to assist the social student and social worker in placing the proper emphasis on the relation of the individual to the whole social pattern. Allport, for example, insists that "only within the individual can we find the behaviour mechanisms and the consciousness which are fundamental in the interaction between individuals." And Watson points out that "the twentieth century promises to be an epoch in which man, after centuries of effort expended in the attempt to extend his limited knowledge of the universe, will take up the study of himself in a spirit of intelligent, active interest, striving earnestly, and in a measure successfully,

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