American Social Psychology


Fay Berger Karpf

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This work had its origin in the attempt to outline the development of social-psychological thought in this country. But since this subject could not be presented significantly in isolation, the work has gradually assumed its present proportions.

The study was begun in 1921 when the need for some such survey stood out glaringly, and it was completed in its original form in 1925. Since that time, the appearance of several shorter surveys, especially the chapter by Kimball Young in The History and Prospects of the Social Sciences, edited by Harry Elmer Barnes, has indicated the importance of the material and encouraged its revision and elaboration to its present form.

The treatment, except for some necessary background, has been confined to the development of social psychology as social psychology. Hence no attempt has been made to extend the background survey beyond the nineteenth century crystallizations of social-psychological thought. Also, the treatment has throughout been determined by the original interest in illuminating American social-psychological thought. This consideration explains many details of emphasis and procedure which might otherwise come into question.

The method of presentation decided upon as being best adapted to the accurate handling of the task in hand, in view of the very important role which personalities still play in the social-psychological movement, is a modified form of biographical exposition organized broadly, as a matter of convenience and in order to be able to reflect the development of American social psychology upon the background of European thought, along relevant national lines. This method has certain obvious advantages in providing natural classifications, which to the author seemed determining in the present state of social-psychological development. However, it also has, as would any other method, some definite limitations. There are thus certain other possible approaches to the consideration of social psychology and especially of social psychologists. Professor Faris has undertaken to suggest in the Foreword how some of them might be followed out with profit in filling out the picture here unfolded.

No claim is made for exhaustiveness of treatment in any part of this survey and certainly not in the European background. The treatment has necessarily been selective. Others might have varied the emphasis

( viii) and selection of material to be dealt with somewhat, but not materially, since the limitations of space to a single volume have made it possible to deal only with the high spots of recognized lines of influence.

Something remains to be said about the form of presentation adopted in this survey. For obvious reasons, it seemed highly desirable to present the crucial points in an author's position as far as possible in his own words. The superiority of this manner of presenting such material cannot be questioned and the method has been adhered to, in some instances even at the expense of smoothness and conciseness of exposition, especially in Part II of the survey. In Part I, it was naturally less feasible to follow out this manner of presentation consistently, but even there it was adhered to at especially important points.

The preparation of a work like this obviously places one under a many-sided obligation to authors, publishers, and others intimately connected with the work. Specific acknowledgments of indebtedness, especially in the first two connections, must necessarily be taken care of in the footnote and bibliographic references. But the author finds it necessary to make the following further acknowledgments:

First and foremost, the author is under obligation to the late Dean Albion W. Small and Professors Faris, Park, and Burgess of the University of Chicago, all of whom have at one time or another offered valuable suggestions in respect to the preparation of the manuscript. Professor Faris, in particular, has been intimately in contact with the work from the beginning. Not only was the work in the first instance carried out under his guidance, but he has maintained an unfailing interest in, the material ever since. In addition, he has read the entire manuscript on two different occasions. In the course of his contact with every phase of the work, he has made many invaluable suggestions which have in one way or another been adopted. The author welcomes this opportunity to acknowledge the important part which he has had in the planning of the work.

Professor Reuter of the University of Iowa, editor of the series in which the work appears, has likewise read the manuscript twice and he, too, has made invaluable suggestions which have been incorporated in the completed work. The author is particularly under obligation to him for his critical evaluation of parts of the material and for his expert editorial advice and assistance in the final preparation of the manuscript for publication.

Professor Louis Wirth of the University of Chicago has been very helpful in respect to the section dealing with German social-psychological thought. He not only directed the author's attention from time to time to important source materials, but he also read the entire section in proof.. While he did not completely agree with certain points of evalua-

( ix) -tion relevant to this section, his comments and especially references to the pertinent literature were extremely valuable.

Professor Moses J. Aronson, formerly of The Sorbonne and now of The College of the City of New York, has been similarly helpful in respect to the section dealing with French social-psychological thought. Not only did he read the entire section in proof but his comments regarding various details of treatment proved to be exceptionally helpful and encouraging.

The following graduate students of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago assisted in the collection of the original materials of this study during the early stages of the work: W. P. Meroney, Celian Ufford, Evalyn Cohn, Clifford Manschardt, Alison R. Bryan, William S. Hockman, Percy E. Lindley, Belle T. Pardue, Ada Davis, Frances Watson, Regena Beckmire. Grateful acknowledgment of their assistance is hereby made.

The author also wishes to acknowledge gratefully the help of Dr. Ruth Shonle Cavan of Rockford, Illinois, in assisting in the early set-up of the material and in later taking over the task of preparing the Index. Appreciative acknowledgment is also made of the assistance of Mr. George M. Wolfe, Research Assistant at The Graduate School for Jewish Social Work, who has read the entire page proof and assisted in the preparation of the bibliography. Mr. Jacob B. Lightman and Miss Ettarae Serlin, Research and Assistant Librarians at the latter institution, have likewise been helpful in the preparation and checking of the bibliography.

The author further wishes to acknowledge the courtesy of authors and publishers who have generously permitted the inclusion of quotations from their works. Acknowledgment of this is made specifically in connection with the quotations used, but the author feels this further acknowledgment is justified by the whole-hearted response of the publishers and authors involved.

Most of all the author is under obligation to Dr. M. J. Karpf for his invaluable aid in every phase of the work. No merely formal statement of indebtedness can possibly do justice to his contribution to the formulation, planning, and execution of the work.


March, 1932.


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