Edward Tiryakian: Updating Sorokin

Nearly half a century has passed since the original publication of this volume of essays intended as a festschrift in honor of one of the most important figures of twentieth-century sociology. This reissue will provide today's readers a benchmark on salient theorizing in the post-World War II era prepared as a tribute to its recipient, Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin (1889-1968), who had undergone benign neglect by the profession. In addition, I will provide an update on Sorokin's resurrected stature in the profession since 1963. In doing so, the core argument is that Sorokin's contributions to sociology have as much to offer today as that of any figure in the sociological pantheon. The title of the volume reflects three interrelated areas of concern to Sorokin in his voluminous productivity, areas which are diffused throughout sociology then and now. Responding to the temerity of a then young assistant professor, senior sociologists readily accepted to prepare an original contribution for the festschrift. Those broad areas are the starting point for several essays, by Marion J. Levy, Jr. ("Some Problems for a Unified Theory of Human Nature"), Charles Loomis ("Social Change and Social Systems"), and Florence Kluckhohn ("Some Reflections on the Nature of Cultural Integration"). Additionally, the contributors include two who, before the volume's publication, had already served as president of the American Sociological Association (Talcott Parsons in 1949 and Robert Merton, 1957), while two would succeed Sorokin in that capacity (Wilbert Moore in 1966I and Charles Loomis in 1967).

This is not the occasion to summarize the contents, which was already done in the original, nor to provide biographical data either about the contributors or about Sorokin himself, especially since regarding the latter there is available his autobiographies, his wife Elena's account, and Barry Johnston's definitive biography.[1] In addition, there have also appeared various important expositions and analyses of Sorokin's theoretical and substantive works, which constitute an important secondary literature.[2] However, for a greater appreciation of the changing professions' regard for Sorokin, it might be well to consider an evolving context of Sorokin's situation since the early 1960s. As one who gave a major place to the dynamics of change in his theorizing, his own situation – during and after his death – is replete with cyclical change in terms of his relevance and appreciation.




Pitirim Sorokin had left Russia in the wake of the Bolshevik takeover in 1919, arrived in the United States in 1923, and had a meteoric rise in American sociology, culminating in setting up and becoming chairman of the first Department of Sociology at Harvard University in 1931, with Robert Merton as the first graduate student. His four-volume Social and Cultural Dynamics was "hailed in public and academic circles" (Johnson 1995: 114), and he was known internationally, becoming president of the International Institute of Sociology in 1936. Yet, after World War II, even as Sociology at Harvard morphed into the Department of Social Relations, bringing together sociology, social anthropology, social psychology and clinical psychology—fields that Sorokin had viewed as being integrally related in the triumvirate of society, culture, and personality3. Sorokin underwent a painful period of benign neglect from mainstream sociology. How or why did this happen?

A lot were the doings of his own personality, as an administrator, as a professional sociologist in the United States, and to another extent, as a teacher of graduate students. He brought to America much of the baggage of a Russian intellectual in exile, and though he never returned to his native homeland, he did not take easily to the American cultural soil. He never became an "organization man," adapting to the politics of American academic life, not even when given the authority of being a departmental chair. The conflicts and worries of academics, including those of chairman, are part of the quotidian setting so well discussed in this volume by Logan Wilson ("Disjunctive Processes in an Academic Milieu"). But Sorokin did not have the patience for compromise, nor the attention for details necessary, as he had admitted himself: I seem to belong to the lone-wolf variety of scholars who, if need be, can do their work alone without a staff of research assistants or funds.[4]

This trait is singled out in Lewis Coser's concluding evaluation of a balanced and sympathetic rendition of Sorokin. "
Being a perpetual loner, an outsider who wished to show the insiders the error of their ways, provided the motivation and emotional energies that enabled him to do the prodigious amount of scholarly work that he accomplished. Yet this loner's stance also alienated him in the end from much of his potential audience" (Coser: 1977: 508).

If Sorokin did not feel at home with the petty transgressions of everyday academic routine, this does not mean he shied away from engaging in controversies, even polemics, vis-à-vis colleagues, the profession, or even American foreign policy (especially regarding in the 1960s the Vietnam War). Without detailing the similarity, Sorokin, the brilliant Russian exile at Harvard, bears comparison with Georges Gurvitch, also a brilliant Russian exile who, while often irascible, became a leading sociological theorist at the Sorbonne in the postwar years. His contribution in this volume, "Social Structure And the Multiplicity of Times," has affinity with Sorokin's methodology regarding temporality.

The notion of a "loner" is not exhaustive. Prophets are par excellence "loners" and a good deal of the public display of Sorokin at professional meetings and other audiences was that of a "prophet," voicing a jeremiad in many of his "mid period works" (I place this between 1935- 1955). It was all about the cataclysms and holocausts facing a decaying sensate supercultural system, coming to the end of a long cycle. That might have been ignored in mainstream sociology, but attacks on the profession's evaluation on what is "scientific" as being not much more than a concoction of "Fables and Foibles,"[5] and testifying at a congressional hearing that federal funding of the social sciences was a waste of taxpayer's money, were hardly blandishments for Sorokin's professional reputation. He was, as I have suggested elsewhere, very much a "maverick" at Harvard, as (C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) was one at Columbia.[6]

There is another designation that one might apply equally to Sorokin and Mills that of a "public sociologist" as explicated by Michael Burawoy in his ASA 2004 presidential address, "For Public Sociology." [7] Burawoy affirmed that sociological knowledge is not unidimensional to professional, objective knowledge. It also addresses critical, policy, and public knowledge, engaging multiple publics in multiple ways. The latter reflect "different value commitments on the part of sociologists," but ostensibly public sociology "has no intrinsic normative valence, other than the commitment to dialogue around issues raised in and by sociologists" (2005:8).

Burawoy's broad coverage of sociologists, from the classical figures to contemporary researchers who have exposed social ills for greater public scrutiny and awareness, acknowledges C. Wright Mills as the "champion of traditional public sociology" (2005:9). It is disappointing that in the vast tableau Burawoy offers in his address and its impressive bibliography, no mention is made of Pitirim Sorokin, and for that matter, of the part students at Burawoy's own university played in Sorokin's recognition at an earlier ASA annual meeting, as I will discuss shortly. Yet a good case can be made for Sorokin to share alongside Mills to be recognized as a "public sociologist" avant la lettre

In this vein he had not only decried an emergent revolution in sexual morality and saw some of its far-reaching sociocultural consequences,[8] but also lashed at the ineptness of the political class of today's ruling class which has an...immense fund of deadly power...monopolistically controlled by a mere handful of governmental rulers, assisted by a few leaders of science and technology and the captains of industry and finance.

His forebodings were soon realized by the proneness of the United States to engage a few years later in the costly war in Indo-China/Vietnam, which he bitterly opposed for the rest of his life. And in the present decade, the wartime involvement in the Middle East would assuredly have led him to continue his lashing at America's power elite:
 ... the ideologists of the government are quite busy preparing... other 'reports' demanding many additional billions from the impoverished taxpay¬ers to carry on a still madder armament race in preparation for a still more Satanic world war (Sorokin and Lauden 1959: 102).

Sorokin might well have claimed to be a forerunner of "public sociology" in his critique of currents of "late sensate" culture and its political framework, for instance his extra academic attack of foreign policy complementing his criticism of one-sided empirical, "quantophrenia." The initial contribution in this Transaction volume was by Arthur K. Davis, a peripatetic Canadian sociologist who had begun his studies at Harvard in 1933, and did his dissertation on Thorstein Veblen (a very early public sociologist) under Talcott Parsons. Davis (hen found Parsons too much of an "idealist," converted to "Marxist materialism," and engaged in community activism in various places. Writing retrospectively, he notes that "there are more fundamentals of sociology to be learned from Sorokin than from almost any other academic social scientist today." [10] Davis praises Sorokin for having a broader view of the world than a narrow Western-centric perspective, and equally important, for tackling the basic problems of our age, leading social and ethical issues, without hiding behind the canon of objectivity (ibid., p. 6). Although it is a short piece, it is valuable in conveying from one who himself was essentially a "public sociologist" in a Canadian context what intellectual nurturance Sorokin offered students: intellectual stimuli and intellectual space, even with those who might be "materialists" and not "idealists."

Before taking a new look at Sorokin, let me venture why the initial success of attracting top graduate students to Harvard in the first years of the department ended by the end of the decade on a bitter note, particularly marked in his relation with the young sociologist he had recruited from the Department of Economics, Talcott Parsons (Johnston 1995:701). This is admittedly somewhat of a conjecture on my part, based on my academic contacts with both Sorokin and Parsons in the 1950s.

Sorokin was in the mold of the great conferenciers of European tradition, bringing flourish, passion, and an encyclopedic knowledge to his lectures. While this left a large audience in awe, it did not make for close contacts with graduate students in the seminar. At Harvard, Parsons was much more effective in making most graduate students feel interactive, even proactive in discussions. Hence, while both were highly respected, Parsons by the end of the decade had become the intellectual magnet. This tension grew when a new administration at Harvard entrusted the organization of a new department in 1946 to Parsons as the chairman.

In the immediate post-war period, Sorokin saw his position at Harvard greatly weakened; his close ally Carle Zimmerman, a contributor to this volume ("Convergence of the Major Human Family Systems During the Space Age") and a leading sociologist of the family, became shunted for echoing gloomy views of the decline of civilization as a function of the decline of family organization. Effectively, the only exposure to either that graduate students got entering the sociology segment of the Department of Social Relations were a brief exposure to Sorokin when the departmental faculty came for one-hour sessions with entering students. Neither Sorokin nor Zimmerman taught graduate courses during my years in Social Relations.[11] And in the larger society, the rebuilding of America and the reconstruction of war-torn Europe guided by a pax Americana shunted the pessimism of Sorokin's earlier analyses of the cyclical decline of sensate civilization and of the deep crisis in values of late sensate society. What seemed "in" was the emphasis on development and orderly progress, and making sociology more objective and scientific.


The halcyon period of postwar America did not last, but paradoxically, its aftermath has also witnessed a remarkable return of Sorokin to sociological consciousness and relevance, a return from a second exile. Let me trace out some of the factors involved.

First, at the beginning of the decade marked by "The Winds of Change," as Harold Macmillan prophetically stated in addressing the South African Parliament in I960, Sorokin's true intellectual merit became gradually recognized and the vitriol washed away. At nearly the same time as Sociological Theory, Values, and Sociocultural Change appeared, Phillip Allen presented Sorokin with a similar set of contributions entitled Pitirim A. Sorokin in Review; both volumes even had some contributors in common (Bernard Barber, Robert Merton, and Nicholas Timasheff), though not writing on the same topic. In the Allen volume, Sorokin in a concluding segment ("Reply to My Critics," Allen 1963:371-496) showed how much he appreciated the contribution of former students and colleagues, even while seeking to refute their individual critiques. Robert Merton enjoyed a key place in both volumes, not only having been the first to enroll when Sociology opened its doors at Harvard but also because he had been his most entrusted junior associate in the mid-1930s, collaborating on several projects.[12]

Perhaps particularly satisfying was the contribution of Parsons (in the present volume, "Christianity and Modern Industrial Society"), not that Sorokin could accept without reservation Parsons' linear sweep.[13] But Parsons, whom Sorokin had derided on occasion, took time out from other multiple commitments to write an original essay of the bearing of religion on social evolution of modern society; it was, so to speak, a notable peace offering.

Sorokin was able to reciprocate this very shortly after an unprecedented write-in ballot organized by a large group of friends, headed by Otis Dudley Duncan,[14] put him on the presidential ballot of the American Sociological Association. Wilbert Moore, the official candidate, who had studied with both Sorokin and Merton at Harvard, and who was a ready contributor to the festschrift ("The Temporal Structure of Organizations" in this volume), gallantly offered to step aside and delay his presidency. Sorokin was thus elected to the highest office in the profession in his seventy-fifth year. Rejuvenated, he gave a sparkling presidential address the next year at the ASA convention in Chicago.[15] The setting gave him the opportunity to review to a large audience his major theoretical views of a multidimensional, integral theory. Far from the combative style he had been known for in previous years, the address was more of a peace offering, allowing for the inclusion in sociology's pursuit of knowledge of sociocultural reality of a wide array of perspectives and methodologies. Thus in his conclusion:
 The sound part of macrosociological theories of vast sociocultural sys-tems...complements the microsociological studies of small groups and small cultural unities...Valid contributions from the analytical, structural-func¬tional, dialectic, empirical, integral, and other currents of sociological thought arc quite reconcilable with one another... (Sorokin 1965: 842).

A tribute that he did not live to see, but which he would have greatly relished, was given Sorokin the year after his death. San Francisco was again the site of the 1969 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association; it took place at the end of a decade marked by violence, assassinations, acute civil protests, and the attempt of the United States to extricate itself from a no-win situation in the prolonged war in Vietnam. All this made, among an idealistically inclined young generation coming of age, for a strong anti-establishment feeling prone to challenge institutionalized authority. The last years of the decade (essentially, 1966-1969) were a tumultuous period of anomie, at the national level, at the academic level, and at the level of professional organizations, particularly those of the social sciences and the humanities. As much for the ASA as for other professional meetings during 1968-1969, it was a "time out of joint," or as Gurvitch in this volume termed it, "explosive time" which dissolves the present as well as the past in the creation of the future immediately transcended. Here the discontinuous, the contingent and the qualitative. ..reduce their opposites to inexistence, or nearly so. Such a time is that of collective acts of creation which always play some role in social life (Gurvitch: xxx).

While the annual meeting took place at the Hilton hotel, fliers were distributed encouraging sociologists to attend instead a protest meeting at the nearby Glide Memorial Church. In a few years the latter had undergone a remarkable transformation under its young African-American minister, Cecil Williams, who opened the door to "all classes, hues, and life styles," and Glide had become a lively asylum for those marginalized and disaffected from mainstream America.[16] For that occasion, radical students from Berkeley and San Francisco State University acted as hosts of sociologists leaving the "staid" convention headquarters, and as one entered, one was presented with several buttons, in lieu of the official meeting badges. One button proclaimed "Sociology Liberation Movement," a second "Revolution Not Counter-Insurgency" and the third... "Sorokin Lives"! Among other activities, the highlight of that rump meeting was a panel session honoring Sorokin as a radical sociologist. How had this unusual turn of events come about to make Sorokin an icon of radical students?

Sorokin was viewed by students as a non-conformist, who had pitted himself vigorously against the "establishment." First, against the intellectual establishment of positivistic, quantitative, sociology privileging scientific "objectivity" and societal equilibrium, when the mood of the times for a new generation had shifted to favor conflict, alienation, subjectivity, counter-cultural norms, and even societal and revolutionary change. Sorokin's crisis-oriented Social Philosophies of an Age of Crisis (1950), S.O.S. The Meaning of Our Crisis (1951), Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology (1956), and Power and Morality (1959) that had been spurned by sociologists in the decade of their publication, were much better suited to the temper of the late 1960s than either microscopic empirical studies of quotidian social organization or the imposing Social System of Parsons which had set the theoretical pace of the '50s.[17] Sorokin had lived through a revolution and had been a revolutionary in the toppling of Czarist authority that in 1969 for radical students was a badge of honor that other members of the sociological establishment had not earned. Moreover, Sorokin had further shown his mettle by vigorously opposing wars of all sorts, ill id denouncing publicly ruling elites responsible for the conduct of what the left saw as a colonial war.[18]

As an epilogue to this dramatic event—a student-organized rump Million jarring the well-organized, albeit raucous annual meeting of the American Sociological Association—none of the sociological contributors to a retrospective volume of the import of the 1960s[19] cited the 1969 convention, either that of the "establishment" or that of the radical students. Although their articles showed varying degrees of reflexivity over the period when they came of age, they seemed to forget that 1969 had followed 1968, not only in the country but also in the annual gathering of sociologists. It was, unwittingly, an Orwellian erasing of history from the collective memory.

Besides the belated recognition that Sorokin received in the United States in the 1960s, the changing world conditions in the past quarter of a century have had a significant impact on his becoming recognized as a theorist for our own times, as a vibrant voice to be heard. I now turn to the factors that underlie the new valence of Sorokin.


The implosion of the USSR in the dramatic years 1989-91 had many consequences, fortunate and unfortunate, for its hegemon, Russia. Being neither a political scientist, nor an economist, nor for that matter, Russian, I will not seek to evaluate the structural and psychological consequences. But for Sorokin, the unexpected change of regime—which had seemed so monolithic and impervious to change a few years earlier—generated an unexpected boon in the public recognition of Sorokin in his native Russia, a country he never got to revisit while alive. How did this come about?

Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy, which had anchored social thought and research in its own myth of social progress for seventy years, had overnight lost credibility with a chain of events that propelled Boris Yeltsin as president of the new Russian Federation in December 1991. The contrived socialist state-centered command economy was quickly replaced with a free-market economy, briskly bolstered by "economic shock therapy." The immediate results were far from intended as the rest of the decade was marked by an immediate rise in unemployment, inflation, and government corruption that sanctioned a few "oligarchs" to seize valuable national resources. At the end of the decade of social turmoil, the new regime had become so unpopular that its leader was forced to resign.

By the same token, the vacuum in the administration of Russia also produced a vacuum in the theoretical approaches of economics and sociology. This led to the discovering of two great figures who had disappeared from sight in the communist period: Nikolai Kondratieff (or Kondratiev) and Pitirim Sorokin. Both had known each other in St. Petersburg as graduate students, and both had served in the short-lived Kerensky reform government in 1917.

Kondratieff used historical statistics to argue for long business cycles (45-60 years) of periods alternating between boom and depression. This generated a keen interest in the West (including Joseph Schumpeter who proposed the term "Kondratiev waves"), and later by sociologists such as Francois Simiand in France, and Immanuel Wallerstein in his "world system" theory. But it went against Stalin's predilection for the Soviet economy to have five-year plans dedicated to heavy industrial goods production. Kondratieff became a victim of Stalinist "purges" in the 1930s, jailed, and executed at age 46 by a firing squad. His rehabilitation came early and fast in the 1990s with the establishment in Moscow of the International Foundation of N. Kondratiev and the publication of his banished economic writings.[20] The economic crisis and rapid socioeconomic changes of the 1990s that continued to shake Russia made the writings of Kondratiev an intelligible road map, if not of the future, then of the present.
The historical nexus between Kondratiev and Sorokin noted earlier has been further cemented with their coming together in the new Sorokin-Kondratiev Institute as part of the Kondratiev Foundation, active in the publication of their works (including translations into Russian of works published in English) and in sponsoring a variety of international meetings.[21]

Among such, one in particular might be noted, since it signaled symbolically a return home of Sorokin. On February 4-6, 1999, the 110th anniversary of Sorokin's birth, an international symposium, "Pitirim Sorokin and Sociocultural Tendencies of Our Times," was held first in Moscow, in the Russian Academy of Government Service, which is a part of the President of the Russian Federation's Office, then at St. Petersburg State University, where Sorokin had launched the Department of Sociology.[22] Organized by the International Nikolai Kondratiev Foundation, it was a fitting "home-coming" occasion, attended by over a hundred social scientists and educators, including Sorokin's son Sergei (now in charge of the Sorokin Foundation in the family home in Winchester, Massachusetts), Sorokin's biographer, Barry Johnston, and me.

Since then, there has been continuing Russian interest in the works of Sorokin, as may be judged in the updated bibliography in this edition. Sorokin's writings on revolutions, war, societal crisis, famine, and large-scale social change may not have seen relevant to an American sociological audience in the 1950s, but they certainly were to a Russian audience at the end of the last century. First had come the disastrous war in Afghanistan that finally ended with Russian evacuation in 1988-89. Then had come the collapse of the Soviet Union and the crippling economic upheavals under Yeltsin.

Sorokin's writings on late sensate culture tied in with the times, and reinforced what Kondratiev had seen as conditions one may expect in the downward phase of a "long cycle." Certainly, that part of Sorokin's sociology—which I earlier termed the "mid period" works of The Dynamics, Crisis of our Age, Men and Society in Calamity, S.O.S The Meaning of Our Crisis—made him more comprehensible in Russia than the then-dominant microsocial theory in American sociology of "rational choice."

Sorokin had been a prophet without a country in I960. In 2000, his home country had found him, proud to reclaim him as one of the great sociological theorist of modern society. There is more to updating him as a world sociologist. This will be undertaken in the concluding section.


Several themes that Sorokin had dealt with over the years but which lay neglected by the profession one or two generations ago have caught on in the new century.

Just as his study of social mobility done in the 1920s did not become appreciated until it provided a stimulus for the new stratification study launched years later by Blau and Duncan (supra, note 14), his taking civilizations as units of macro historical analysis has only recently been reawakened as a focal concern. Recall that Sorokin viewed these as more encompassing sociocultural systems than individual nation-states, and that they arc subject to broad endogenous cyclical patterns akin to business cycles, though on a wider scale. Moreover, his theorizing held that the late phase of what had been for centuries the dominant core of "sensate" culture in Western civilization correlated with increasing severe disturbances and mayhem in social organization. The characteristics of implied ''decline" and "decay" as present spiraling trends, shared by a cluster of nation-states at the core of Western civilization, could hardly appeal to sociologists who had applied the theme of "progress" to different models of change, whether "modernization" or "world-system" analyses. Sorokin and the centrality he gave to "civilization" seemed out of place in the sociological mainstream, well into the late 1980s.[23] It was a fuzzy concept associated with the humanities. Since then, however, several stimuli have led to the reappearance of "civilization" in sociological awareness.

First, S. N. Eisenstadt, a noted theorist of comparative social change at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who had attended meetings of ISCSC, organized a team research on the dynamics of civilizations. His publication of The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations launched an important set of comparative studies, especially in sociology and political science.[24] The focus of this approach is not, however, on a uniform pattern of development, but on tracing from a relatively compact time period (spanning about six centuries) diverse historical paths of modernity and new visions of humanity's situation in different world regions and civilizations,[25] while allowing for modernity to show retrogressive Jacobin tendencies," and even in advanced democracies, "reigns of terror."

Second, in the same year as a group of admirers of Sorokin's sociological work brought out a memorial volume,[26] Samuel Huntington published, in the wake of the vacuum in world politics arising from the end of a clashing bipolar world, a new perspective with a focus on an emergent "clash of civilizations."[27] As background for his thesis of the emergent zero-sum world order being in the hands of a small number of "civilizations" as key contestants, replacing individual nation-states, he discussed earlier theories of civilizations, includ¬ing those of Sorokin. Huntington took the core of civilizations to be competing religious values. In 1996, his thesis was unfortunately vividly illustrated with the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the ensuing tripartite decimation of Bosnia-Herzegovina into deadly conflicts between Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims. The academic controversies generated by The Clash of Civilizations received a much greater boost with the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attack on the United States and later terrorist jihadist attacks in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere, which seemed to demonstrate the salience of his analysis. It would be beyond the intention and capability of this author to assess whether the strained relation of "the West" to the "Islamic world" is momentary or part of a longue durée that stretches back centuries.

Certainly, with the overall condition of the world being one making tor multiple processes of globalization that generate greater encounters and transfers—of people, of goods, of knowledge—there is a new dynamic to civilizations coming into contact with one another, changing and being changed by these encounters.28 A new reading of Sorokin's writings on civilization as dynamic and interactive cultural wholes might thus provide some clues as to possible outcomes of these encounters.[29]

The theme of values was an ongoing concern of Sorokin. Although it is one very much in the conceptualizations of classical figures—Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel—it became an elusive, "dormant" concept when sociology espoused what was seen as "value-free" science. Together with its related field of "morality," the two became viewed with suspicion as an entry of the "irrational" or at least of subjectivity that could impair scientific investigations. Allowance might be made in the case of large-scale international survey research, such as that conducted by political scientist Ronald Inglehart,[30] but very few sociologists writing in post-Vietnam America—Bellah and his mentor Parsons were exceptions[31]—ventured into normative evaluations. However, in the new century, with the stimulus of sociological theorizing by Hans Joas,[32] a new generation of sociologists are resuming empirical research and theorizing on values and morality, and this in mainstream departments.[33] How does this bear on Sorokin?

Recall that in his "late" period of the 1950s he embarked on various works dealing with altruism and love.[34] He saw this as a barren field of research in the dominant Western social science, which concentrated on "a study of the negativistic and pathological types of human beings and human actions" (Sorokin 1950:4). By contrast, he devoted his energies to studying the characteristics of altruistic persons, such as good neighbors and Christian saints as role models.[35] Instead of negativism, relativism, and hedonism as dominant emphases, Sorokin saw doing good for others and for the collectivity as an equally important feature of the human condition, expressed in different kinds of social relationships.

Fifty years ago, this might have strained social ears as a mere echo from a pulpit. But today, pro-social behavior has had the equivalent of a multi-source "great awakening." One is from theorizing and research in psychology and the study of personality, at multiple levels of analysis.[36] Avoiding the reductionism of previous dominant perspectives, sociologists Margaret Archer and Christian Smith have separately provided important dynamic analyses of human nature: Archer with her emergence of embodied selfhood drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty In repudiating instrumental rationality and Smith with his equally emphatic perspective on the emergence of personhood, drawing from Emmanuel Mounier's philosophy of personalism.[37] What is common in their view of the self is an ontological openness to others different from Instrumental rationality (as the model of rational choice would have it); being human entails having a moral dimension related to being with others. This is expressed by Smith as "Self-fullness is thus achieved in part by selflessness. By giving to others... one also receives what is most important toward achieving one's telos" (Smith: 407).

Reinforcing these ways of looking at the human person integrally, the work of Martin Seligman in "positive psychology" in psycho-therapy, stressing health and happiness in healthy communities and institutions rather than sickness has a fit with Sorokin that I will shortly note.[38] The emphasis on caring for others, even at a personal cost has also carried into research on relationships of love and compassion, such as the various studies of Stephen Post and associates on "compassion love," taken as "caring with the intention of giving fullness of life to others."[39] Extending previous studies of altruism and caring is also shown in complementary studies of Pearl and Samuel Oliner, for example bearing on the Holocaust and who assisted Jews in wartime Europe.[40]

Second is the applied area of philanthropy, both domestic and overseas, as voluntary practices intended as a motivation to activate "the love of humanity" in its etymology. While doing good to others is ancient practice (as is, conversely, doing harm), contemporary philanthropy has become rationalized in various forms and organizations (such as foundations). It has had increased attention in the past quarter of a century to provide for "the public good" at home and abroad, as state organizations have had to curtail expenditures that were seen as part of the welfare state. To keep abreast of the philanthropic activities of individuals and foundations, The Chronicle of Philanthropy for years has tracked the contributions of the largest 400 not-for-profit organizations.[41] There are a number of centers for research on giving and voluntarism (such as Duke University's Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism). Voluntarism is of course related to altruism, since giving of one's time, especially in modern society, is an important mode of showing care for others.[42]

What is of particular interest here, however, is sociology's own recognition of the field of altruism and Sorokin's pioneering work.
The lead for this was undertaken by several sources. Jane Piliavin and H.W. Charng had canvassed the field of altruism in 1990.[43] In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Vincent Jeffries took the lead to bring together a group of scholars whose writings touched on altruism and Sorokin. They produced in effect a manifesto for sociology to join other disciplines in developing a "vital but understudied scientific field," one linking altruism and social solidarity.[44] Recognizing the need to bring together the various strands of research and conceptualizations into an organizational framework, they undertook to organize a new section of the American Sociological Association. With a considerable effort, this bore fruit in 2011 with recognition by ASA of a section, initially called "Altruism and Social Solidarity." In view of the significance of morality by a new generation of sociologists, it has been renamed the section on "Altruism, Morality & Social Solidarity." It is a forum encouraging inputs from a vast number of sociologists and other social scientists, in the United States and abroad, with an enlarged newsletter providing space for new research and new publications, including contributions from Russian sociologists participating in the rediscovery of Sorokin in Russia.

It is perhaps too soon to tell how this section, and the networks it encourages,[45] will impact the sociological mainstream. But it has and will provide a new generation of sociologists with a refreshing appreciation of the actuality of Pitirim Sorokin and his sociological "integralism."


1. Pitirim A. Sorokin, Leaves from a Russian Diary and Thirty Years After. Enlarged edition, Boston: Beacon Press, 1950; Pitirim A. Sorokin, A Long Journey: The Autobiography of Pitirim A. Sorokin. New Haven, CT: College and University Press, 1963; Elena Sorokin, "My Life with Pitirim Sorokin," International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 42 (January-April 1975): 1-27; Barry V. Johnston, Pitirim A. Sorokin. An Intellectual Biography. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1995.
It should also be noted that other Sorokin festschriften have appeared, a third published just a few years ago, nearly forty years after his death: Philip J. Allen, editor, P.A. Sorokin in Review. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1963; G. C. Hallen and Rajeshwar Prasad, eds., Sorokin a rid Sociology. Essays in Honor of Professor Pitirim A. Sorokin. Moti Katra, Agra (India): Satish Book Enterprise 1972. Elvira del Pozo Avino, ed. Integralism, Altruism and Reconstruction. Essays in Honor of Pitirim A. Sorokin. Valencia, Spain: Publicacions de la Universitat de Valencia (PUV). Bibliotecca Javier Coy d'estudis nord-americans, 2006 [ISBN 10-84-370-6454-6].
2. "Pitirim A. Sorokin (1889-1968)," pp. 465-508 in Lewis A. Coser, Masters of Sociological Thought, Ideas in Historical and Social Context, 2nd edition, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977; Joseph B. Ford, Michel P. Richard and Palmer C. Talbutt, eds., Sorokin & Civilization. A Centennial Assessment. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1996; Vincent Jeffries, "Integralism: The Promising Legacy of Pitirim A. Sorokin," pp. 99-135 in Mary Ann Romano, ed., Lost Sociologists Rediscovered. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.
3. Pitirim Sorokin, Society, Culture, and Personality: Their Structure and Dynamics. A System of General Sociology. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947.
4. Quoted in Johnston, 1995: 165.
5. Pitirim A. Sorokin, Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology and Related Sciences. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1956.
6. There is a significant overlap between them, briefly touched upon in Edward A. Tiryakian, "C. Wright Mills and Sorokin: Mavericks in the Citadel." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Philadelphia, August 2005; E.A. Tiryakian, "A Sociologist for the Twenty-First Century: Pitirim A. Sorokin," in Elvira del Pozo Avino, 2006: 31-41. Like Sorokin, Mills had at times a combative outlook and was a "self-proclaimed outsider," inveighing forcefully against America's immoral, war-prone "power elite." For a recent portrait of Mills see Stanley Aronowitz, Taking It Big: C. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.
7. American Sociological Review, 70 (February) 4-28.
8. P.A. Sorokin, The American Sex Revolution. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1957.
9. P.A. Sorokin and Walter A. Lunden, Power and Morality: Who Shall Guard the Guard¬ians! Boston: Porter Sargent, 1959, p. 104.
10. Arthur K. Davis, "Lessons from Sorokin," this volume, page 5.
 Sorokin gave a popular undergraduate course in the History of Social Thought, with a large enrollment justifying a teaching assistant. That is how I got to know him in 1953, and as he told me at a later occasion, so did Charles Tilly. Sorokin's lectures undoubtedly provided us serendipitously with stimulus for our respective interest in comparative historical change.
12. "It was Robert Merton who did most of the spade work for those parts of Volume II of my Dynamics which deal with scientific discoveries and inventions," (Sorokin in Allen, op. cit, p. 475).
13. As he discussed it in detail in "The Western Religion and Morality of Today," International Yearbook for the Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Religion: Theoretical Perspectives (I); 9-43. Koln und Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1966.
14. Appropriately, Duncan was recipient (with Peter Blau and Andrea Tyree) of the first ASA Sorokin Award for distinguished literature with the 1968 publication of their The American Occupational Structure, New York: Wiley, 1967). They readily recognized the pioneering efforts of Sorokin in dealing forty years earlier with social stratification (in his Social Mobility. New York: Harper & Brothers 1927).
15. "Sociology of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," American Sociological Review, 30, 6 (December 1965): 833-43.
16. http://www.glide.org/page.aspxFpids4l2.
17. Talcott Parsons, The Social System. New York: The Free Press, 1951.
18. Sorokin was as opposed to the use of the atomic bomb and nuclear armament during the Cold War as he was of civilian bombing in the Vietnam War (personal communication from Dr. Sergei Sorokin, August 10, 2012). His activities on behalf of peace efforts led him, in the 1950s and 1960s, to be placed under FBI surveillance (Mike Forrest Keen, Stalking the Sociological Imagination. J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Surveillance of American Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999, pp. 105-121). Keen has separate chapters on Talcott Parsons and C. Wright Mills.
19. Alan Sica and Stephen Turner, eds., The Disobedient Generation. Social Theorists in the Sixties. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
20. See, for example, N. Makasheva, W J. Samuels and V Barnett, eds., The Works of Nikolai D. Kondratiev, 4 volumes. The Pickering Masters, London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers, 1998. For a Russian appreciation, see The Heritage of Nikolai Kondratieff: A View from the 21" Century in N.D. Kondratieff, The World Economy and Its Conjunctures during and after the War. Moscow: International Kondratieff Foundation, 2004 (ISBN 5-901640-17-9).
21. Most recently it was listed as a sponsor of "Rio+20," the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, June 2012.
22. http://www.prof.msu.ru/eng/actions/sorokin.html.
23. It should be noted, however, that the multidisciplinary International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations (ISCSC), whose first president was Sorokin (1961-1964), has been in continuous existence since 1961, bringing together humanists and social scientists. It has not drawn the same attention as ASA or ISA.
24. S. N. Eisenstadt, ed. The Origins of Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations, New York: State University of New York Press, 1986; Johann P. Arnason, ed., Civilizations in Dispute. Historical Questions and Theoretical Traditions. Leiden: Brill, 2003; Said Amir Arjomand and Edward A. Tiryakian, eds., Rethinking Civilizational Analysis. London and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004. See also Peter Katzenstein Civilizations in World Politics: Plural and Pluralist Perspectives. New York: Rutledge 2010.
25. See, for example, the special issue "Multiple Modernities," D&dalus, 129,1, Winter 2000, and most recently, Robert N. Bellah and Hans Joas, eds., The Axial Age and Its Consequences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.
26. Joseph B. Ford, Michel P. Richard, and Palmer C. Talbutt, Sorokin & Civilization. A Centennial Assessment, with a preface by Roger W Wescott. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1996.
27. Samuel P. Huntington, Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon 6V Schuster, 1996.
28. Mehdi Mozaffari, ed., Globalization and Civilizations. London and New York: Rutledge, 2002.
29. Edward A. Tiryakian, "Civilization in the Global Era: One, Many... or None?" in Said Arjomand, ed., Social Theory and Regional Studies in the Global Age. New York: Pangaea II: Global Local Studies, State University of New York Press, in press.
30. Ronald Inglehart and Paul R. Abramson, Value Change in Global Perspective. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995; Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, The Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cultural Change Around the World. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003; Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, Cosmopolitan Communications: Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
31. See Robert Bellahs The Broken Covenant. American Civil Religion in Time of Trial. New York: The Seabury Press, 1975. Parsons, Bellahs mentor, left an important theoretical fragment of what was to be a key chapter of his last major work: "Values and Other Structural Features of the Societal Community," Chapter 4 in his American Society. A Theory of the Societal Community, edited and introduced by Giuseppe Sciortino. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2007. For Parsons, "a value is a mode of relationship between actors and objects and does not... "inhere" in one or the other taken separately... Value... has inherently a normative reference... for actors who are members of the system of reference," pp. 141-42.
32. Hans Joas, The Genesis of Values. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
33. Seven Hitlin and Jane Allyn Piliavin, "Values: Revising a Dormant Concept," Annual Review of Sociology, 30 (2004): 359-93; Steven Hitlin and Stephen Vaisey, eds., Handbook of the Sociology of Morality. New York: Springer, 2010; Steven Hitlin and Stephen Vaisey, "Morality," Annual Review of Morality, 39 (2013), forthcoming.
34. Pitirim A. Sorokin, Altruistic Love. A Study of American 'Good Neighbors' and Christian Saints. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1950; The Ways and Power of Love. Types, Factors, and Techniques of Moral Transformation. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1954; editor, Explorations in Altruistic Love and Behavior: A Symposium. Boston: Beacon, 1954.
35. Keishin Inaba and Kate Loewenthal, "Religion and Altruism," in Peter B. Clark, ed. The Oxford Handbook of The Sociology of Religion. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 882.
36. L. A. Penner, J. E Dovidio, J. A. Piliavin, and D. A. Schroeder, "Prosocial Behavior: Multiple Levels," Annual Review of Psychology, 56 (2005): 365-92.
37. M.E. Seligman, "Positive Psychology, Positive Prevention, and Positive Therapy" pp. 3-9 in C. R. Snyder and Shane J. Lopex, eds., Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
38. Stephen G. Post, L. G. Underwood, J. P. Schloss, W. B. Hurbut, eds., Altruism and Altruistic Love. Science, Philosophy and Religion in a Dialogue. New York: Oxford University Press; Stephen G. Post, ed. Altruism and Health: Perspectives from Empirical Research. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007; Beverly Anne Fehr, S. Sprecher, L. G. Underwood, eds., The Science of Compassionate Love: Theory, Research and Applications. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
39. Pearl M. Oliner and Samuel Oliner, Towards Caring Society: Ideas into Action. Westport, CT: Praeger; S. P Oliner, Do Unto Others. Boulder CO: Westview Press, 2003. Besides his personal experience in being rescued from the Nazis as a child, Samuel Oliner has conducted extensive interviews on people who have helped others in various capacities to understand empirically their moral behavior. Altruism "ordinary" and "heroic" exists "in the psycho¬logically healthiest of individuals and is...of incalculable benefit to the community and society in general," http://www.ycsn\aga/.inc.org/issues/can-love-save-the-world/ordinary-heroes.
40. Margaret Archer, Being Human: The Problem of Agency. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000; Christian Smith, What Is a Person? Chicago: University Press of Chicago, 2010.
41. http://philanthropy.com/section/Philanthropy 400/237* Feb 2010, total contributions in the United States came to $70.3 billion dollars, down from a peak in 2008.
42. John Wilson, "Volunteering," Annual Review of Sociology 26 (2000): 215-240; Colin Rochester, A. E. Paine and S. Howlett, Volunteering and Society in the 21st Century. Basingstoke, UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
43. "Altruism: A Review of Recent Theory and Research" Annual Review of Sociology, 16 (1990): 27-65.
44. V. Jeffries, B. V. Johnston, L. T. Nichols, S. P. Oliner, E, Tiryakian, and J. Weinstein, "Altruism and Social Solidarity: Envisioning a Field of Specializaition," The American Sociologist (Fall 2006): 67-83.
45. Thanks to Pavel Krotov, executive director of the Pitirim A. Sorokin Foundation, websites are now available in English (www.sorokinfoundation.org) and in Russian (www. pitirimsorokin.org).