Welcome to join our discussions on Pitirim Sorokin and any subject on Sociology
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We need the membership and participation of everyone to help build the section and the new field of specialization on the study of altruism, morality, and social solidarity we have established. At the ASA Meetings in New York we will have an important invited session, and a roundtable with over 20 papers.
Although published in the year 2008, a study done by the Canadian sociologist Gregory Sandstrom still remains one of few to analyze transformations in Russian sociology from the time of Pitirim Sorokin up to present-day efforts to find its identity. An abstract of the article is given here.
Although the sociological tradition in Russia reaches back to the late 19th century and is historically linked with western European sociological traditions, it is only since the end of the 1980s that contemporary Russian sociology has begun to blossom again and take tangible shape. This article elaborates the characteristic role that Russian sociology has played, now plays, and could possibly play in "globalizing sociology."
An integrative perspective or synthetic approach to knowledge most suitably defines the Russian tradition, placing sociology creatively between the humanities and natural sciences. This is partly due to the cultural and geographic diversity of a nation that crosses borders between east and west. Significant figures in the history of Russian sociology such as Pitirim Sorokin and Maxim Kovalevsky show how both importing and exporting sociological ideas constitute globalization, as well as the importance of traveling outside of one's home nation to discover the views of other civil societies.
The article gives an overview of problems, resources, and recent events in Russian sociology, highlighting lessons from Russia's experience in the transition to democracy and from state to market. These two transitions pose significant challenges to academic autonomy for professional sociology that are widely shared in the discipline outside the Big Four of the United States, Britain, Germany, and France, further suggesting the potential importance of the Russian experience for globalizing sociology.
Peter P. Sorokin, physicist, is the elder son of Pitirim Sorokin. He was educated in public schools, graduated from Harvard College, and received a Ph.D. from the Division of Applied Physics, also at Harvard. He is most noted for pioneering work in the development of the laser. Leading a small research group at the International Business Machines (IBM) company, Peter is credited with inventing the second and third devices of this kind and somewhat later, the dye laser and another tunable ultraviolet device that are now used in many applications. For this work he was given a lifetime position as an IBM Fellow, the company's highest technical honor, and has been recipient of awards in optical physics from several institutions including the Franklin Institute, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Physical Society. More recently he has been fascinated by a question in astrophysics: why is light from some very bright stars absorbed at certain specific wavelengths when it reaches the Earth? Is it due to absorption by particles in space dust, as many astronomers have speculated, or is it due, as Peter's detailed theory explains, to laser-like effects that under certain conditions are produced around stars by hydrogen molecules (the commonest element in the Universe). Although the question is not resolved, it may be said that there is little evidence for the space dust explanation and a great deal of coincidence between effects of the predicted behavior of hydrogen lazing near stars and the specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light absorption observed. Peter married Anita Jane Schell in 1977, and they have two children, Elena and Paul. For relaxation family members often enjoy taking long walks, and during holidays at the family summer place, Peter has been unusually keen on exercising with a traditional hand scythe to mow its fields.
Michael Burawoy has been a participant observer of industrial workplaces in four countries: Zambia, United States, Hungary and Russia. In his different projects he has tried to illuminate -- from the standpoint of the working class -- postcolonialism, the organization of consent to capitalism, the peculiar forms of class consciousness and work organization in state socialism, and, finally, the dilemmas of transition from socialism to capitalism. Over the course of four decades of research and teaching, he has developed the extended case method that allows broad conclusions to be drawn from ethnographic research. The same methodology is advanced in Global Ethnography, a book coauthored with 9 graduate students, that shows how globalization can be studied "from below" through participating in the lives of those who experience it. No longer able to work in factories, recently he turned to the study of his own workplace – the university – to consider the way sociology itself is produced and then disseminated to diverse publics. His advocacy of public sociology has generated much heat in many a cool place. Throughout his sociological career he has engaged with Marxism, seeking to reconstruct it in the light of his research and more broadly in the light of historical challenges of the late 20th and early 21st. centuries
I am pleased to announce the following section awards, which will be given yearly or less frequently, subject to the decision of the members of each award committee. Awards shall be conferred only if the committee(s) determine that nominated works merit an award intended to represent distinguished scholarship consistent with the nature and purpose of each award. The following awards will be considered:
Distinguished Career Award.
Outstanding Published Book Award.
Outstanding Published Article Award.
Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award.
In 1982, while living in the Boston area and doing research on the history of social science in the Harvard Archives, I was fortunate to meet Barry Johnston, who was then in the early stages of his work on the life and legacy of Pitirim A. Sorokin. Barry was staying with friends in Providence, Rhode Island, and commuting to Cambridge on a motorcycle. We immediately realized the close relationship of our research interests, and began a friendship that would endure for many years.
Some months before our first meeting, Barry had participated in a summer seminar at Duke University, under Ed Tiryakian, on "the importance of schools in the history of sociology." He gave me a draft paper to read, entitled (if I remember correctly), "Russian-American Sociology?" He had been looking into the careers of Russian emigre scholars, and at first I thought this might be in connection with the sociology course he taught at Indiana University Northwest on ethnic relations. I can't say at what point he began to focus almost exclusively on Sorokin's career and his philosophy of Integralism, but it may have been very soon afterward.
Perhaps my strongest impression and memory, regarding Barry's work on Pitirim, was that it was truly a labor of love. It's an interesting question, perhaps, whether one can love someone whom one has not met in person or communicated with directly, but when Barry would speak of Sorokin it always seemed to me that he did so in a tone of genuine affection, mixed with awe at the scope of Sorokin's work and achievement. Perhaps love energy, in a way we do not fully comprehend, transcends the limits of the everyday space-time continuum that we experience. I would like to think so. Certainly Barry seemed to feel that Sorokin had a great heart that gave life to his scientific work, his advocacy of non-violence and altruism and his lover's quarrel with the field of sociology. Sorokin himself liked to say, "Love begets love," and it seems to me that Barry's writings on Sorokin were indeed an instance of "one heart calling out to another" (in Latin, "cor ad cor loquitur," the motto of John Henry Cardinal Newman, a Catholic saint who died in 1889, the year of Pitirim's birth).
At times like these, no words are adequate and we are left with the "inward groaning" described by the apostle Paul. I can only say, "Lux aeterna, dear friend; vita mutatur, non tollitur."
Vincent Jeffries received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the editor of Handbook of Public Sociology. In recent years he has published articles in professional journals on topics such as altruism, the nature of love, marriage and family, virtue theory, and various aspects of Pitirim A. Sorokin's integral sociology. He is currently working on the analysis of data from a study of long-term marriages. In recent years he has served as Coordinator and Acting Chairperson of the recently established Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity Section of the American Sociological Association.
1. I think that it's a good idea to post a summary in English of Pitirim Sorokin's utopian novel, "The Laundry of Human Souls," to gather opinions from a wider-than-our in-group audience to see if it's worth issuing in an English translation. A limited edition in the original Russian was published in Moscow in 2009 but few copies are still available. Based on the summary I've seen, it is a fantasy, somewhat after the manner of H. G. Wells, that takes up many complex social issues and shows them in different lights as the story unfolds. Its apparent richness in these qualities contrasts with what our public figures and the broadcast media usually provide today:
2. With our current high levels of unemployment and the fiscal crises in our country, I keep hoping some voices will emerge to offer more imaginative solutions to these problems than the shopworn, politically-motivated stuff our politicians, especially those in Congress, hand out. Little more seems obtainable from programs on current events like those on PBS radio I sometimes listen to. There commentators fill the hour with plenty of talk but scarcely depart from certain fixed positions they have been selected to present, whether leftish, right, or far-right. With this format it becomes virtually impossible for any new ideas or "syntheses" to emerge and we are left impoverished. Once in a while there's a spark or little flicker, almost always coming from someone dialing in, but too often such episodes with fresh ideas get short shrift, or are simply ignored, particularly if they are not quite what the screener who answers the phone took them to be, or if the commentators of the day were not quick enough to discuss them.
I received my B.A. summa cum laude from Princeton University and my Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University. Prior to my appointment at Duke I taught at both Princeton and Harvard. At Duke I have served as departmental chair and as Director of International Studies (1989-91), in which capacity I was instrumental in internationalizing the university. I served as the Distinguished Leader of the Fulbright New Century Scholars Program, 2002-2003. The focus of the program was for a multidisciplinary team of 30, two-thirds from overseas, to study comparatively severe ethnic conflicts and peace processes. I have served (1981-84) as past president of the American Society for the Study of Religion and of the International Association of French-Speaking Sociologists (1988-1992).I have twice been chair of theTheory Section of the American Sociological Association and am 2005-06 Chair of the ASA History of Sociology section. I have had visiting appointments at Laval University (Quebec), the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Paris), and the Free University of Berlin. In recent years I have given seminars on European Unity,Sociology of Disasters, History of Social Thought (SOC 138), Sociology of Religion (SOC 151), Modern Nationalist Movements (SOC 179) and cultural and political aspects of Globalization (SOC 222). I have in recent years either attended international conferences and congresses and/or lectured in France, Italy,Lebanon, Israel,Korea,Australia and China.