The Science of Social Relations: An Introduction to Sociology

The Science of Social Relations: An Introduction to Sociology

The Science of Social Relations: An Introduction to Sociology

The Science of Social Relations: An Introduction to Sociology

Excerpt

Sociologist have been puzzling over the problem of what should be included in a beginning course on social relations. Textbooks have exhibited tremendous divergencies. It has been practically impossible for a teacher giving advanced work in social science to have any assurance as to the ground covered by students who have taken elementary sociology under other instructors. If a group of representative able students were gathered from ten or more of our leading colleges and universities, it would be exceedingly difficult to draw up any one comprehensive examination which could be passed successfully by those who had taken sociology and which could not be passed by students who had never taken such courses.

The present text is built on the proposition that the basic course in sociology should include the material which will be of the greatest practical utility in solving problems hinging on social relations. The emphasis is frankly pragmatic. This approach is adopted not only in the belief that the test of applicability to real problems will lead toward increasing agreement as to the verified fundamentals of a usable social science, but also for pedagogical reasons. Sound teaching leads from the concrete to the abstract, from actual experience to broader generalization, from felt needs to intelligent attitudes, skills, and habits. The rapidity with which a student learns depends greatly upon the interest which he has in the subject as it is actually presented. Toward a course which yields illumination and guidance for actual life situations, students exhibit an alert attention and an enthusiastic application which cannot be roused by any statement of abstract principles or remote issues.

The pragmatic approach needs to be safeguarded against narrowness and shortsightedness. While the study of social relations should aim at working out successful ways of dealing with actual problems, the student and teacher need to be alert also for the discovery and the preservation of valid generalizations even when these have no immediate practical utility. In every science such findings have proved over and over again their vital value.

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