Freedom and Control in Modern Society

By Morroe Berger; Theodore Abel | Go to book overview

5
SOCIAL GROUPS IN THE MODERN WORLD

FLORIAN ZNANIECKI

Since the first decade of this century, the study of human groups has been increasingly considered one of the most important tasks of sociology. In 1932, Eubank, after a thorough comparative survey of the various conceptual frameworks used by sociologists, came to the conclusion that the concept of group would become the main foundation of systematic sociology.

Inasmuch as sociology is now recognized as a generalizing science, we should expect a steady progress of scientific generalizations about human groups, based on comparative research. But, because of the vast diversity of those complexes to which the term "group" has been applied, their logically consistent classification, or "taxonomy," is a necessary foundation on which all other generalizations about them depend, just as the taxonomy of living organisms formed a basis for causal, functional, ontogenetic, and phylogenetic generalizations.

Yet, in 1945, Logan Wilson summarized the results of his survey of various theories of human groups as follows:

the lack of an adequate classificatory scheme precludes the full view of group interaction. . . . Most of the makeshift empirical schemes of classification and analyis have logical inconsistencies, but the logically consistent schemes tend to have the shortcoming of limited applicability.1

In 1951, Robert J. Dubois (at Wayne University) wrote a Master's thesis in which he compared the classification of groups included in American textbooks of sociology from 1932 to 1949, under the

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1
"Sociography of Groups," in Twentieth Century Sociology, eds. George Gurvitch and Wilbert E. Moore ( New York: The Philosophical Library, 1945).

-125-

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