216 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING9. The sociologist must make a special effort to devise new and more precise ways of speaking about relatively familiar matters.10. The chief aim of sociology is to provide an array of relatively precise descriptive and explanatory categories for understand- ing the exceedingly diverse and complicated phenomena of so- cial behavior.11. The subject matter studied comprises every kind of social inter- action, and the basic method of inquiry is the construction of conceptual schemes revealing the structures of social groups and the functions these structures subserve.12. Economics differs from sociology in that it is a more special- ized discipline.13. Sociology deals with social behavior in general, while eco- nomics deals with only one department of such activity.14. The central fact around which all economic thought and action turns is that human beings have unlimited wants but only limit- ed resources.15. Economics is not concerned with scarcity in any absolute sense, but only in relation to people’s desires, that appear to be with- out bounds.16. Economic behavior pertains even to the most wealthy societies, because the degree of affluence is never such that people do not in some respect want more than they have.17. The use of money is of far-reaching importance, for it permits economic activity to be measured mathematically.18. Because of the quantification effected by the use of money, economics is more amenable than any other social science to the use of precise theoretical models and the mathematical for- mulation of its principles and laws.19. Economics as a modern policy science depends heavily upon descriptive statistics. ____________________
SOCIAL SCIENCE 217Psychology is a transition field belonging both to the sciences of na-ture and the sciences of man. This dual membership is evident in thetension between the two main lines of psychological inquiry discussedin the previous chapter. The social sciences, chiefly among which aresocial psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, and politicalscience, are clearly in the domain of the sciences of man. In these dis -ciplines the effort to identify with the concepts of the natural sciencesis no longer as evident as in psychology, and the distinctive featuresof the autonomous study of various types of human behavior comeinto view. GEOGRAPHY INCLUDED AMONG THE SOCIAL SCIENCES Geography may also be included among the social sciences. Itis a descriptive discipline concerned with facts about the earth asman’s habitation. It differs from the sciences in one major respectwherein the ideal of geographic knowledge is not generalizations andlaws, but full understanding of particular peoples and places. In thisrespect geography on the one hand resembles the science of anthro-pology, with its descriptions of particular cultures. On the other handgeography resembles the synoptic discipline of history, with its re-counting of particular human events. Like history, geography has wide integrative sweep, utilizingand coordinating knowledge from many other disciplines, includingthe physical sciences, the life sciences, the social sciences, and (in his -torical geography) history. The major organizing principle of geogra-phy is place rather than time, as in history. Geography is less synopticthan history in that the meanings integrated come largely from the em -pirical realm (except for historical geography) and not from the esthet-ic, synnoetic, and ethical realms. On balance, then, it is probably bestto regard geography as essentially an empirical discipline with astrongly concrete and integrative emphasis.
218 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING SOCIAL SCIENCE DEALS WITH THE WORLD OF C ULTURE AND S OCIETY The conflict in psychology, between those who study what na-ture has made of man and those who study what man has made ofhimself, is not marked in social science. Natural science is concernedwith the objective processes of nature, the science of man with thecreation and creations of persons. Social science deals with the worldof culture and society, a world of which human beings are themselvesthe architects. For this reason the kinds of abstractions that apply tothe world of all material things or even of animate beings generallycannot suffice for the description of the human world. S OCIAL S CIENCES H AVE I NNER T ENSIONS AND G ROWING PAINS The social sciences are not without inner tensions and growingpains. Sociology has struggled to become free of its earlier associa-tions with social reform, just as psychology has fought free of its ear-lier philosophical and religious ties. Anthropology in coming of agehas had to go beyond its previous largely exclusive preoccupationwith primitives. Perhaps the most serious problem of the social scien-tists has been to avoid value judgments, as objective scientists are sup-posed to do, and yet not nullify the relevance of their knowledge toreal human concerns.1 Because of the present fluid state of these fieldsit is particularly important to be aware of the tentative and historicallyconditioned character of the following attempt to epitomize two repre-sentative social science disciplines. S OCIAL S CIENCES C ONCERNED W ITH DIFFERENT A SPECTS OF H UMAN L IFE Each of the special social sciences is concerned with somewhatdifferent aspects of human life. Of the five disciplines listed above,anthropology is the most comprehensive, including studies of all as-pects of the man-made world, from languages and tools to law, man-ners, and religion. One of its branches, physical anthropology, proper-ly belongs to biological science, and another, archaeology, is mostclosely allied to the synoptic discipline, history. Sociology is also1 On the problem of vitality and relevance in social science research see C. WrightMills, The Sociological Imagination, Oxford University Press. Fair Lawn, NJ,1959.
SOCIAL SCIENCE 219comprehensive, but more restricted in range of concepts and methodsand is better suited than anthropology to illustrate social science as adistinctive domain of inquiry. Social psychology may be regarded forour purposes as belonging to sociology. Political science is still in ahighly fluid state, making it difficult to characterize briefly. Eco-nomics is relatively precise and affords an excellent illustration of amore specialized description of human behavior than is found in an-thropology and sociology. TREATMENT OF SOCIAL SCIENCE FOCUSED O NLY ON S OCIOLOGY AND E CONOMICS On these grounds it appears reasonable to limit the present il-lustrative treatment of the field of social science to the two disciplinesof sociology and economics, brief characterizations of which willserve to indicate some of the modes of thought found in social sciencegenerally. S OCIOLOGY Sociology is a relatively young science concerned with ex-tremely complex matters. It is not surprising, therefore, that many dif-ferences occur in ideas and techniques of investigation in the disci -pline and that precise and stable formulations are rare. The followingsketch should be taken only as one illustration of the patterns ofthought in this field.
220 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING Children learn at an early age that although humans want to express their individuality, humans group themselves with those that are perceived to have similar likenesses. Humans view themselves as they are in large part because of the way others treatthem. So, boys act like boys, and girls like girls, because that’s the way they are or because humans treatboys one way and girls another.
222 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANINGSociology Defined Max Weber defined sociology as “that science which aims atthe interpretive understanding of social behavior in order to gain anexplanation of its causes, its course, and its effects.”2 In this definitiontwo features particularly deserve comment. First, the subject matter ofsociology is social behavior. For Weber, the term “behavior” is usedto refer to subjectively meaningful action. Reflexive, instinctive, andautomatic kinds of behavior are excluded. Behavior is distinctivelyhuman only when a person acts consciously and deliberately, withpurposes and ends in view, and is motivated by certain attitudes andfeelings. Furthermore, the behavior in question is “social” in the sensethat it is oriented toward the conduct of other persons. Specifically,conduct exclusively in relation to inanimate objects or animals doesnot belong to sociology. Sociology is concerned with interactionamong persons, each of whom takes account of others as individualswith attitudes and expectations toward himself. Even though the sub-ject matter is social interaction, the distinctive sociological mode ofanalysis is to refer to the meaningful experience of individuals, thatalone can yield understanding of behavior. The second noteworthy point in Weber’s definition centers inthe phrase “interpretive understanding.” The subjective intentions thatdetermine social behavior can be understood only if the scientist by anact of imaginative projection puts himself intellectually and emotion-ally in the position of those whose behavior he seeks to explain. Whilesuch interpretive criteria need not be inconsistent with scientific ob-jectivity, they are far from the elemental objectifications that makephysical science data universally confirmable. Interpretive criteria un-derscore the autonomy of sociology as a discipline with its ownunique concepts, thuds, and varieties of empirical meaning.Creation of Sociological Conceptual Categories An essential part of any scientific inquiry is the creation of con-ceptual categories suitable to the subject matter investigated. In soci-ology most of what is studied is familiar to everyone in everyday ex-perience, for example, social relationships, customs, values, and insti-tutions. In this regard sociology differs from most other sciences,which are largely concerned with unusual and unfamiliar phenomena.2 Basic Concepts of Sociology, tr. by H. P. Secher, The Citadel Press, New York,1962, p. 29. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
SOCIAL SCIENCE 223The sociologist must therefore make a special effort to devise new andmore precise ways of speaking about relatively familiar matters.The Method of Precise Sociological Definition By way of illustrating the method of precise sociological defini -tion of otherwise commonsense ideas, three of Weber’s definitionsmay be cited. A social relationship . . . will be known as “open” to those on the outside, if, and insofar as, participation in the mutually ori- ented social conduct, relevant to its subjective meaning, is, ac- cording to its system of authority, not denied to anyone who is inclined to participate and is actually in a position to do so.3 A “corporate organization” is an aggregative social relationship characterized by an administrative staff whose activity is orient- ed exclusively and continuously to achieving the goals of the organization.4 By “power” is meant that opportunity existing within a social relationship which permits one to carry out one’s own will even against resistance and regardless of the basis on which this op- portunity rests.5In commenting on the definition process (as he would not feel obligedto do in physics or biology, for example) Weber remarks: “The appar-ently ‘laborious’ definition of these concepts is an example thatwhat is ‘self-evident’ is rarely thought out clearly, for the very reasonthat it appears obvious.” 6Major Concepts in Sociological Analysis Some of the major concepts in sociological analysis are indicat-ed in the italicized words of the following sum mary statement:3 Ibid ., p. 97, Reprinted by permission of the publisher.4 Ibid ., p. 1 15. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.5 Ibid ., p. 1 17. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.6 Ibid ., p. 98. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
224 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING Social Group. A social group is a system of social interaction,whose members cooperate toward common goals and recognize cer-tain social norms specifying rules of behavior, rights, and obligations,violation of which brings sanctions in the form of loss of cooperation,diminished prestige, and specific penalties. Social structure, whichrefers to the relatively stable modes of human interrelation, is deter-mined by differentiated social positions, to which attach certain roles(obligations within the social system) and status (rights and privilegesrelating to authority, remuneration, im munities, and prestige). A ref-erence group is a group the conception of which is part of the individ -ual’s basis for appraising his own social situation and expectations.Reference groups are an important factor in determining subjectivemeanings, intentions, and consequently social behavior. Institutionalization. Social norms are institutionalized whenthey are accepted by a large proportion of the members of the socialsystem, are internalized, and sanctioned. A social institution (e.g.,marriage or the system of exchange) is a complex of institutionalizednorms. These norms are the basis for ensuring conformity and socialcontrol and they also measure social deviation. ,
SOCIAL SCIENCE 225 Much of how people interpret their social position when they are young is carried on for life. Rarely does grouping undergo substantial change. How important is it to continually regroup students to expose them to new views and social situations without allowing them to become complacent? What happens to the young student who expends all of his energy on one particular activity throughout his schooling and finds that he will not become a professional athlete?
226 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANINGPicture
SOCIAL SCIENCE 227 Society. A society is a social group that occupies a definite ter-ritory, is perpetuated largely by sexual reproduction within the group,possesses a comprehensive culture (including characteristic thoughtforms, beliefs, values, norms, customs, institutions, and symbolic sys-tems), and does not form a subgroup of any other group (i.e., is inde -pendent). Every society has various subsystems that exist to meet ba-sic functional needs, for example, the family for social self-perpetua-tion, the economy for adaptation to the material environment, the poli-ty for the attainment of social ends, and such systems as the press,courts, and religious organizations for the integration of the society. Function or Dysfunction. Any social structure or partial struc-ture (mechanism) may be analyzed as to function or dysfunction, bywhich is meant the degree to which it does or does not fulfill socialneeds. Functions are manifest or latentdepending on whether they areintended and recognized or not. Sociological inquiry in large part con-sists in the analysis of the functions and dysfunctions of various socialstructures and mechanisms. Particularly important is the study of suchmajor social subsystems as kinship groups, economic organizations,political structures, and religious associations. Socialization. The process of learning a culture, called “social-ization,” takes place by social interaction, through which internalizedobjects are built up. Included among these internalizations are themany roles that define the system of duties toward others, and theseenter into the structure of the developing social self . Rank Orders. The members of any social system are generallyassigned implicitly or explicitly to certain rank orders on the basis ofqualities, relations, and performance. A group of families amongwhom intermarriage is generally regarded as appropriate, whose pres-tige ranking is about the same, and who interact socially on the basisof equality, comprise a social class. Occupational, ethnic, and reli-gious groups may also be ranked as to prestige levels. A variety of in -struments have been developed for measuring and predicting prestigelevels in any given society. The various forms of social stratificationmay be analyzed as to their functions and dysfunctions. Of importancealso is the study of social conflict and integration in intergroup rela-tions and of social mobility, by which a person’s social rank maychange, either as a result of personal performance or by the establish-ment of new social relationships.
228 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANINGSocial Change. Finally, social change can be analyzed in terms of theconcepts of structure, function, and social needs. While no exact lawsof social behavior have yet been formulated, some insights may begained into the basis for individual conformity and deviation and forthe transformations that take place in cultures, institutions, norms,roles, and rankings as a result of internal stresses, environmental fac-tors, or external pressures. Chief Aim of Sociology. The chief aim of sociology is to pro-vide an array of relatively precise descriptive and explanatory cate-gories for understanding the exceedingly diverse and complicatedphenomena of social behavior. The subject matter studied comprisesevery kind of social interaction, and the basic method of inquiry is theconstruction of conceptual schemes revealing the structures of socialgroups and the functions these structures subserve. Sociology Deals With Social Behavior in General. From soci-ology we turn to economics as a second illustration of the social sci-ence domain. Economics differs from sociology in that it is a morespecialized discipline. Sociology deals with social behavior in general,while economics deals with only one department of such activity. Thespecial concepts and methods applying to economics are a conse-quence of this limitation of subject matter. ECONOMICSEconomics Defined Paul A. Samuelson defines economics as “the study of howman and society choose, with or without the use of money, to employscarce productive resources to produce various commodities over timeand distribute them for consumption, now and in the future, amongvarious people and groups in society.”7 The central fact around whichall economic thought and action turns is that human beings have un-limited wants but only limited resources. From this disparity arises theproblem of scarcity of goods and services, that is, of things that peo-ple want. Economics is not concerned with scarcity in any absolutesense, but only in relation to people’s desires, that appear to be with-out bounds. Economic behavior therefore pertains even to the most7 Economics: An Introductory Analysis, 5th ea., McGraw-Hill Book Company,Inc., New York, 1961, p. 6. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
SOCIAL SCIENCE 229wealthy societies, because the degree of affluence is never such thatpeople do not in some respect want more than they have.Choice and Comparative Methods The fact of scarcity necessitates acts of choice as to what andhow much shall be produced, by whom, with what resources, and bywhat methods, and to whom the products shall be distributed. Theseare the fundamental economic problems in any society, and differenteconomic systems are devised to deal with them. Many different eco-nomic arrangements are possible, and the decision as to what systemof production and distribution is used depends upon many considera-tions, including historical precedents, cultural patterns, geography andnatural resources, population, intellectual, scientific, and technical de -velopment, religious beliefs, and political factors. For the most partthe facts and generalizations of economics apply to particular kinds ofeconomic systems and not to economic behavior in general. A com -prehensive understanding of the subject requires the use of compara-tive methods, in which similarities and differences between economicsystems (e.g., primitive, feudal, capitalist, and communist) are ana-lyzed.A Policy Science Because economic activity is a consequence of decision con-cerning matters of public importance, economics is called a “policyscience.” That is to say, it deals with problems belonging in the realmof social policy. This does not mean, however, that the economist assuch makes recommendations or decisions regarding public policy,for the meanings characteristic of his discipline are descriptive and notnormative, i.e., they disclose what is, what can be, and how any goalmay be reached, not what ought to be done (the latter pertains to thefield of ethics).Social Sciences Concerned With Artifacts of Culture To some extent all the social sciences are policy sciences sinceall are concerned in some way with the deliberate artifacts of culture(e.g., social institutions) rather than with the given facts of nature. Inthis respect meanings in the social sciences are similar to those in therealm of symbolics, and the empirical and symbolic domains overlap.As we have seen, languages are cultural artifacts designed for effec-
230 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANINGtive communication. Languages are instruments for social coordina-tion, just as are the various social inventions (including those of eco-nomic life) studied in the social sciences. It has already been men -tioned that linguistics is a branch of anthropology and that the onlydifference between the study of language and of linguistics is that lan-guage is directed at the effective practical mastery of particular sym -bolic systems, while linguistics is concerned primarily with general-izations, comparisons, and theoretical explanations about language. Ofall the sciences, economics is perhaps the most like language in thatconsiderable emphasis is placed on studying the structure of particularconventional systems of production and exchange rather than on thegeneral theory of such systems.Economic Life is Subject to Social Determination The nature of the meanings in a field can be of great practicalimportance and not only of speculative interest is well illustrated inthe history of economic thought. Classical economics was conceivedafter the fashion of a natural science, in the belief that the laws of ex-change were laws of nature and that the economic destinies of manwere guided by forces beyond his making or control. This physiocrat-ic position underlay a laissez-faire approach to economic life, whicheventually proved unrealistic and socially disastrous. it is now widelyrecognized that economic systems are human constructs, that econom -ic life is subject to social determination, and that economic problemscan be solved by deliberate policy decisions. This shift in economictheory from the status of a natural science to that of a policy sciencehas had profound and far-reaching effects on the organization of pro-duction and distribution in the modern world.Considerations of Economics The starting point for all consideration of economics is naturalrecourses (land) and population. All material wealth is drawn fromthe bounty of the earth and is appropriated by the people who inhabitthe earth. The raw materials of the land are extracted and transformedfor human use by means of labor. The productivity of labor is greatlyincreased by specialization of function and the division of laboramong the various specialists. The products of labor are the goods andservices that people need and want. Goods are of two broad kinds:consumer goods (like food and clothing), that are directly used for the
SOCIAL SCIENCE 231satisfaction of wants, and capital goods (like machinery and houses),that are used to sustain or increase productivity. An increase in capitalgoods requires a temporary sacrifice of consumer goods, but in thelong run the larger capital outlay should make possible a considerablyhigher output of consumer goods.Division of Labor Characteristics Every person needs many kinds of goods and services, and notonly those that he himself produces. The division of labor characteris-tic of all developed societies requires some system of exchange bywhich the production of each worker may be distributed to many oth-ers in return for a share in their products. The most influential socialinvention yet devised for effecting this exchange is the market system,in which the distribution of goods and services is determined by fac-tors of supply and demand. Goods and services in the market are as-signed prices, which under conditions of perfect competition are de -termined by the intersection of the two curves relating supply to priceand demand to price, respectively. Different forms of analysis apply tosituations of imperfect competition, of which the extreme case is com -plete monopoly. In the market system prices are assigned not only tocommodities, but also to labor as wages, to the use of land and capitalgoods as rent, and to invested funds as interest the rates of each being ,determined by and supply and demand factors just as in the case ofcommodities.The Use of Money The conduct of the market may be greatly facilitated by the useof money, that provides a convenient medium of exchange (all goodsand services being thus reducible to a common standard of value), aunit of accounting, a “store of value,” and a standard for deferred pay-ment. Money may be in the form of commodities (e.g., gold or othermetals), or more conveniently in various kinds of paper notes.Economic Analysis and Reasoning From the standpoint of understanding and control, the use ofmoney is of far-reaching importance, for it permits economic activityto be measured mathematically. Because of the money system, quali-tative preferences can be quantitatively assessed, and the powerful re-sources of mathematical computation can be brought to bear on the
232 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANINGstudy and management of economic processes. The methods of eco-nomic analysis are at many points comparable to those of physics,where measurement and quantification are also of the essence. A con-siderable part of economic reasoning consists in the construction ofideal models, on the basis of certain simplifying assumptions (e.g.,perfect competition), and the deduction of expected consequences,which can than be compared with observed economic behavior. If theobservations do not agree with predictions, the theoretical model maybe abandoned, or it may be refined and new testable predictions deter-mined, or its range of applicability may simply be circumscribed. Be -cause of the quantification effected by the use of money, economics ismore amenable than any other social science to the use of precise the-oretical models and the mathematical formulation of its principles andlaws.Economics Activity Economic activity is not, however, controlled simply an auto-matic market mechanism constituting an interactive system similar tothe matter-energy configurations of physics. The economy is part of alarger social system, and economic man is an abstraction from themore complex reality of social man. Economics includes the study of(a) business organizations, including proprietorships, partnerships,and corporations, with their various systems of capitalization, owner-ship and control, (b) labor unions and the processes of determiningwages, hours, and conditions of work through collective bargaining,strikes, and other procedures, and c) government, with its power tocontrol economic life through (a) direct government expenditures, (b)taxation, (c) money and credit control using the banking system (Fed -eral Reserve open market operations, discount rate policies, reserverequirements), (d) wage and price controls, (e) subsidies, (f) regula-tion of manufacturing, investment, transportation, and trade, (g) socialsecurity provisions, and (h) international economic policy (tariffs, for-eign aid, trade agreements, and cooperation with world or regional or-ganizations).Social Context of Economic Behavior The most distinctive feature of contemporary economics, incomparison with earlier economic thought (prior to about 1930), isthis recognition of the whole social context in which economic behav-
SOCIAL SCIENCE 233ior occurs. The classical study of market mechanisms (microeco-nomics) is being complemented by the analysis of total economic pat-terns (macro-economics), using such concepts as national income, na-tional product (gross or net), price level, wage level, rates of savingand investment, and rates of economic growth. These concerns thatoriginally came to the forefront in attempting to control the businesscycle have now been incorporated in a comprehensive system of eco-nomic thinking that recognizes the possibility of deliberate social con-trol of production and distribution in accordance with appropriatepublic policies regarding security, stability, freedom, and justice.Economics Depends on Descriptive Statistics Methodologically, it should be added that economics as a mod -ern policy science depends heavily upon descriptive statistics. De -scriptive statistics provides a picture of population trends, prices andinventories of various commodities, volume of trade, wages for vari-ous types of work and distribution of workers by occupation, levels ofinterest, rent, income, saving and investment, money in circulation,and all the other data required to make wise decisions, whether indi -vidually, in private associations, or in government. ECONOMICS COMBINES MANY REALMS In sum mary, the field of economics provides a fitting conclu-sion to our discussion of science as a realm of meaning. The study ofeconomic processes combines the mathematical and mechanistic con-siderations of the physical sciences, the organismic ideas of the lifesciences, and the distinctive human factors of the human sciences. Fi -nally, as conventional schemes, economic systems are related to thebasic symbolic forms, while as social inventions, they are related tothe created forms of the esthetic realm, to which we turn next. W AYS O F K NOWING1. Why is geography included among the social sciences?2. Why are the social sciences concerned with the world of culture and society?3. What are some of the social sciences’ inner tensions and grow- ing pains?
234 PART TWO: FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF MEANING4. What is one of the most serious problems facing social scien - tists?5. How would you explain to others what sociology aims to ac- complish?6. What is an essential part of any scientific inquiry?7. How does a sociology differ from most other sciences?8. Why are the creation of sociology conceptual categories impor- tant?9. Why is the method of precise sociological definition important?10. What are some of the major concepts on sociological analysis?1 1. What is the chief aim of sociology?12. How would you accurately define economics?13. What is the central fact around which all economic thought emerges?14. What are some fundamental economic problems facing any so- ciety?15. Why is economics called a “policy science”?16. How is economic life subject to social determination?17. What are some considerations of economics?18. Why is the division of labor important to economics?19. How is the conduct of the market greatly facilitated by the use of money?20. Why is money important?21. What is economic analysis?22. What is economic reasoning?23. What is economic activity?24. Economics includes the study of what?25. What is the most distinctive feature of contemporary eco- nomics?26. Why does economics depend heavily on descriptive statistics?27. How are economic systems related to the basic symbolic forms, while as social conventions, they are related to the creative forms of the esthetic realm?