THE PRINCIPLE OF CUMULATION 1
I N social science we have been drawing heavily on the notions and theories of the much farther developed natural sciences, particularly physics. The notion of equilibrium, for instance, has been embedded in our reasoning for centuries. It is present in most research of the present day, even when it is not formally introduced. In most social research we have restricted our use of the equilibrium notion to that simple and static variant of it, the stableequilibrium. It is this equilibrium notion which is implicit in the sociological constructions of 'maladjustment' and 'adjustment' and all their several synonyms or near-synonyms, where equilibrium is thought of as having a virtual reality in determining the direction os change.2 We propose the use of otherequilibrium notions besides this simplest one. For dynamic analysis of the process of change in social relations, it is highly desirable that we disengage our minds from the stable equilibrium scheme of thinking. The other types of equilibrium notions are often better descriptions of social reality than the stable one.
If we succeed in placing a pencil upright on its end, it is also in equilibrium, but an unstable one, a 'labile status' of balancing forces, as we discover when we touch it. No 'adjustment', 'adaptation', or 'accommodation' toward the original position will follow the application of a push, but only an accelerated movement away from the original state of balance. A third type of equilibrium is present when a pencil is rolling on a plane____________________