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Pitirim Sorokin

Pitirim Sorokin

Overview
Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin was a Russian-American sociologist born in Komi
Komi Republic
The Komi Republic is a federal subject of Russia .-Geography:The republic is situated to the west of the Ural mountains, in the north-east of the East European Plain...

 (Finno-Ugric region of Russia). Academic and political activist in Russia, he emigrated from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1923. He founded the Department of Sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. He was a vocal opponent of Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

' theories. Sorokin was an ardent opponent of communism, which he regarded as a "pest of man." He is best known for his contributions to the social cycle theory
Social cycle theory
Social cycle theories are among the earliest social theories in sociology. Unlike the theory of social evolutionism, which views the evolution of society and human history as progressing in some new, unique direction, sociological cycle theory argues that events and stages of society and history...

.

Supporting himself as artisan and clerk, he was able to study at the University of St.
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Encyclopedia
Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin was a Russian-American sociologist born in Komi
Komi Republic
The Komi Republic is a federal subject of Russia .-Geography:The republic is situated to the west of the Ural mountains, in the north-east of the East European Plain...

 (Finno-Ugric region of Russia). Academic and political activist in Russia, he emigrated from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1923. He founded the Department of Sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. He was a vocal opponent of Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

' theories. Sorokin was an ardent opponent of communism, which he regarded as a "pest of man." He is best known for his contributions to the social cycle theory
Social cycle theory
Social cycle theories are among the earliest social theories in sociology. Unlike the theory of social evolutionism, which views the evolution of society and human history as progressing in some new, unique direction, sociological cycle theory argues that events and stages of society and history...

.

Biography


Supporting himself as artisan and clerk, he was able to study at the University of St. Petersburg and to teach sociology and law. Sorokin joined the Socialist-Revolutionary Party
Socialist-Revolutionary Party
thumb|right|200px|Socialist-Revolutionary election poster, 1917. The caption in red reads "партия соц-рев" , short for Party of the Socialist Revolutionaries...

 and was imprisoned three times by the czarist regime of Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

; during the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 he was a member of Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

's Russian Provisional Government
Russian Provisional Government
The Russian Provisional Government was the short-lived administrative body which sought to govern Russia immediately following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II . On September 14, the State Duma of the Russian Empire was officially dissolved by the newly created Directorate, and the country was...

. After the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 he engaged in anti-Communist activities, for which he was condemned to death by the victorious Communist government; the sentence was commuted to exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

. He emigrated in 1923 to the United States and was naturalized
Naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 in 1930. Sorokin was professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...

 (1924–30) and at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 (1930–55), where he founded the Department of Sociology.

Works


Before his achievements as a professor in the United States he had his diary, Leaves of a Russian Diary, published in 1924 by E.P. Dutton & Co., giving his personal daily account and at times hourly account of the Russian Revolution which actually first started in February of 1917 where he was in the forefront of creating a provisionary government only to see it unravel and lose power to the Bolsheviks in October 1917. He published an addendum to the book in 1950 called The Thirty Years After published by The Beacon Press. It is a personal and brutishly honest account of the revolution and of his exile. His academic writings cover the breadth of sociology; his controversial theories of social process and of the historical typology of cultures are expounded in Social and Cultural Dynamics (4 vol., 1937–41; rev. and abridged ed. 1957) and many other works. He was also interested in social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

, the history of sociological theory, and altruistic behavior.

Sorokin is author of books such as The crisis of our age and Power and morality, but his magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

 is Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937–1941). His unorthodox theories contributed to the social cycle theory
Social cycle theory
Social cycle theories are among the earliest social theories in sociology. Unlike the theory of social evolutionism, which views the evolution of society and human history as progressing in some new, unique direction, sociological cycle theory argues that events and stages of society and history...

 and inspired (or alienated) many sociologists.

In his Social and Cultural Dynamics he classified societies according to their 'cultural mentality', which can be ideational (reality is spiritual), sensate (reality is material), or idealistic (a synthesis of the two). He suggested that major civilizations evolve through these three in turn: ideational, idealistic, sensate. Each of these phases of cultural development not only seeks to describe the nature of reality, but also stipulates the nature of human needs and goals to be satisfied, the extent to which they should be satisfied, and the methods of satisfaction. Sorokin has interpreted the contemporary Western civilisation
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 as a sensate civilisation dedicated to technological progress and prophesied its fall into decadence and the emergence of a new ideational or idealistic era.

In Fads and foibles, he criticizes Lewis Terman
Lewis Terman
Lewis Madison Terman was an American psychologist, noted as a pioneer in educational psychology in the early 20th century at the Stanford University School of Education. He is best known as the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test...

's Genetic Studies of Genius
Genetic Studies of Genius
The Genetic Studies of Genius, today known as the Terman Study of the Gifted, is a still-running longitudinal study begun in 1921 to examine the development and characteristics of gifted children into adulthood...

 research, showing that his selected group of children with high IQs did about as well as a random group of children selected from similar family backgrounds would have done.

Sorokin's papers are currently held by the University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan
The University of Saskatchewan is a Canadian public research university, founded in 1907, and located on the east side of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. An "Act to establish and incorporate a University for the Province of Saskatchewan" was passed by the...

 in Saskatoon
Saskatoon
Saskatoon is a city in central Saskatchewan, Canada, on the South Saskatchewan River. Residents of the city of Saskatoon are called Saskatonians. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Corman Park No. 344....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 where they are available for the public. In March 2009 the Sorokin Research Center was established at the facilities of Syktyvkar State University
Syktyvkar State University
Syktyvkar State University is the principal university in Syktyvkar, the capital of the Komi Republic in Russia. It was founded in 1972 and has over 3,500 full-time students and 250 faculty members....

 in the Republic of Komi for the purpose of research and publication of archive materials, mainly from the collection at the University of Saskatchewan. The first research project “Selected Correspondence of Pitirim Sorokin: Scientist from Komi on The Service of Humanity” (in Russian) has been drafted and will be in print in the Fall of 2009 in Russia.

Publications

(with introduction by Stephen G. Post
Stephen G. Post
Stephen G. Post PhD, is the best selling author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times , as listed on the nonfiction best seller list with the Wall Street Journal....

 in 2002 edition) (552 pages)
  • Fads and foibles in modern sociology and related sciences. Chicago, H. Regnery Co., 1956, OCoLC 609427839. Reprinted by Greenwood Publishing Group
    Greenwood Publishing Group
    Greenwood Publishing Group is an educational publisher and is part of ABC-CLIO. It publishes reference works under its Greenwood Press imprint, and scholarly, professional, and general interest books under Praeger Publishers...

    , 1976, ISBN 978-0-8371-8733-4.
  • (with Lunden, W. A.), Power and morality: who shall guard the guardians? Boston, MA: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1959
  • Teaming up: making the transition to a self-directed, team-based organization (1995). ISBN 978-0-0705-1646-5
  • The crisis of our age, Chatam, NY: Oneworld Publications, Ltd, 1992
  • "Society, Culture, and Personality: Their Structure and Dynamics, A System of General Sociology" , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York & London, 1947 (723 double columned pages plus an 11 triple coumned page Index and a 7 triple columned page Index of Names)

On Sorokin

  • Cuzzort, R. P. and King, E. W., Twentieth-Century social thought (5th ed.). New York, NY: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1995
  • Gambescia, C., Invito alla lettura di Sorokin. Rome, Italy: Edizioni Settimo Sigillo, 2002
  • Johnston, B.V (1995). Pitirim A. Sorokin an Intellectual Biography . Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

External links


See also

  • Komi Republic
    Komi Republic
    The Komi Republic is a federal subject of Russia .-Geography:The republic is situated to the west of the Ural mountains, in the north-east of the East European Plain...

  • Sorokin Research Center