Crime and the Community

Crime and the Community

Crime and the Community

Crime and the Community

Excerpt

You cannot deal with human situations unless you comprehend the humanity in the situations, and you cannot get to grips with social problems unless you realize the whole social background out of which they arise. No partial or one-sided expertness will suffice. Aside from certain purely technical issues there is no important aspect of human life that can be separated from the rest and studied exclusively by itself. That is why any narrow specialism in the social sciences is self-defeating. You cannot understand the religion of a group without knowing its economic conditions, and you cannot understand its economic conditions without knowing also its mores. You cannot understand how a country is really governed unless you know how its citizens live and think, nor can you understand its laws unless you know also its customs.

For a long time I have felt that most of the textbooks in the various social sciences were not sufficiently grounded in a recognition of this essential interdependence, that they tended overmuch to detach the aspect with which they respectively dealt, whether economic, political, legal, educational, or social-psychological, from the totality that gave it birth and meaning. Particularly it seemed to me that the whole question of the derivation or the causation of social phenomena was unapproachable apart from this recognition. Yet unless it can deal with the causal relations between events and conditions a science is limited to mere description or schematic classification. How little we learn about government if we confine ourselves merely to an account of its institutional mechanisms! How little we get from history if it is no more for us than a record of the succession of events!

The time seemed to have come when a series of textbooks should be definitely planned from a larger and more revealing approach. Modern realistic researches in economics, law, politics, sociology, were showing ever more fully the intimate interactions of the phenomena accredited to these different subjects. From the various organizations of the social sciences came proclamations of the need for co-operative and non-departmentalized studies. To many it appeared that the training of students was too narrowly confined by departmental frontiers. In view of these conditions the writer undertook to edit a new series under the sponsorship of Ginn and Company. Just as he was about . . .

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