Minggu, April 19, 2009
Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin
(Russian: Питирим Александрович Сорокин) (January 21, 1889 – February 11, 1968) was a Russian-American sociologist. Academic and political activist in Russia, he immigrated from Russia to the United States in 1923. He founded the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. Like C. W. Mills, he was a vocal opponent of Talcott Parsons' theories. He is best known for his contributions to the social cycle theory.
Supporting himself as artisan and clerk, he was able to study at the University of St. Petersburg and to teach sociology. Sorokin was imprisoned three times by the czarist regime of Russian Empire; during the Russian Revolution he was a member of Alexander Kerensky's Russian Provisional Government. After the October Revolution he engaged in anti-Communist activities, for which he was condemned to death by the victorious Communist government; the sentence was commuted to exile. He emigrated in 1923 to the United States and was naturalized in 1930. Sorokin was professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota (1924–30) and at Harvard University (1930–55), where he founded the Department of Sociology
His writings cover the breadth of sociology; his controversial theories of social process and of the historical typology of cultures are expounded in Social and Cultural Dynamics (4 vol., 1937–41; rev. and abridged ed. 1957) and many other works. He was also interested in social stratification, the history of sociological theory, and altruistic behavior.
Sorokin is author of books such as The crisis of our age and Power and morality, but his magnum opus is Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-1941). His unorthodox theories contributed to the social cycle theory and inspired (or alienated) many sociologists.
In his Social and Cultural Dynamics he classified societies according to their 'cultural mentality', which can be ideational (reality is spiritual), sensate (reality is material), or idealistic (a synthesis of the two). He suggested that major civilizations evolve through these three in turn: ideational, idealistic, sensate. Each of these phases of cultural development not only seeks to describe the nature of reality, but also stipulates the nature of human needs and goals to be satisfied, the extent to which they should be satisfied, and the methods of satisfaction. Sorokin has interpreted the contemporary Western civilisation as a sensate civilisation dedicated to technological progress and prophesied its fall into decadence and the emergence of a new ideational or idealistic era.
Sorokin's papers are currently held by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada where they are available for researchers and the public.
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