St. Denis: A French-Canadian Parish

St. Denis: A French-Canadian Parish

St. Denis: A French-Canadian Parish

St. Denis: A French-Canadian Parish

Excerpt

For the comparative study of societies the peasant peoples occupy a strategic position. They form a sort of middle term in the equation of culture and civilization. On the one hand, they resemble the primitive peoples with whom the ethnologist is characteristically acquainted; and on the other, they belong to that modern urbanized world which lies in the foregound of attention of most American sociologists. To study the peasant peoples is to help to draw into a single field of investigation all the societies of the earth from the simplest to the most complex. This unity of subject matter must be realized if we are to develop the science of society and culture, whatever that science may be called. For their importance the peasant societies have been relatively neglected; careful field studies of such groups are to be welcomed.

The reader of Dr. Miner's excellent book will note the respects in which this French-Canadian peasant society resembles the primitive peoples. The habitants live in terms of common understandings which are rooted in tradition and which have come to form an organization. The fundamental views of life are shared by almost everyone; and these views find consistent expression in the beliefs, the institutions, the rituals, and the manners of the people. In a word, they have a culture. Furthermore, the sanctions which support conduct are strongly sacred: the faith which all share provides indorsement of certain behavior and condemnation for other behavior. The priest tells them this is right and that is wrong; but the point here is that the people feel the right and the wrong and act from such a feeling, not from mere expediency. And, also, this . . .

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