Sentiments and Activities: Essays in Social Science

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9780887387258: Sentiments and Activities: Essays in Social Science
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In the original edition of this book, presenting his collected papers from 1946 to 1962, George Caspar Romans observed that Sentiments and Activities represents "a dialogue between the data of social science and certain kinds of general ideas." In the introduction to this new edition, he reviews the interests which originally inspired the papers, and reconsiders the extent to which they achieved their purposes. He concludes that "first hand observation and interviewing are the place from which all good sociology takes off, even if it does not end there." The papers fall into three main subject areas: history and social structure; anthropology and function; and small groups, theories, and methods.

Many of the papers in the volume stand as models of the kind of sociology with which Homans is identified. In particular, his papers on small-group research and industrial sociology are classics. Others have had continuing histories. With the passage of time, Professor Homans is able to assess these consequences, and the new introduction reflects upon their impact.

Homans' research among white-collar workers ushered in a body of work on distributive justice now known as "equity theory." His paper on "Social Behavior as Exchange" also inspired a new field, "exchange theory." He laments missed opportunities in the failure of sociologists to exploit behavioral theory fully, abandoning the field to "rational choice" political scientists or economists. And finally, Professor Homans reconsiders the two longest papers in the volume, and two of his favorites, the historical study of the Frisians in East Anglia, and his study of unilateral cross-cousin marriage. In both cases, his arguments have stood the test of time, and stand as examples of the creative use of social science concepts across disciplinary boundaries.

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About the Author:

George Caspar Homans (1910-1989) was professor of sociology emeritus at Harvard University. He taught at the universities of Manchester, Cambridge, and Kent and is the author of The Human Group and Social Behavior along with numerous other works on social behavior and social theory.

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