There is no question that Sorokin was a sociological giant, one whose pioneer studies The Sociology of Revolution, Social Mobility, Contemporary Sociological Theories, and of course, Social and Cultural Dynamics, to name just the most obvious provided basic frames for major sociological fields. But although an academic professor, he was also a prophet, one who felt his responsibility to decry certain conditions and behavior patterns of modernity, to warn of their consequences, and to seek or prepare us to go beyond the normative crisis of late modernity". (Edward A. Tiryakian)



The Overall Doctrine

To Sorokin, the process of human interaction involves three essential elements: human actors as subjects of interaction; meanings, values, and norms that guide human conduct; and material phenomena that are vehicles and conductors for meanings and values to be objectified and incorporated into a sequence of actions. Not unlike Max Weber, Sorokin (except during his early years as an apprentice sociologist) rejected any attempt to study human affairs without reference to norms, meanings, and values. "Stripped of their meaningful aspects, all the phenomena of human interaction become merely bio-physical phenomena and, as such, properly form the subject of the bio-physical sciences.'' Hence, in Sorokin's sociological thought the emphasis is on the importance of cultural factors, that is, of superorganic elements, as determinants of social conduct.

To understand personalities as subjects of interaction, and society as the totality of interacting personalities, one must bear in mind that they rest on a foundation of culture a culture that consists of the totality of meanings, norms, and values possessed by interacting persons and carried by material vehicles, such as ritual objects or works of art, which objectify and convey these meanings.

In analyzing components of social interaction, Sorokin distinguishes between unorganized, organized, and disorganized forms. He discusses various types of legal and moral controls and speaks of solidary, antagonistic, and mixed systems of social interaction, as well as of familistic, compulsory, and mixed (contractual) types of social bonds. Having elaborated these different types of social interaction, Sorokin then proceeds to classify organized groups in terms of their functional and meaningful ties. Here he considers different degrees of intensity of group interaction and the related closeness or slackness of ties between group members. Furthermore, he states that groups may be unibonded, that is, they may be based on one main value, (as is the case, for example, with religious, occupational, or kinship groups), or they may be held together by multiple bonds (as in the case of a nation or a social class). In addition, he states that both unibonded and multibonded groups may be either open or closed.

Specific Contribution to Sociology

From the letter to: Mother Olowienka, Feb 10, 1954

As to the enumeration of my specific contribution to sociology in brief they are as follows:

Systematic theory of social mobility, corroborated by an enormous body of empirical evidence. My monograph on Social Mobility still remains the only existing monograph in the field.

Logical and empirical consistent system of sociology as science. It is more systematic in its logical and empirical system than any other so sociological system of the past two or three decades.

Logical and empirical system of social and cultural dynamics, or of philosophy of history. This system has already entered the annals of History side by side with tha systems of Spengler, Toynbee, and a few others, as possibly the most significant contribution in this field.

Theory of social class, particularly of agricultural class and rural Sociology Discovery, formulation, and confirmation of the law of polarization Discovery, formulation, and confirmation of the law of fluctuation, governmental regimentation, and control.

Exhaustive study of the vital, moral, mental, religious, artistic, and other fields of .calamities and catastrophes.

A systematic theory of revolution and wars, together with the first empirical investigation of all wars and of the revolutions from the 6th Century B.C. up to the present times. My investigation of revolutions and their dynamics and causes regains still the only existing investigation of all the internal disturbances from the 6th Century B.C. up to the present time*

A thorough-going criticism of the fallacies in the existing sociological, psychological and other theories. 

First attempt at a scientific study of the phenomena of creative love. The enclosed leaflet gives you an idea about this phase of my work. Then in the volumes of my work there are formulated, and possibly discovered, several other uniformities in social and cultural life, but in a short letter these uniformities cannot be enumerated."

Major Writings on...

Social Stratification and Mobility

Social Mobility. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1927; Social and Cultural Mobility. Glencoe, HI.: The Free Press, 1959.

Sociology of Knowledge and Science

Contemporary Sociological Theories. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1928; Sociocultural Causality, Space, Time. Durham, N. C: Duke University Press, 1943; Society, Culture and Personality. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1947; New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1962; Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology and Related Sciences. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1956.

Philosophy of History

Social and Cultural Dynamics. 4 vols.New York: American Book Co., 1937-41; New York: Bedminster Press, 1962. Abridged, one-volume edition. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1957; Crisis of Our Age. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1941; Social Philosophies of an Age of Crisis. Boston: Beacon Press, 1950. New York: Dover Publications, 1963.
Social Change Social and Cultural Dynamics. 4 vols.New York: American Book Co., 1937-41; New York: Bedminster Press, 1962. Abridged, one-volume edition. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1957; Russia and the United States. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1944; Reconstruction of Humanity. Boston: Beacon Press, 1948; Power and Morality (with Walter A. Lunden). Boston: Porter Sargent, 1959.

War and Revolution

Leaves from a Russian Diary. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. 1924; Boston: Beacon Press, 1950; Sociology of Revolution. Philadelphia and London: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1925; Man and Society in Calamity. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1942.


Altruistic Love: A Study of American Good Neighbors and Christian Saints. Boston: Beacon Press, 1950; Explorations in Altruistic Love and Behavior (symposium). Boston: Beacon Press, 1950; The Ways and Power of Love. Boston: Beacon Press, 1954; Forms and Techniques of Altruistic and Spiritual Growth (symposium). Boston: Beacon Press. 1954.

Public Sociology

Crisis of Our Age. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1941. S. O. S.; The Meaning of Our Crisis. Boston: Beacon Press, 1951; The American Sex Revolution. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1957.

Early Writings

Prestuplenie i kara, podvig i nagrada (Crime and Punishment, Service and Reward). St. Petersburg: isdatelstvo Dolbysheva, 1913. L. N. Tolstoi, kak filosof (Leo Tolstoi as a Philosopher). Moscow: isdatelstvo Posrednik, 1915. Problema sozialnago ravenstva (The Problem of Social Equality). St. Petersburg: isdatelstvo Revoluzionnaia Mysl, 1917. Pracheshnaia Tchelovecheskikh dush (Laundry of Human Souls, science fiction). St. Petersburg: Ejemesiachnyi Journal, 1917. Uchebnik obschetj teorii prava (General Theory of Law). Iaroslavl: isdatelstvo Iaroslavskago Soyuza Koopcrativov: 1919. Obschedostupnuy uchebnik soziologit (Elements of Sociology). Iaroslavl: isdatelstvo Iaroslavskago Soyuza Kooperativov, 1920. Sistema soziologii, 2 vols. (A System of Sociology). St. Petersburg: isdatelstvo Kolos, 1920. Golod kak factor (Hunger as a Factor). St. Petersburg: isdatelstvo Kolos, 1921 (destroyed by the Soviet government). Sovremennoie sostoianie Rossii (Contemporary Situation of Russia). Praga: Kooperativnoie isdatelstvo, 1922. Populamuye ocherki sozialnoi pcdagogiki i politiki (Popular Essays in Social Pedagogics and Politics). Ujgorod: isdanie Komiteta delovodchikov i narodnoprosvetitelnukh rad Pod-karpatskoi Rusi, 1923.