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In attempting to give an outline of Professor Giddings' sociological theories one is beset by the difficulty of finding them in any complete and final form. His writings are scattered over a period of more than twenty years. Each is to a certain extent complementary to the other, so that a study of them in chronological order gives a realistic impression of the open mind and analytic power of the author without affording anything that even he would claim to be a completed system of sociological theory. The absence of revision and co-ordination also bewilders the student as to what part, if any, Professor Giddings still accepts or has rejected, and what he would modify. Personal contact with him in the lectureroom does not help one greatly. He is no German philosopher grinding out year after year the same completed circle of systematic theory. His custom of applying his analytical mind to any pressing question of immediate import, whether suggested by the publication of a new book, the exposition of a new theory, or the application of some political policy, and of injecting the results of his analysis as new wine into old bottles, shatters the outline and symmetry of any tentative system. In short, Professor Giddings'
theories are the vital products of a growing mind and, even if the time has almost arrived for their systematization, are not yet systematized.
Yet with this difficulty present to a degree open to common recognition, it is still possible to make some attempt to put his theories in systematic order. The fundamental bases of the theories are fully and clearly stated right throughout all his works. He accepts the superorganic view of society as a set of interacting organisms, but discards the mechanical view of Spencer and approaches society from the psychological and genetic aspect rather than the functional. Society is a process of collective behavior, the interactivity of individual minds. Its development is to be explained by the general laws of cosmic evolution. It has been built up by a process in which the successive steps have been those of integration, differentiation, segregation, and an increase of definiteness and of coherence. Though Giddings has added "certain quantitative laws of evolution which Spencer seems not to have apprehended," there is nothing distinctively new in the two foundation stones of his theory, namely, cosmic evolution and the superorganic concept of society. His own distinctive contribution comes when he finds the elementary form of social relation to be a consciousness of kind. Society to him, then, is a group of interacting individuals whose collective behavior, dominated and stimulated by the consciousness of kind, follows the laws of cosmic evolution.
To Professor Giddings there are four general problems for the sociologist to study. They are: (1) the problem of the origin and evolution of society; (2) the problem of social constraint and of the conformation of behavior and character to type as the immediate and general function of society; (3) the problem of the effect of social constraint upon selection; (4) the problem of the final consequences of social constraint conceived of as an amount or rate of progress. The greater bulk of his own work has been done upon the first problem, though he has given many significant side lights in his written works upon all the others.
1 Cf. The Elements of Sociology, pp. 336-39.
Cf. Descriptive and Historical Sociology, pp. 100-103.
In keeping with his evolutionary standpoint is his accounting for the process of association in terms of the struggle for existence. He takes the material environment of which biology and economics makes such fruitful use, and resolves its pressure into "an infinitely differentiated group of stimuli." The struggle for existence tends to create groupings of similars. The multiplication of offspring creates the grouping of beings biologically similar. Organisms structurally alike are, in general, functionally alike and have like physical needs, which are satisfied in certain spots. A given habitat is likely to have a number of these groups. Further, certain individuals can endure the dangers of a certain habitat; hence the structural resemblance of individuals grouped in that habitat are greater in number. Their similarity is measured by the sum of their points of resemblance.
The most important similarities in life-organisms are similarities of behavior. The primary activity of the living organism is to adapt the environment to itself, to satisfy thereby its primary needs of safety and of food. These adaptations are the basis of appreciation; that is, a change in consciousness describable as the attaching of more interest or value to one thing than to another. Appreciation arises out of those reactions which are first instinctive phenomena, then become habitual, and later on are rationalized. When at length man finds the limits which restrict the adaptation of the environment to himself, he begins the reverse process of the adjustment of himself to the environment. His interest is attached to the behavior of his fellows, who are tending to like behavior at the same time. His reactions and those of his fellows tend to be alike, and there arises a perception of the likeness of external stimuli to selfstimuli. This is co-ordinated with the adjustment of one organism to the like behavior of similar organisms, a process furthered by imitation and reflective sympathy. Out of this collective behavior arises a consciousness of kind, compounded of "organic sympathy, the perception of resemblance, conscious or reflective sympathy, affection, and the desire for recognition." Thus similarities of behavior become important because they lead to the recognition of kind. There is a distinct stimulus in "kind" and a direct
Cf. Sociology (Columbia University Press, 1911), p. 32.
reaction to "kind." Upon this, natural selection works; and competition and the struggle for survival leading to like adaptation of similars, there is produced that collective behavior with which social organization begins.
Among the most elementary similarities of behavior are habits of toleration. Individuals living in a group necessarily come to tolerate one another. Conflict is natural in a group since the imitation involved in the consciousness of kind is never perfect, and because of the presence of instincts of conquest and original differences of nature and habit. “Antagonism, however, is self-limiting; it necessarily terminates in the equilibrium of toleration." Individual members of the group prove to be too evenly matched to make fighting worth while. Thus primal natural rights, in the sense of the immunities and liberties of toleration, come to be enjoyed long before they get conscious recognition. Soon, under the pressure of a common danger or a common opportunity, these similarities of behavior develop unconsciously into spontaneous collective action. This effect is produced under the stimulus of communication, imitation, suggestion, and, later, of leadership and subordination. The group which acts collectively represents an assembling and economizing of effort. The assembled effort of the group becomes co-operation, that is, conscious practical agreement for the better realization of common purposes.
The organizing force or influence whereby this type of social organization is set going is to be found in an analysis of the degrees of reaction. Some individuals react more promptly, some more energetically, some more persistently. The first type of reaction is mainly one of sensation and emotion, which practically all share. Some, fewer in number, will proceed to a reaction of thought and ideas, while the remainder, forming the minority, will go on to do something about the situation. This action creates a new situation, requiring adjustment. The protocracy or beginners of rule seek the co-operation of the group which has given them power and authority. The reaction must now be to the new action and the new group of actors. The protocracy is in a position to see the opportunities of wealth and power before others and to disPrinciples of Sociology, p. 114.
pense patronage on a definite understanding of loyalty and allegiance. Here enters in the factor so prominent in early social organization and later feudalism, the custom of commendatio. One man or a small group extends opportunity; the individual accepts it and becomes his lord's man. Thus, "in terms of like or of unlike, of prompt or of slow, of persistent or of intermittent response, all the phenomena of natural grouping and of collective behavior can be stated and interpreted."
Social organization having been begun, the next step is to explain the factors which affect the extent of concerted volition. This Professor Giddings does in the proposition: "The concerted volition of a constant number of individuals varies in extent as the struggle for existence varies in severity," and in a related proposition: "Social solidarity varies with the advantageousness of the collective struggle." Every social situation is described as a function of these two variables, the severity of the collective struggle and the extent of the social solidarity. With increasing necessity for collective action social organization tends to develop internal complexity and to assume a hierarchical form. Psychologically considered, these ranks are those characterized by instinctive, sympathetic, dogmatic, and deliberate like-mindedness, respectively. From another standpoint they are the divisions which the collective struggle and the reactions of the majority and minority upon one another have created. Through conquest, the assertion of privilege and authority, and the use of the commendatio there are produced within the social organization groups that may be privileged and closed, or selectively open, or discriminately open. 'Eligibility to membership in a privileged and closed group is governed by considerations of source. Descent from members of the group in a former generation is one of the oldest and best-known requirements. Another requirement is membership in an antecedent group or category. Eligibility to membership in a selectively open group is determined by the functioning value of members individually for the functioning of the group collectively. In the indiscriminately open group there are no eligibility tests." "In the historical evolution of social organization, intra-group conflict develops between 1 Sociology, p. 32. 'Quoted from unpublished lectures.