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When Philosophy Met Social Psychology

An Interpretation of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 September 2018

Michal Kaczmarczyk
Affiliation:
University of Gdansk, Faculty of Social Sciences [wnsmka@ug.edu.pl].
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Abstract

The Polish Peasant in Europe and America is one of the foundational works of American and world sociology, famous for its innovative qualitative methodology. Its authors proposed new theoretical ideas, including a concept of social causality and a new theory of personality combining a biologistic concept of temperament with a culturalist concept of character. Interpreters of the book still disagree about the extent of each author’s actual contribution to the work and about its scientific status in light of modern sociological theories. This article claims that to understand the book one has to take into account the previous intellectual trajectories of both authors. As a theoretical dialogue between representatives of two contrary approaches, the work may serve as an alternative to the supposed theoretical “convergence” offered two decades later by Talcott Parsons.

Résumé

Reconnu pour sa méthodologie qualitative innovatrice, Le Paysan polonais en Europe et en Amérique, récit de vie d’un migrant est une œuvre fondamentale non seulement de la sociologie américaine, mais aussi mondiale. Ses deux auteurs proposent de nouvelles idées théoriques, en particulier le principe de causalité et la nouvelle théorie de la personnalité. Cette dernière combine deux concepts, à savoir : le tempérament biologique et la personnalité culturaliste. Les interprétations du livre ne sont pas toujours d’accord quant à la contribution réelle de chacun des deux auteurs au travail commun sur cette œuvre ainsi qu’à son importance pour des théories sociologiques contemporaines. Cet article montre que l’étude des chemins intellectuels précédents de William Thomas et de Florian Znaniecki est indispensable pour la comprehension de l’œuvre Le Paysan polonais en Europe et en Amérique, récit de vie d’un migrant. Étant un dialogue théorique entre ces deux auteurs représentant des concepts opposés, ce livre peut être considéré comme une alternative à la thèse de la convergence de Talcott Parsons apparue deux décennies plus tard.

Zusammenfassung

The Polish Peasant in Europe and America gehört zu den grundlegenden Werken der Soziologie Amerikas bzw. der Welt. Die neuen theoretischen Ideen der beiden Autoren vereinen sowohl ein Konzept sozialer Kausalität als auch eine neue Persönlichkeitstheorie, die ein biologistisches Temperamentskonzept mit einem kulturalistischen Charakterkonzept kombiniert. Die Rezensenten sind sich immer noch nicht über den jeweiligen Beitragsumfang eines jeden Autors einig. Auch über die wissenschaftliche Bedeutung im Rahmen der modernen soziologischen Theorien wird debattiert. Der vorliegende Aufsatz weist daraufhin, dass das Buch nur vor dem Hintergrund der intellektuellen Entwicklungen beider Autoren verstanden werden kann. Als theoretischer Dialog zwischen Vertretern zweier sich widersprechenden Ansätze könnte das Werk eine Alternative zu der zwei Jahrzehnte später erschienenen Konvergenzthese von Talcott Parsons darstellen.

Type
Rethinking the Classics
Copyright
Copyright © A.E.S. 2018 

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