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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer 1967)

We all stand in the shadow of sudden and quite unexpected death. It is difficult, in these circumstances, to gain that calmness of soul and clarity of thought required to talk about Albert Salomon, the man, his life, and his thought.

The assertion is frequently made that Max Weber held the Protestant ethic to be the cause of the development of modern capitalism, even though such a contention is clearly untenable in his view of his own stated intentions. Weber maintained that in analyzing the development of rational economic behavior, any attempt at explanation “must recognize the fundamental importance of the economic factor, above all take account of the economic conditions. But at the same time the opposite correlation must not be left out of consideration…”

Before Auguste Comte appeared on the scene and gave to the science of sociology its proper name and its proper independence, the mainstream of sociological theory flowed in the channels dug by the Political Economists. Adam Smith in particular was a great sociologist by almost any standard we can apply. But Smith was important not only in his own day; he is important even in ours. His basic doctrine is reviewed in the 20th century and reviewed in two new versions, one by William Graham Sumner and the other by Max Weber. It is with the later that this paper will be concerned.

Pareto’s monumental sociological opus, largely through the good offices of Talcott Parsons, has come to be acknowledged as a classic in the field. Apart from the incorporation of some Paretian themes within Parsons own theoretical system, this canonization of the opus mainly expresses the fact that nobody really knows what to do with it. This is regrettable, since Pareto’s Trattato (known to American sociologists as Mind and Society) can be useful for a number of problems of sociological analysis, particularly in political sociology.

This paper is concerned with recent trends in basic theoretical orientations among American sociologists. In particular, it deals with the likelihood of a “central tendency” toward the methodological-theoretical unification of the discipline and with it, the “convergence” of modern sociological theories.

Despite the flood of empirical studies presuming to explain American public life, we seem to be unable to come to terms with it. The highly abstract character of research in political science, sociology, and social psychology is scarcely suitable for establishing contact with our raw experience. A good deal of our political behavior remains incomprehensible. If we are so mature as a nation, why are we so retarded? If we are so rich, why are we so poor? If we are so free, why are we so compliant? If we are so resourceful, why are we so clumsy? Because we lack the distinctions that might tellingly resolve these paradoxes, there would seem to be good reason to trying to confront our political experience anew so as to perceive a new order of relevant facts -especially those which are not, as the cliche insists, bare, cold, hard, and stubborn.

This article has been suggested by the book of Henry W. Briefs bearing the same title and published in 1960 (Georgetown University Press); Briefs work was not known to the present writer when he wrote an “Essay in the Sociology of Knowledge,” whose second part has methodological content. Briefs’ work is a considerable achievement; the author studied with great care the methodological statements of economics. Although in agreement with many of Briefs’ propositions, we have to differ basically from his conclusions because of a difference in approach: In the author’s opinion, clarity about the methods actually used cannot be obtained by examining the scientist’s methodological statements, but only by studying the methods actually applied in the bulk of his writings and fruitfulness of the methods.

Economists concerned with development, though acknowledging the significance of political, social, psychological and cultural factors in the complicated process of economic growth, rarely distinguish between these non-economic factors which are crucial to the development and those which may merely be associated with it. In the article, the author examines a single non-economic factor, social mobility, which, though it has sometimes been mentioned as important to economic growth, has in my opinion not yet been given due regard.

The importance of directly regulated, privately owned enterprises in the United States economy is indicated by the fact that, in 1960, about 17 percent of the total assets of non-financial corporations were held by privately owned public utilities. Obviously, this extensive regulation of private enterprises as public utilities entails the use of a large amount of scarce resources, which alone would seem to justify a concern about the desirability of such regulation.

Don Luigi Sturzo’s social doctrine did not die with its originator. Today, more than ever, scholars are studying its structure and significance. In Italian universities many students are encouraged to write theses about Sturzo’s political activity, as it led to the foundation of the Partito Popolare, and about his political and sociological ideas.

The social thought of Catholics is always differentiated, certainly so in Austria, with which the present paper is concerned. Within the limits set by Catholic faith there exists a great variety of perspectives of social reality, including some that are sharply divergent, yet all of which can claim to be legitimately Catholic.

Paris: Presses Universitaires de Frace, 1965. 588 pp. frs. 30. Duvignaud, Jean, L'Acteur: Esquisse d'une Sociologie du Comedien. Paris: Gallimard, 1965. 304 pp.

Review of book by Jean Cazeneuve. Philosophes, P.U.F., 1965. 134 pp.

Review of book by C. Wright Mills New York: Oxford University Press, 1966. 475 pp. $2.95

Review of book by L. Mosse and M. George. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1964. 360 pp.

Review of book by Marshall R. Singer. Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.I.T. Press, 1964. 203 pp.

Review of book by Wendell Bell. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1964. 229 pp.

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