Labor Problems: A Book of Materials for Their Study

Labor Problems: A Book of Materials for Their Study

Labor Problems: A Book of Materials for Their Study

Labor Problems: A Book of Materials for Their Study

Excerpt

Professor Furniss's book really needs no introduction. It carries its own credentials. Teachers of economics will be quick to appreciate the judgment and skill with which it has been put together.

Books of selected readings have come to be important adjuncts of the teaching of the social sciences. They have one outstanding advantage: they convey a just impression of the diversity of opinions, the opposition of interests, the range of concrete problems, which characterize this field of study and inquiry. Furthermore, with classes as large as they have come to be in many American colleges, it is difficult, often impossible, to give every individual student convenient access to all of the separate books which he ought to consult. The book of readings is a practicable and convenient partial substitute.

Economic problems, however, have their unity as well as their diversity. There is no mastery of them except as they can be seen in their relations and brought together into a consistent and manageable body of knowledge. A defect of some books of readings has been that they have emphasized diversity at the expense of unity. A collection of short excerpts, each torn from its own context, provides neither an alluring nor a profitable introduction to economic studies. A scrapbook is not a book.

The present volume is not a scrapbook. True, Professor Furniss has brought together a generous measure of excerpts, judiciously selected and skillfully arranged. But these, one might say, are no more than the building materials which have gone into a structure of which he is the architect. The sections that his own pen has furnished are not merely supplementary material, designed to fill up gaps. They bind the other materials together, so that the whole book has continuity and unity.

The unity thus achieved, the reader will find, is in no way artificial. The book begins by describing and defining a problem. Its successive chapters are concerned with the unfolding of the various aspects of that problem. Nowhere do the advantages of this method of approach appear more clearly than in the study of the particular problem, or related group of problems, with which Professor Furniss deals. Some economic problems, one may surmise, could be brought to a solution if all the pertinent facts were available and if correct reasoning could be assured. Not so with . . .

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