If the emphasis he stressed had been continued, rural sociology today might be more theoretically sophisticated than it is". (Harold F. Kaufman)

Rural Sociology in America

...Because of its historical roots, rural sociology has been an active participant in two conflicting social policies derived from the opposing views of rural society in social thought. The institutional separation of rural sociology from sociology, its organizational location in colleges of agriculture, and its functional integration with cooperative extension have given American rural sociology a strong attachment to technologically driven modernization. For many of its institutional sponsors, whose primary goal has been the technological advancement of agriculture, the predominant justification for supporting rural sociology research has been its presumed ability to enhance the process of modernization of rural society.

Two important consequences have followed from this sponsorship. First, the research agenda of rural sociology has been significantly influenced by politicians and administrators of colleges of agriculture and agricultural experiment stations. Thus, American rural sociological research has tended to be driven primarily by the need to be ''useful'' in solving practical problems involved in transforming rural society. Second, theoretical development within rural sociology has atrophied. Theoretical work that may contradict the prevailing social policy dogma and thereby threaten its financial and institutional support has been particularly uncommon. Thus, the practice of American rural sociology has been part of an explicit social policy of transforming rural society (Newby 1980).

The opposing cultural theme portrays rural society as a way of life that is superior to existence in the cities and threatened by urban industrial capitalism (Sorokin and Zimmerman 1929). It has protagonists within rural sociology and in society for whom the problem is how to preserve the wholesome qualities of rural society against the encroachments of urban industrial capitalism (e.g., how to avoid community disintegration, loss of local autonomy, the collapse of the family farm, the decline of the traditional rural way of life, degradation of the rural landscape, and depletion of nonrenewable natural resources). These Jeffersonian values of community, individualism, family entrepreneurship, and grass-roots democracy inspire private and public sponsorship of many rural sociological endeavors (Gilbert 1982). Thus, American rural sociology has been significantly involved in two explicit and conflicting social policies. First, it has contributed to positivistic social science by providing the basic descriptive information about rural populations, institutions, and social processes that have guided the development of programs to transform rural society. Second, it has served those committed to preserving selected elements of rural society, a practice that often is perceived by agricultural administrators and proponents of technological innovations as creating barriers to progress.

from: http://edu.learnsoc.org/Chapters/2%20branches%20of%20sociology/22%20rural%20sociology.htm



T. Lynn Smith. Sorokin's Rural-Urban Principles. 

Pitirim Sorokin in Review. Edited by Philip J. Allen. Duke University Press, Durham, 1963. [pp.188-203]

Professor P. A. Sorokin, more than any other man, has influenced the nature and content of the systematized body of knowledge that today is designated as rural sociology or the sociology of rural life. This will be readily apparent to anyone who will take the trouble to trace the development of this science in the United States; and it probably is even more true with respect to the scope, content, and method of rural sociology in other parts of the world. Such an achievement might well be a source of great satisfaction to a scholar who had devoted his entire life to the building of a scientific disci­pline, but it becomes all the more remarkable in view of the fol­lowing facts. Although Sorokin, along with other noted sociologists such as William F. Ogburn, consistently used rural-urban compari­sons as a fruitful way of securing meaningful understanding of social phenomena, for only three or four years of his long, productive career was the specific study of rural society his principal work; and probably never was rural sociological research included among the activities for which he was paid all or even a part of his salary. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the royalties he received from his now classic books in the field ever totaled more than a fraction of his own out-of-pocket expenses in connection with their production. His rewards were satisfaction with the successful personal execu­tion of important tasks and that which comes to the great teacher who lives to see his own students, the students of his students, and even the third generation of his "intellectual descendants" construc­tively building upon the foundations he has laid.

I. The Setting: The University of Minnesota

Befriended by Professor E. C. Hayes of the University of Illinois and Professor E. A. Ross of the University of Wisconsin, Sorokin lectured briefly at these institutions following his arrival in the United States in November, 1923; and then, in 1924, he secured a position as professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, where lie remained until 1930, when he moved to Winchester, Massachusetts, and became chairman of Harvard University's new department of sociology. It was during these last four years at Minnesota and while he was carrying a full-time teaching load that Sorokin produced (in collaboration with Carle C. Zimmerman) the Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology1and (in collaboration with Zimmerman and Charles J. Calpin) the three-volume work A Sys­tematic Source Book in Rural Sociology,2These are the now classic works which contain the systematic exposition of his principles of rural sociology. It also was during the last four years of his work at Minnesota and the early part of his career at Harvard that he stimulated so greatly and trained the small corps of highly selected graduate students which has had such a large hand in developing the scientific study of rural society.

According to E. C. Hayes, Sorokin's principal motive in coming to the United States was "to study the cultural and economic organi­zations of farmers" in this country during the years following his banishment from Soviet Russia and while he and other refugees were "preparing to take part in the reorganization of Russia when it is possible for them to return."3 Even so, during his first four years in the United States the tasks connected with a full-time teaching load and the writing and publishing of Leaves from a Russian Diary,4 Sociology of Revolution5, Social Mobility6and Contemporary Soci­ological Theories7must have left him comparatively little time for concentrated study of rural society in the Midwest and other parts of the United States.

While Contemporary Sociological Theories was in press (in 1927), Sorokin, collaborating with Carle C. Zimmerman, then as­sistant professor of sociology and rural sociology at the University of Minnesota, threw himself enthusiastically into the preparation of the manuscript of a systematic treatment of the field of rural sociology. When the present writer arrived in Minneapolis, in July, 1928, to begin graduate work in sociology, that manuscript was complete. However, "it was so long that it could not be published in one volume."8 Fortunately for the development of rural soci­ology, though, at about tins time Dr. Charles J. Galpin, then Chief of the Division of Population and Rural Life in the U. S. Depart­ment of Agriculture, sought to enlist the co-operation of Sorokin and Zimmerman in the preparation of a comprehensive three-volume source book for rural sociology. The expression "fortunate­ly" is used because from daily personal contacts in the fall of 1928, the present writer knows that during the impasse which developed when die manuscript proved to be too voluminous, and the making of the arrangements for the Source Book taxing, Sorokin already was well along with the preparation of a volume on The History of Social Thought. As it was, though, Sorokin's primary atten­tion was not diverted from a study of the sociology of rural life late in 1928, but continued through 1929 and 1930, or until the organization of the department of sociology at Harvard University and the beginning of work on Social and Cultural Dynamics9mo­nopolized his time and attention.

II. Objectives

In the preface to their Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology Sorokin and Zimmerman stated specifically the five ways in which they sought to make their book different from existing texts in rural sociology, and since to a considerable degree these endeavors served to orient the future development of the field, they deserve specific mention. They are as follows:

First, it tries to be a rural sociology and not a mere collection of various data pertaining to aspects of rural life and rural communities. . . .It is certain that we use such data extensively, but not, so to speak, for their own sake: they are taken and used in intercorrelations with other social phenomena and serve only as "bricks" for the construction of more complex, general and sociological formulae of functional rela­tionships and interrelationships.
Second, the book does not try to "preach" and does not bother itself with any evaluations of what is good and bad in rural fife. . . . Likewise, the book does not stress "the sympathetic attitude" of the authors re­garding rural life. ...
Third, the courses in rural sociology in this country (in other coun­tries such courses hardly exist) have been dealing almost exclusively with American data and have not touched the data of other countries. This present book tries to base its conclusions on the existing data of almost all countries. . . .
Fourth, several problems which have already been well studied and in which the conclusions reached are relatively certain, are only briefly summarized. . . .
Fifth, for all those who like "all embracing, clearly cut, and sweeping generalizations," easy to remember and thrilling in their universality, simplicity, and "rectilinearity" this book may appear somewhat disap­pointing. . . . we are convinced that a scientific text is not a "detective story"; and that a student of any science must take some pains to learn it. . . . We are not writing a "best seller" but a scientific study."

Later, in the preface to A Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology, Sorokin and Zimmerman, along with Galpin, were equally explicit in stating their determination to help make the discipline of rural sociology more comprehensive, more scientific, and less pro­vincial. Note especially the following statements from the pre­amble to that classic work:

The editors have been moved by the following considerations: Human society throughout its history—its origins, forms, activities, proc­esses, growth, evolution—has been so largely under the pressure of agricultural and rural forces that up to the present sociology as a science of society has virtually been the sociology of rural fife. A world view of the sociology of rural life is important for the development of the science. . . . There is need that the content of rural sociology . . . should contain facts of indubitably sociological character. There is need in the textual organization of the facts of rural sociology for a resolutely scien­tific methodology. In the training of American rural sociologists there is need for a broad acquaintance with the rural sociological thought and theory of Europe and Asia. And, finally, in this era of American teach­ing, research, and extension of rural sociological facts and theory and in tins period of experimental agrarian legislation, a systematic source book world-wide in scope is timely."

Of course there still lingers today, at a time when mankind already is well within the portals of the atomic age, much of the provincial­ism that Sorokin and his associates were trying to replace. In 1962, as in 1930 when Sorokin, Zimmerman and Galpin surveyed the scene, many of the "textbooks in rural sociology in America are still quite provincial, not even being developed on the geographic basis of the entire country." Even so, however, the charge that con­temporary sociology and sociologists are provincial, an accusation that since 1950 has come with disconcerting frequency from men in the related social science fields, is not entirely justified; and certain­ly it is much less valid with respect to rural sociology and sociolo­gists specializing in the sociology of rural life than it is with refer­ence to sociology and sociologists as a whole. In this connection, therefore, it is important to recall that more than any other man, Sorokin deliberately sought to enlarge the mental horizons of those working in the field and to promote the comparative studies of rural societies by those engaged professionally as rural sociologists.

III. Sorokin's Share in the Work

Because the two works in which Sorokin's principles of rural sociology appear both were prepared in collaboration with other authors, it is essential to identify specifically the portions of those books for which he personally was responsible. Fortunately this is easily done, because in the preface to the Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology and also in that to A Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology the portions for which each author was responsible have been clearly identified. Thus of the twenty-seven chapters in the Principles the sixteen chapters written by Sorokin are as follows:

I. Definition of Rural and Urban Sociology

II. Definition of Rural and Urban Worlds

IV. Bodily Differences between the Urban and Rural Popula­tions

V. Comparative Health of Rural and Urban Populations

VI. Predominant Diseases of the City and the Country

VII. Rural-Urban Suicides

VIII. Comparative Longevity, and Mortality of the Rural and Urban Populations

XIII. The Experience Worlds and Psychological Processes of the Rural-Urban Populations

XV. The Rural and Urban Family

XVI. Comparative Criminality, Immorality, and Intemperance

XVII. The Role of the City and the Country in Innovation, Dis­ruption, and Preservation of the National Culture

XVIII. Rural-Urban Religious Culture, Beliefs, and Convictions

XX. Agricultural Classes and Political Regimes

XXI. Rural-Urban Arts and Esthetic Culture

XXII. Farmer-Peasant Attitudes of Individualism and Collectivism

XXVII. Retrospect, Present Situation, and Prospect.

In addition, he and Zimmerman jointly were responsible for three other chapters, namely:

III. The Status of the Farmer-Peasant Class Among Odier Social Classes

XIV. Sources and Theories Concerning the Psycho-Social Traits of Farmers and Peasants

XIX. Political Culture, Attitudes, and Behavior of Rural Groups.

Even greater was Sorokin's part of the responsibility for the contents of the Source Book, as is stated explicitly in the following extract from its preface:

It should be stated also that most of the introductions, selections and systematization of the material and, in general, the greater part of the work of the Source Book were done by Professor Pitirim Sorokin.

Elsewhere the present writer has attempted to sketch the nature of the original contributions made by Sorokin in the preparation of the Source Book, and in the interest of brevity these comments are reproduced here:

[The Source Book] is in no sense a "scissors and paste job." It is true that liberal extracts are presented from the writings of great thinkers in all countries and all ages along with substantial parts from the contri­butions of twentieth-century sociologists. But most of these were trans­lated into English and then they were presented only after the setting of each chapter was carefully prepared by original expositions giving the basic frame of reference, classifications, and discussion of variations in time and space. Nor are the topics limited to those treated earlier in the Principles. In Volume I, for example, Chapter I, with the introduction and the materials from ancient Oriental, Greek and Roman sources, went over ground previously untouched in rural sociological literature; and the same is true of Chapter II, devoted to a "History of rural sociology: fourteenth to nineteenth centuries." Here, thanks to Sorokin's depth of knowledge of social thinkers of all ages, the ideas and theories of the great thinkers from Ibn Khaldun, to John Graunt, and to Alexander Hamilton came into the arena of rural sociological theory. Furthermore, except for Chapter III, which is largely a repetition of Chapter II of the Principles, all of Volume I is occupied with what then were new and challenging aspects of the subject matter of rural sociology. Chapter V, "The ecology of the rural habitat," and Chapter VI, "Differentiation of the rural population into cumulative communities and functional associa­tions," opened up new and challenging vistas to the men then working in the field. Chapters VII and VIII, devoted to social stratification and social mobility, respectively, did much to make these highly important subjects integral parts of rural sociology, some years before they gained comparable status in general sociology or in urban sociology.

In Volume II, also, the portion of the work devoted to "Rural social organization in its institutional, functional, and cultural aspects," the chapters dealing with the family, education, social control, religious organization and culture, and aesthetic and recreational organization helped greatly to advance these aspects of the general field. Volume III closely follows the subject matter and outline of the Principles, although even here die additional wealth of material contributed greatly to under­standing of differences between the physical traits and health of rural and urban populations, vital processes, intelligence and migration.

In its entirety, a careful study of the book is still a must for all those wishing to achieve professional competency in the field of rural soci­ology.10

IV. Significance for the Development of Rural Sociology

In the work just cited the present writer has attempted to assess the importance of the publication of Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology and A Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology in the development of rural sociology as a scientific discipline.11 There the work of building the new discipline was divided into four epochs or stages, as follows: the period of genesis, to 1920; a decade of progress, 1920-29; the period of maturation, 1930-45; and develop­ments and trends, 1945-56. In this schema Sorokin's contribution to die development of the principles of rural sociology came as the culmination to the work during the second period and a major stim­ulus to that in the third. The following paragraphs are the ones in which an attempt was made to place these fundamental contribu­tions in perspective:

Finally, the decade 1920-29 was the one in which efforts at synthesis got underway in earnest. This difficult work began on a small scale with the preparation of Gillette's new book on Rural Sociology. It was advanced considerably when in 1926 Taylor published the first edition of his Rural Sociology, and with the appearance of the first edition of Sims' Elements of Rural Sociology in 1928. The culmination came in 1929 with the publication of The Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology by Sorokin and Zimmerman, followed within a few years by the ap­pearance of the three volumes of the Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology by Sorokin, Zimmerman, and Galpin. The work of preparing these books brought to bear upon the field of rural sociology, in a long concerted effort, the ingenuity of Sorokin and his vast knowledge of European society and sociology, and Zimmerman's genius, determination, drive and mastery of developments on the American scene. Rarely have such extraordinarily able representatives of two such diverse currents of thought been brought together to work intensively side by side for a period of five or six years. The result was the finest synthesis of the field of rural sociology achieved to date.

The years 1930 to about 1945 may be characterized as the ones in which die discipline of rural sociology came of age. During the first few years of this period, the difficult work of synthesis was the out­standing feature, the appearance of the Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology being the chief event.12

These extracts, along with a few brief excerpts from the annota­tions in the bibliography, also adequately express the present writer's evaluation of the importance of Sorokin's contributions to rural sociology. Thus the annotation commenting upon the Principles opens with the following sentence: "This volume constitutes one of the principal landmarks in the development of rural sociology"; and that pertaining to the Source Book indicates that along with the work just mentioned, "this three-volume set represents the greatest work of synthesis as yet achieved in the field of rural sociology."13

After the appearance of Sorokin's Contemporary Sociological Theories in 1928 it was fairly easy for sociologists in the United States to gain a passing acquaintance with the works and ideas of those in other countries who had contributed most to theory and method in the scientific study of society. Nevertheless, for sociolo­gists in general and rural sociologists in particular the manner in which Sorokin wove the principles developed by European soci­ologists into his own systematic exposition of the principles of rural sociology was of great utility. This alone advanced by several decades the date at which the tested results of scholarship in other lands would form an integral part of rural sociology in the United States. Prior to 1929 and the publication of the Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology rural sociologists in this country rivaled their fellows in other branches of sociology in the degree to which they were unaware of the writings and ideas of their fellows abroad. Prior to this date few of them gave evidence of being acquainted with the work of any of the following: Emile Durkheim, Frederic Le Play, Ferdinand Toennies, Leopold von Wiese, Ibn Khaldun, R. Livi, E. G. Ravenstein, James G. Frazer, Max Weber, John Graunt, A. Meitzen, Vilfredo Pareto, Frederic Seebohm, Max Sering, Werner Sombart, L. T. Hobhouse, and Edward Westermarck, to mention only some of the more important names. Indeed the books and other publications by rural sociologists gave little indi­cation that they were familiar with the fundamental contributions made to the sociology of rural life by such noted U. S. sociologists as William F. Ogburn, Howard W. Odum, Florian Znaniecki, W. I. Thomas, and G. E. Howard. After Sorokin had drawn heavily on these and, to a lesser degree, upon the works of hundreds of others in his own great work of synthesis, however, several of those pre­paring the textbooks and other compendia dealing with rural soci­ology leaned heavily upon the original works of these scholars; and it is evident that this was not done merely by relying upon the summaries of their studies which are conveniently available in Contemporary Sociological Theories and other books14. In this way alone, Sorokin achieved one of his stated objectives and thus con­tributed immeasurably to the reduction of the provincialism that characterized rural sociology in the United States at the time he was banished from Soviet Russia.

Perhaps even more directly and immediately, however, was the effect of his own exposition and use in the Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology of principles and concepts hitherto entirely unknown to or understood only vaguely by sociologists of all varieties in the United States. Little purpose would be served by listing all of these15. It is essential to include, however, some of the items for whose formulation Sorokin himself was largely if not almost exclu­sively responsible. Among these are the concepts of social space, and vertical and horizontal social mobility, the difference in social mo­bility in rural and urban areas, and the factors responsible for these differences. Closely related are his concepts of social stratification and his definition of social class, which he set forth explicitly in his book entitled Social Mobility and used effectively in analyzing the basic differences between rural and urban society. Even the most abbreviated list also should include Sorokin's definition of the social group, his elaboration of the differences between elementary and cumulative groups, and the manner in which he employed these concepts in the Source Book 16 to promote understanding of the structure of rural society.

It also is essential to mention specifically some of the concepts and principles of other scholars which made their way into rural sociology in the United States largely as the result of Sorokin's work as an author and as a teacher. In this category come such items as Toennies' dichotomy of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, Durkheim's mechanistic and organic social solidarity, Ravenstein's laws (of migration), and Livi's law.

Finally, in addition to the principles described in the following section, it is necessary to mention, even though briefly, some of the analyses presented by Sorokin in the two books under consideration in this chapter which still stand almost alone in the literature on rural sociology. They remain basic sources that must be consulted by anyone who desires understanding of the important matters they treat. Three of these are as follows: (1) the differences between the rural and urban social worlds analyzed and described in Chapter II of the Principles; (2) the history of rural sociology to the nineteenth century, Chapters I and II of the Source Book; and (3) "the differentiation of the rural population into cumulative com­munities and functional associations" which makes up Chapter VI of the same indispensable work.

V. The Durability of Sorokin's Principles

Because Sorokin's principles of rural sociology represented the work of synthesis at its best, the generalizations of others that he adopted and wove into his own work and those he formulated personally have stood the test of time in a high degree. Indeed, the large majority of them still retain a validity that makes the Principles and the Source Book, as earlier indicated, recommended reading for anyone who would aspire to professional competence in the fields of rural and urban sociology. This point is emphasized by a brief consideration of some of the basic principles which he set forth in his chapters in the Principles.

A. The psychosocial status of farmers. The fundamental gen­eralization on this subject, in a chapter whose authorship was shared with Zimmerman, is that the economic, occupational, and socio­ political status of farmers is fundamentally different from that of any of the urban social classes. In some respects farmers have basic interests in common with urban managerial and capitalistic groups, whereas in other fundamental respects their sympathies and actions are more closely tied in with those of the workers. For these reason the hopes for any lasting political alliance between farmers and those who work with their hands in the cities, such as was envisioned by those trying to promote a "Farm-Labor party" in the Midwest at the time Sorokin was writing, are doomed for disappointment. Although such movements are not entirely dead, in the United States and abroad, they appear to enjoy even less support among farm groups and labor groups alike than was the case in 1929. Indeed, Sorokin's generalizations with respect to the psychosocial status of farmers seem to be fully valid today.

B. Livi's Law. During the first thirty years of the twentieth century much was written (and read) about the bodily differences between rural and urban populations. Many studies had seemed to show that rural people differed from those who lived in cities in stature, weight, pigmentation, and the shape of the head, and the selectivity of migration versus environment was vigorously debated as a possible explanation of the asserted differences. Sorokin him­self set the problem as follows:

Are there some bodily differences between populations of the city and the country, taken as whole groups? If so, what are they? If so, to what are they due: to selection or environment or to both of these fac­tors? Much has been written about the topic. And yet, the problem is still definitely unsetded." [17]

Then he proceeded to a detailed analysis of the findings of the specific studies and the interpretations that had been placed upon them. This involved the presentation of a host of theories, some applying only to the study of stature, or weight, or pigmentation, or the cephalic index, and others to two or more of these character­istics. Finally, he generalized the findings as follows:

...we do not find any valid evidence that the cities attract particularly those who are tall, or heavy, or dark, or dolichocephalic, or with large size of heads and so on, or vice versa. . . . The fact of recruiting of city populations from more remote and different places than the population of die country, and the interpretation by R. Livi, explain the differences found much more satisfactorily than the hypothesis of "selectional selection." ... Correspondingly, the hypothesis formulated by many, but especially well demonstrated by R. Livi, remains the most important generalization in this field."[18]

As nearly as the present writer has been able to determine, Sorokin's use of Livi's principle here and in Contemporary Sociological Theories19 is the first time this important key to an understanding of an immensely complicated sociological problem was made avail­able to sociologists in this country. Moreover, in his classes Sorokin applied the same principle effectively in explaining cultural dif­ferences between city and country such as those in religious prefer­ences and affiliations, and for both purposes Livi's Law continues to be of prime importance today as it was in 1929.20 As a matter of fact the present writer is convinced that a familiarity with Livi's Law and an elementary knowledge of the social ecology of cities would have prevented the revival of Lombrosian theories of crime which emanated from Harvard's Department of Anthropology a few years ago.

C. The experience worlds of farmers. Using procedures compa­rable to those employed to arrive at the conclusion that Livi's Law is the principle which explains the observed differences in the physi­cal characteristics of rural and urban populations, Sorokin took stock of the evidence that had been accumulated with respect to the con­scious events which make up the sum total of the experiences of those who reside in the country and those who live in the city. All of this, on the basis of his analysis, he then classified into "direct experience," or that a person gains for himself, and "indirect ex­perience," or that not secured by face-to-face or personal contact with the phenomena. Next, he proceeded inductively to generalize that the experience world of tie farmer tends to be made up in large measure of direct experience whereas that of the person who lives in a city is secured for the most part in indirect ways.

... in the field of indirect experience the superiority belongs to the urbanite; in the field of the direct experience it belongs to the farmer. The city dweller knows everything from indirect sources; his mental vistas are broad; he talks about and can talk about the most different things. . . . But all of this is known to him quite superficially and in a fragmentary manner. . . . The farmer's outlook, from the standpoint of indirect knowledge, is much narrower; he often does not know anything that is going on outside of his county or province. . . . Nevertheless, in the field of direct experience, the farmer's share is rather better than that of the average "proletarian" with his very narrow field of direct and substantial dealing with realities."[21]

Finally, he developed several corollaries from these propositions, including the following:

...the farmer-peasant's mental luggage is more stable and less fluctu­ating than many attitudes and convictions of the city population, often based on an inadequate and overdeveloped indirect experience, which inadequacy makes many changes necessary in order to correct or to replace one attitude, opinion, or belief with another."[22]

If valid, these generalizations certainly represent some of the most important principles yet advanced in the study of the social psy­chology of rural life; and if not valid, in 1962 that fact remains to be demonstrated fully as much as was the case in 1930.

D. Rural-urban incidence of crime. Perhaps Sorokin's legal train­ing and experience in Russia made him cautious about conclusions relating to comparative criminality of die rural and urban popula­tions, but in any case he was far less certain in this respect than appears to have been true of many of his contemporaries. Exactly this reluctance to attribute great criminality to urban populations seems to have added durability to his principles. After a lengthy examination of the data he did conclude that the city crime rates "remain somewhat higher than in the country or among the agri­cultural population."23 Then, in accounting for the differences, he first dismissed as of little consequence the economic and educa­tional factors, admitted the possibility of selectivity of migrations between rural and urban areas, and attributed in a large measure the slightly higher crime rates in cities to differences in the rural-urban density of population, family and home life, psychosocial heterogeneity, and social mobility.

E. The city as the innovator and the country as the preserver of national culture. Sorokin saw in the city's demographic, social, and cultural heterogeneity the forces which make for change, and in the country's homogeneous and self-perpetuating population and social and cultural system the factors favorable to the retention of the established order. In brief the city is the innovator and the country the preserver of national culture.24 The facts he marshaled to demonstrate this thesis seem to have been sufficient to establish its validity, and the principle remains at the service of sociologists today. The present writer himself has found it useful in a variety of situations, ranging from the endeavor to introduce college stu­dents to the city's role in social change to an attempt to determine how mortality rates in Latin American cities compare with those in the rural districts.

F. The distinctive features of rural religious culture and expression. Among those who have sought to understand religious phenomena as they are expressed in rural areas, Sorokin is distinguished by the breadth as well as by the depth of his analysis. He devoted rela­tively little attention to the statistics of rural church membership, data about programs and Sunday Schools, facts relating to minis­ters' salaries, and similar features which figure prominently in many rural sociological works, but concentrated upon five principal ways in which he maintained the religious beliefs and practices of rural people differed from those of urban residents. First, he drew upon Livi's Law and stressed the importance of the "native" ele­ments in religious forms and expressions of country people, in con­trast with the features drawn from all parts of the world that are found as part and parcel of the religious heritages of the hetero­geneous masses who inhabit the cities. Second, as a result of the interaction of the diverse elements found in the city, changes take place, and these changes later on spread or are carried to the rural districts. Rural people, though, have a tendency to cling firmly to their old gods and forms of worship. In the case of the spread of Christianity (from Rome), for example, the rural inhabitants of the Italian Peninsula maintained their traditional religious culture so tenaciously that their name (pagan from paganus) became synony­mous with non-Christian, and a similar development took place in the British Isles where the term heathen originally meant nothing more than those who lived in the heather. Third, the agricultural setting of rural religion gives its various expressions a "coloration" quite different from that which surrounds the forms of worship in the cities. Fourth, rural religious beliefs and practices are less de­terministic, materialistic, and mechanistic than those that have been influenced by an urban and industrial environment. Fifth, rigidity, firmness, lack of relativism, and so forth, are characteristic of rural religious doctrines and behavior, whereas skepticism, so­phistication, relativism, and the like, are more characteristic of urban beliefs and practices.

G. The nature of rural radicalism. Because of his personal, in­tense interest in revolutions and revolutionary movements, Sorokin also delved deeply into the nature of rural radicalism and the rela­tionship of the agricultural classes to political regimes of various types. Far from asserting that rural societies are always con­servative and that rural populations tend to support the status quo, he indicated that at times rural society is radical to the extreme. This contrasts with the radicalism of the urban populations, though, in that it is more sporadic and less sustained, is less frequent and, when it does arise, it bursts like a thunderstorm. On the whole, socialistic and communistic tendencies gain little support among the farmers, and the agriculturists sometimes direct their activities against the laboring classes in the cities and at other times against the upper classes. Rural radicalism is centered about the possession and control of the land, and it is likely to erupt violently if situa­tions arise in which the farmers are threatened with the loss of their farms and homes. As a result, as mentioned above, over thirty years ago Sorokin gave little chance of success to the efforts, then wide­spread in the area in winch he was living, to establish a Farm-Labor political alliance or party; and the results since that time bear out the validity of his analysis.

VI. Teacher and Teacher of Teachers

From what has been said above, it should be evident that Sorokin's great influence upon the development of sociology of rural life was achieved through the publication of the two monu­mental works, namely, the mislabeled Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology and the Source Book. Of course the emphasis he gave to rural-urban comparisons and contrasts throughout his other books, at least one paper reporting on a project completed in Ins seminar on rural sociology, and the paper on rural religious culture which he presented at the 1928 meetings of the American Soci­ological Society played some part in relating his name to the study of rural social phenomena. But in addition to his two fundamental books devoted specifically to synthesis in the field of rural sociology, his work as a teacher was the principal way in winch Ins influence was exerted in the development of a science of rural society. This is not to say that any considerable amount of his effort was expended teaching courses, which carried the label of "rural sociology." Indeed the bulk of his time at Minnesota was devoted to teaching courses and seminars in the fields of sociological theory, the history of social thought, social organization, the sociology of revolution, and population problems, and only a small fraction of his teaching load was accounted for by the seminar on rural sociology for which he and Zimmerman were responsible; and at Harvard he did not even have time for the rural sociology seminar. Nevertheless, the small, highly selected corps of graduate students who trained as sociologists under his inspiration and direction, and then devoted much of their own lives to building—upon the foundations he had laid—a sociology of rural life, represent the second important way in which Sorokin influenced decisively the nature and development of rural sociology as a scientific discipline. Among those who studied with Sorokin at Minnesota or Harvard, or both, and whose names figure prominently in the annals of rural sociology since 1928 are the following: C. Arnold Anderson, Otis Durant Duncan, Fred C. Frey, Homer L. Hitt, Paul H. Landis, Charles P. Loomis, Bryce Ryan, Edgar A. Schuler, T. Lynn Smith, Conrad Taeuber, and Nathan L. Whetten.

There appears to be a widespread belief, at home and abroad, that some of Sorokin's students and teaching assistants have not been inclined to give appropriate credit to their teacher for the ideas and materials that eventually appeared in their published works. Be this as it may, it should be noted that none of the men enumerated above has shown any reluctance to acknowledge his indebtedness, in professional matters, to Sorokin's inspiration as a teacher and to his published works, a fact that will be apparent to all who will take the trouble to examine the publications they have produced. Furthermore, during the third of a century that has passed since Sorokin began work on the Principles, Sorokin's students themselves have trained considerable numbers of the men now prominent in rural sociology, and even those whose graduate work was directed by the students of his students are making significant contributions to the development of the sociology of rural life. All of this represents not a slavish copying or imitation, but earnest endeavor to test, modify, add to, and otherwise build upon in a scientific manner the principles of rural sociology formulated by Sorokin.


1. New York: Henry Halt and Company, 1929.

2. Minneapolis; University of Minnesota Press, 1930, 1931, and 1932.

3. "Editors Introduction" to Pitirim A. Sorokin, The Sociology of Revolution Philadelphia and London; J. B. Lippincott Company. 1925). pp. vii-viii.

4. New York: K. P. Dutton it Company, 1924.

5. Op. cit.

6. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927.

7. Now York: Harper & Brothers. 1928.

8. Sorokin and Zimmerman, op. cit., p. v.

9. Four Volumes. New York: American Book Company, 1937-1941.

10. T. Lynn Smith, "Rural Sociology: A Trend Report and Bibliography," Current Sociology, VI, No. 1 (1957), 42-43.

11. Ibid., pp. 1-75. See also, T. Lynn Smith, "La Sociologia Rural en los Estados Unidos de America y en Canada," Revista Mexicana de Sociologia, XX, No. 3 (1958), 817-42.

12. Smith, "Rural Sociology," p. 12.

13. Ibid., pp. 32, 42.

14. Note, for example, that one of the outstanding specialists in the sociology of rural life, Charles P. Loomis, is also the scholar who eventually was responsible for the translation and publication of Toennies' classic work. See Community and Society (Gemeinscltaft und Gesellschaft), translated and with an Introduction by Charles P. Loomis (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1956).

15. More to the point would be a series of doctoral dissertations on such topic: as the following: "The Roles of Social Stratification and Related Concepts it Sociology in the United States before and after the Publication of Sorokin's Socio Mobility:'

16. Chap. vi.

17. Principles, p. 101.

18. Ibid., p. 142.

19. P. 278.

20. Cf. T. Lynn Smith, The Sociology of Rural Life (3rd ed.; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953), pp. 87, 89.

21. Principles, p. 289.

22. Ibid., p. 290.

23. Ibid., p. 388.

24. Ibid., pp. 105, passim.

25. See T. Lynn Smith and C. A. McMahan, The Sociology of Urban Life (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), pp. 781-89.

26. T. Lynn Smith, "Diferencias Demograficas Rur-Urbanas en Latino-america,' Institute de Investigaciones Sociales, Estudies Sociologicos (Sociologia Urbana) (Mexico: Institute de Investigaciones Sociales, 1956), II, 19-20.

27. Mislabeled because, as mentioned above, the authors state specifically in the preface that they had attempted to prepare a textbook in rural sociology.

28. P. A. Sorokin, Carle C. Zimmerman, and others, "Farmer Leaders in the United States," Social Forces, VII, No. 1 (1928), 33-45.

29. For illustrations of this point, see, for example, the rural sociology texts prepared by members of the group: Paul H. Landis, Rural Life in Process (New York: The McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1940 and 1948); Charles P. Loomis and J. Allan Beegle, Rural Social Systems (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1950); Charles P. Loomis and J. Allan Beegle, Rural Sociology—The Strategy of Change (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hafl, Inc., 1957); and T. Lynn Smith, The Sociology of Rural Life (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940, 1947, and 1953).