What is Social Psychology ?

Robert M. MacIver

THERE seems to be considerable hesitation and confusion as to the meaning of the study which is rather inaccurately named Social Psychology. This paper is an attempt to clear away that con-fusion.


There is no social psychology in the sense of a study to be distinguished from " individual " psychology, as though the latter were concerned with the individual mind and the former with some greater mind somehow standing over against or else embracing individual minds. When we know all that is to be known about individual minds, there will remain no province of psychology left unexplored, and we shall have comprehended all the processes which the most esoteric of social psychologists can study. It would have seemed to the writer unnecessary even to state so plain a fact were it not that the contrary statement is explicitly made by distinguished psychologists. Thus Mr. William McDougall writes :

When the student of behaviour has learnt from the various departments of psychology.... all they can teach him of the structure, genesis, and modes of operation, of the individual mind, a large field still awaits his exploration. if we put aside as unproven such speculation as that touched on at the end of the foregoing chapter [the view of James that the human mind can enter into an actual union or communion with the divine mind], and refuse to admit any modes of communication or influence between minds other than through the normal channels of sense-perception and bodily movement, we must nevertheless recognise the existence in a certain sense of over-individual or collective minds. We may fairly define a mind as an organised system of mental or purposive forces ; and in the sense so defined, every highly organised human society may properly be said to possess a collective mind. For the collective actions which constitute the history of any such society are conditioned by an organisation which can only, be described in terms of mind, and which yet is not comprised within the mind of any individual ; the society is rather constituted by the system of relations obtaining between the individual minds which are its units of composition. Under any given circumstances the actions of the society are, or may be, very different from the mere sum of the actions with which its several members would react to the situation in the absence of the system of relations which renders them a society ; or, in other words, the thinking and acting of each man, in so far as he thinks and acts as a member of a society, is very different from his thinking and acting as an isolated individual.[1]

( 147) This passage contains two arguments in favour of the hypothesis of super-individual " collective " minds, neither of which can stand examination.

(1) The " definition" of a mind as "an organised system of mental or purposive forces " is totally inadequate. When we speak of the mind of an individual we mean something more than this. The mind of each of us has a unity other than that of such a system. 'When two of us enter into any arrangement whatever, there arises in some sort a system of "mental or purposive forces," or, more strictly, a certain relation of the purposive forces of each mind to those of the other. But why are we to call the inter-relation of " mental forces " a mind ? Does the system so created think and will and feel and act ? Does it perform a single one of those operations which we recognise as the work of that essentially active thing, a mind? If a number of minds construct by their interactivity an organisation "which can only be described in terms of mind," must we ascribe to the construction the very nature of the forces which constructed it ? That is surely impossible. Must we then, alternatively, postulate a mind which thinks the whole construction? In that case " collective mind " would think the whole structure of the collectivity of which it is presumably the subject; the " collective mind " of England, for instance, would think the whole complex structure of the English community. Unfortunately that greater mind does not communicate its thinking to individual minds, else they might learn directly from the subject what they comprehend only painfully and imperfectly from the study of that structure which is its hypothetical object ! Again, social organisations occur of every kind and every degree of universality. If England has a collective mind, why not Birmingham and why not each of its wards? If a nation has a collective mind, so has also a church and a trade union. And we shall have collective minds that are parts of greater collective minds, and collective minds that intersect other collective minds. But all these "minds" lack the integrity and isolation and unity of action which is essential to the very conception of mind.

(2) The second argument is an obvious fallacy. If each man thinks and acts differently as a member of a crowd or association and as an individual standing out of any such immediate relation to his fellows, it is still each who thinks and acts; the new determinations are determinations still of individual minds as they are influenced by aggregation. When sheep play follow-my-leader, we do not attribute the movement of the flock to a flock-mind. When men aggregate, especially as casual unorganised aggregations, each mind responds in' a peculiar way to this special crowd-environment, as it responds in a peculiar way to every kind of

( 149) environment. The environment changes with the response of each who forms a constituent of it, and that change in turn occasions a new response of each, and so on. Thus a peculiarly rapid process of mental change takes place in the members of a crowd. Each becomes to a degree susceptible and imitative. The mood of each is assimilated to that of each other. To the onlooker it seems as though waves of emotional agitation swept through the crowd. Each is less than himself, not surely because he has become part of a great mind, but because the effect of aggregation is to evoke in each a certain emotional response at the cost of rationality. There is no structure of organisation within which the individual can find shelter for his individuality against the overpowering cumulative influence of mass-suggestion and mass-imitation. But this is merely an extreme instance of the obvious fact that every mind is influenced by every kind of environment. To posit a super-individual mind because individual minds are altered by their relations to one another (as indeed they are altered by their relations to physical conditions) is surely gratuitous.

I have taken this extreme case because it is to such types of activity that men generally point when asked to exemplify the conception of " collective mind." Strictly speaking, it is no such thing. But it is interesting to note that this case which most suggests a non-individualised social mind forms one of the lowest and not of the highest social manifestations. It is the contagious psychical influence that moves a herd of buffaloes or a human crowd, the mood that responds to the waving of flags, the beating of drums, the shouting of the loud-voiced orator, the appeal of the impassioned extremist. It is the contagious psychical influence that carries a man out of himself, but rarely to a higher level, nearly always to a lower. It is an influence that nearly all students of society regard as evil, to be counteracted by education in self-control, the retainment of individuality.[2] The crowd is passionate,

( 150) stupid, merciless, and immoral. When its passion is just the crowd acts like a fool, when unjust, like a raging beast understands only the simple and clamant and spectacular. It can destroy, but it cannot create. It chooses a Barabbas before the Christ.

It is important to clear out of the way this misleading doctrine of super-individual minds corresponding to social or communal organisations and activities, and therefore it may be well to go a little deeper in our analysis. Strictly speaking we can hardly even say that, at least under normal conditions, minds or mental processes interact; they are rather interdependent, determined indirectly by the activities of other minds. Such determination is of two kinds; the more immediate, whereby symbolic communication—language, gesture, art—the thoughts and purposes of one mind are represented to others, and so affect the thoughts and purposes of others; the less immediate where each, by the physical operations through which its purposes are pursued, alters thereby the conditions under which others must act for the fulfilment of their purposes, and so indirectly alters their purposes and thoughts as well. The interests of all are thus interdependent; they harmonise so that they can best be attained for each through the co-operation of all, or they conflict, so that the attainment of his interests by one means the negation of the interests of others. In all community there is a vast complex of co-operative and competitive forces out of which spring, as resultant, its common properties, its customs and institutions. But to the resultant unity there need correspond no unity of mind. Often when we fail to perceive the complexity of the process from which social institutions or movements result, especially when they are hidden from us in the scantily-recorded life of the past, we readily resort to a simplified explanation, as if they were the direct expression of a single purpose. Our knowledge of the complexity of social processes in the present should make us wary of these conclusions.

But, it will be said, there are purposes common to many minds, and these express themselves as co-operant activity in the formation of common institutions. Certainly, and as will appear later, these common purposes are the first foundations of all society. Here it is necessary only to point out that the common or type element in many minds does not constitute a common or type mind in the sense of a super-individual entity. There is no more a great " collective " mind beyond individual minds in society than there is a great "collective" tree beyond all the individual trees in nature. A collection of trees is a wood, and that we can study as a unity; so an aggregation of men is a society, a much more determinate

( 151) unity : but a collection of trees is not a collective tree, and neither is a collection of persons or minds a collective person or mind. We can speak of qualities of tree in abstraction from any particular trees, and we can speak of qualities of mind as such, or of some particular kind of mind, or of mind in relation to some type of situation.[3] But in so doing we are simply considering the characteristic or like elements of individual minds, as we might consider the characteristic or like elements discoverable in individual trees and kinds of trees. To conceive, because of these identities, a " collective " mind as existing beside those of individuals or a collective tree beside the variant examples is to run against the wall of the Idea theory; it is to give a prima-facie obvious but demonstrably false answer to the haunting and unanswerable question : Can the identities we find in individual things,—type, stock, race, whatever the identity be,—exist only in conception or idea, while only the individual things themselves exist "in nature" ? False, because the answer is got by supposing the abstract to be concrete also, the attribute to be substance also; false because it is an attempt to image the invisible moulds of things in terms of the things moulded, to give to forms the qualities of substance in the mistaken belief that so they are rendered more comprehensible. Fortunately, the sociologist has no call to answer the real metaphysical question involved, since it does not arise in his sphere alone, and until men speak of the unity or activity of super-individual tree or animal or stone, we may well refrain from speaking of the unity or activity of super-individual mind.

Appropriately enough, the only thoroughgoing attempt to conceive a community in terms of a communal mind was made in the Republic of Plato.[4] But Plato did not think of a super-individual mind as existing beside or beyond individual minds; he rather regarded the minds of the members of a community as together constituting a greater mind like in every respect to the smaller. The community is " the individual soul written large." We can understand the microcosm of the individual if we under-stand the macrocosm of community, and vice-vers‚. If there are three parts of the individual soul, there are three classes of the community. As the parts of the soul are related to one another, so should the classes of the community be related to one another; as there is a reasoning part of the soul which ought to control the

( 152) rest, so there is a reasoning class of the community which ought to control the other classes, and as there is an appetitive and again a "passionate " element in the soul, so there is an appetitive and again a passionate class in the community.

If taken at all literally, this is both bad psychology and bad sociology. It is bad psychology, because you cannot " divide " mind into self-subsistent faculties. We think with our whole mind, feel with our whole mind, will with our whole mind. Reasoning, feeling, willing, perceiving, believing, desiring—these are all complex activities in which the whole mind, not mere " parts of it, is active. To speak summarily, each involves the predominance of an aspect, not the pure functioning of a part. And it is bad sociology, because you cannot make the classes of a community correspond either to aspects or to parts of mind. The analogy breaks down. You cannot have one class which merely or even mainly thinks, another which merely feels. (As it is, Plato's classes—the philosophers, the guardians, and the workers—do not really correspond to his divisions of mind into reasoning, passionate, and appetitive parts.) The great defect of any such conception is that it obscures the true unity of community. For classes so distinguished are related only by way of difference, each fulfilling its nature in contributing specifically distinct functions, like the separate parts of a machine each shaped differently to the service of an end not its own,—nor yet that of the whole machine.

The nearest approach to the fulfilment of such a conception would be some " aristocratic " state where classes become castes,[5] a state where unity rests, as it indeed rests for Plato, merely on a "justice" which sees that each part fulfils its own distinct function, "does its own business." For justice is a principle of partition, the assigning to each that which is his own and no one else's. Difference of function—in a narrower sense—is indeed essential within a community, but beyond the difference involved in external function there must exist, as we shall see, an inward likeness. Society is not simply or primarily the harmony of differences, but the union of likes. The likeness is ultimate, and therefore justice is not the deepest ground of social unity nor the completest social morality. It is only the superficial social relationships—and these only when fulfilled in a superficial manner—which rest on mere difference, as the relation of master to servant, employer to employee, buyer to seller. There the exchange of a quid pro quo may be all that is involved in the relationship. But in a true community the ruler makes laws for himself no less than for the governed to obey, the imposer of taxes imposes them on himself

( 153) as well; so the true priest confesses as well as hears confession, and the true doctor prescribes for his patient only what in like circumstances he-prescribes for himself. The relations of difference remain, but they imply an identity of nature in the members so related, a relation of likeness on which the relation of difference is founded. Likeness of nature involves likeness of ends and likeness of goods. Therefore you cannot split up a community into classes corresponding to distinct and exclusive elements, whether of mind or of anything else.

All community is a web of likenesses and differences, of what is common and what is diverse in the members of it. It is thus a system complex and wonderful beyond the understanding and the purpose of any (though not of all) of its members. But we must not invent a communal mind to think that greater system. The bonds of society are in the members of society, and not outside them. It is the memories, traditions, and beliefs of each which make up social memories, traditions, and beliefs. As a swarm of bees is held together in a physical unity through the physical adaptations of their individual bodies, so an aggregate of human beings is held together in a social unity through the social adaptations of their individual minds. Society like the kingdom of God is within us. Within us, within each of us, and yet greater than the thoughts and understandings of any of us. For the social thoughts and feelings and willings of each, the socialised mind of each, with the complex scheme of his relation to the social world, is no mere reproduction of the social thoughts and feelings and willings of the rest. Unity and difference here too weave their eternal web, the greater social scheme which none of us who are part of it can ever see in its entirety, but whose infinite subtlety and harmony we may more and more comprehend and admire. As a community grows in civilisation and culture, its traditions are no longer clear and definite ways of thinking, its usages are no longer uniform, its spirit is no longer to be summed up in a few phrases. But the spirit and tradition of a people become no less real in becoming more complex. Each member no longer embodies the whole tradition, but it is because each embodies some part of a greater tradition to which the freely-working individuality of each contributes. In this sense the spirit of a people, though existing only in the individual members, more and more surpasses the measure of any individual mind.

Again, the social tradition is expressed through institutions and records more permanent than the short-lived members of community. These institutions and records are as it were stored social values (just as, in particular, books may be called stored social knowledge), in themselves nothing, no part of the social

( 154) mind, but the instruments of the communication of traditions from member to member, as also from the dead past to the living present. In this way too, with the increase of these stored values, of which members realise parts but none the whole, the spirit of a people more and more surpasses; the measure of any individual mind. It is these social forces within and without, working in the minds of individuals whose own social inheritance is an essential part of their individuality, stored in the institutions which they maintain from the past or establish in the present, that mould the communal spirit of the successive generations. In this sense too a community may be called greater than its members who exist at any one time, since the community itself marches out of the past into the present, and its members at any time are part of a great succession, themselves first moulded by communal forces before they become, so moulded, the active determinants of its future moulding.

These facts we may gladly admit. They are of the very greatest import, but that import is wholly mistaken if we invent as the bearer of those great and secular traditions some mind that is other than and beyond the individual minds in whose interdependent activities they have in the past been born and in the present are being maintained.


I have dwelt so long on this false view because in more or less subtle ways, rarely expressed but often implied, it prejudices our study of social questions. It is responsible for the misleading antithesis which we draw between the individual and society, as when we ask the question, ultimately a meaningless one, whether we should prefer the welfare of the individual (not of some individuals to the welfare of society; it is responsible for those curious distinctions between the " actual " and the " real " will; of the community which enable some writers to preach autocracy} in the name of democracy[6] : it stands in the way of a true, appreciation of that intricate weaving of individuality and sociality which forms the not-to-be-unravelled web of life.

At this point it is necessary to clear away a second confusion. It is often said that social psychology and sociology are either wholly[7] or in great part[8] identical. This seems to the writer a mere mistake, but to reveal its nature one must answer no less a question than what sociology itself is !

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Sociology is often said to be concerned with social as distinct from individual phenomena. "What a man does without having learned from the example of another person, walking, crying, eating, mating, is purely vital; while walking with a certain step, singing a song, preferring at table one's national dishes and

partaking of them in a well-bred way, courting a woman after the manner of the time, are social." This passage from M. Tarde is quoted with much approbation by Professor Ross, who adds :

If the social is not the vital, neither is it the individual psychic. So we might add as supplement to Tarde : " When one fears the dark, delights in colour, craves a mate, or draws an inference from his own observations, that is merely psychic. But when one dreads heresy, delights in 'good form,' craves the feminine type of his time, or embraces the dogmas of his people, that is social. ' Social,' then are all phenomena which we cannot explain without bringing in the action of one human being on another." [9]

This is all very unsatisfactory and very confusing. Nothing a man can be or do is entirely uninfluenced by " others," and all we can rightly distinguish is the immediacy or remoteness of certain

influences. Society for every man is origin, atmosphere, environment, life. How can he think or be at all out of relation to society ?

Alike the expression of his organic needs and the expression of his inmost individuality take social forms. Why then should it be a social phenomenon to dread heresy and presumably not a social phenomenon to embrace heresy. Even were the heresy " anti-social," it would still not be non-social, since heresy no less than orthodoxy is a way of responding to a social environment. Or again, if a man fears the dark, why should that be " merely psychic" (whatever that may be) ? Has he not inherited the instinct from ancestors who knew good cause for fearing the terror by night ? Strangest of all is the statement that sexual attraction is not a social phenomenon. If a man craves a mate, is a craving which is itself the very foundation and beginning of all society, and owes its strength in each to an endless process of social selection, the less social because it is " vital " ?

The trouble is that in the world about us there are no facts which we can single out as social facts and thereby distinguish from others which are " purely " individual, or " vital," or "psychic." Whatever a living being thinks or does is, in one aspect, a social fact. For actions and thoughts are all resultants,

the responses of complex beings, having social origins and socialised characters, to conditions of environment themselves somehow and in some degree socially determined. Every man's character is personality woven of individuality and sociality; every man's

( 156) environment consists of his fellow men and the world of his fellow men. His actions and thoughts must therefore, every one of them, be in some kind and degree social phenomena. But we are not on that account compelled, as sociologists, to make our study comprehensive of all human thinking and doing. No one would argue that the moralist, because he finds that the moral factor enters into all human activities, must therefore study equally all human activities. As he abstracts, so must we. As he looks for the forms and laws of morality, so must we look for the forms and laws of that yet more extensive element, sociality.

Ruling out the hypothesis of group-minds we are quickly enabled to determine the main lines of social study.

(1) We may study the forms of likeness among individuals: Strictly speaking, however, sociology is concerned with the likeness. of individuals only so far as they involve or arise out of relations between individuals, groups in which the likes are brought together or whence the likes result. These groups or societies fall into two great classes which we may call the communal and the associational, according as the like qualities are those which determine a whole common life or those which determine merely a form of association within that life : a city, say, or nation on the one hand, a church, say, or trade union on the other. The members of a communal, group are alike to a certain extent in habits, temperament, traditions, modes and standards of life, sometimes also as being members of the same race or stock. The members of an associational group are like in respect of the specific interest for which the association stands, whether it be religious, economic, educational, political, artistic or so forth.

(2) We may study the forms of interdependence or even of difference, between individuals so far as these produce social relations, and the relations themselves so formed., Mere difference cannot create social relations of any kind, even by way of hostility, but complementary differences are the source of vastly important social unities, just as, antagonistic differences are the source of fundamental social opposition. Among social relations of interdependence we might name those of husband and wife, parents and children, teacher and pupil, governor and governed, employer and employee, buyer and, seller. The forms of interdependence increase continuously with' the development in every social sphere of the principles of the '"division of labour," and with the general differentiation involved in the whole process of civilisation.

(3) Along these lines of study alone we could never advance to an adequate knowledge of society. We can trace certain institutions to the essential likenesses of men and others to the essential

( 157) interdependence of men, but others, the greatest of all, are result-ants of too complex a character to come under either head, being built up by an endless process of adjustment out of the intricate combinings and crossings of men's interests and purposes. Of such a nature are systems of laws and rights and customs (as distinct from habits), the state-form itself, as well as the institutional forms of most associations.

We are now in a position both to distinguish social psychology from sociology, and to determine the true subject-matter of the former. Without attempting to define psychology in any precise manner we may say at least that it is concerned with the laws of the behaviour of mind. The difficulty would seem to be that we, in seeking to know mind, are seeking to know as object that which knows objects, that which functions only as subject in an indissoluble subject-object relation, that which is also the very knower who seeks to know it. In so far as we can know mind at all, it must be through some kind of analysis of its realisations in subject-object relations. Psychology, in other words, can study the mind only in its relation to its objects; but psychology is interested never in the object as such, always in the object as itself manifesting the character of the subject which perceives, thinks, knows, feels, or wills it. Where the object of mind is material (or physical) there is little danger of our confusing the sciences which study the objects of mind with the science which studies mind itself. But where the object of mind is in some special sense the work of mind, a grave danger arises, and here it is especially important to distinguish the science of the mental object from the science of the subject-mind, to distinguish, say, ethics, logic, sociology, and philosophy from psychology. The only object which the psychologist could study for it's own sake would be mind as object were it possible, as some psychologists seem to believe, for mind to be object, either to itself or to some other subject; and that object is totally different in character from what we call the `content' of mind, from the concept which is in its very nature object, not subject. The study of these concepts—for their own sake, in the systems which they form—is not psychology.

When therefore we study laws or customs or any social institutions, in order to attain a knowledge of these things, we are not psychologists but sociologists. Forms of association or community are in their nature objective things, just as truly as forms of speech or types of art are objective, just as truly as colours or sights or sounds are objective. They are what mind thinks, not what mind is. They reveal mind, being the stuff of its manufacture, but they are not mind, and their laws are not the laws of mind. Even the so-called laws of thought are not the laws of the behaviour of mind.

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They are laws of the behaviour of objects. "A thing cannot both be and not be "--that statement is about things, not about minds. Were it a statement of the behaviour of mind, we might suppose that if minds were different, a thing might both be and not be: but the same supposition is equally true or equally false in respect of every statement about things.

The confusion arises from the fact that some sciences may be regarded as throwing a more direct light than others on the nature of mind. Sociology in especial gives aid to psychology, just as psychology gives special aid to sociology. Human needs and purposes create social structures. What is it on which our attention is focussed? If the nature of social structures, as created by and as fulfilling men's needs and purposes, then we are sociologists. If the nature of mind as revealed in the structures which they have builded, then we are psychologists. Strictly speaking, we should here distinguish two branches of inquiry, one belonging to sociology, one to psychology, which might be called respectively psychological sociology and social psychology. Man's -activity as a social being, like man's activity in every sphere, throws light on the character of mind. Men cannot dig or build or analyse or philosophize without revealing their essential minds—still less can they enter into relations with their fellows without so doing. Men are not always digging or building or philosophizing, but all men are always revealing themselves as members formed within and active within a society. The study of these social relations is a sociological study, but it provides to the psychologist the data whence he derives psychological fact. Conversely 'the facts and laws which the psychologist discovers in many a field may well form data of much service to the sociologist. It would perhaps be pedantic, at the present stage of development, to treat as separate studies social psychology and psychological sociology, but we must remember, to avoid confusion, that there is this distinction of the point of view.


Following the lines of division of social study already suggested, we may finally point out the chief types of fact which are, from their different points of view, of interest at once to the sociologist and to the psychologist.

(1) The likenesses of men are the source of social relations and unities. Here a vast psychological field exists, in the study of types, race-types, class-types, association-types. For the psychologist the enquiry centres round the common characters of mind, mind in the race, in the nation, in the church, in this or that class of the community, leisure class, middle class, labour class, mind as

( 159) affected by occupation, the mental characteristics of the artist, the preacher, the scholar, the soldier, the shopman, the engineer, and so forth. For the sociologist the focus of inquiry is the social system or unity in which the type is co-ordinated. But the facts to which each must go are the same.

A further psychologico-sociological study within this field is that of the process of assimilation, the process by which men in society grow in like-mindedness. Certain parts of this study have been much advanced by the labours of M. Tarde and of Professor E. A. Ross.

(2) Difference is itself no more than likeness a sociological fact, but when it brings men into relations, whether by way of opposition or more essentially by way of co-operation, again a common field waits the psychologist and the sociologist. For the psychologist there is set the primary task of tracing the types of mental process involved in the relation so established, commencing with that phenomenon which makes of every novelist an amateur psychologist, the phenomenon of " love," and including the thousand forms of response made by every man to the presence and the overtures of his fellows. At this point we see very clearly how impossible it is, in a world where no man lives to himself, to distinguish in any scientific way a social psychology from an " individual " psychology. At least the greater part of the behaviour of each individual is somehow determined as a response to the presence and behaviour of others. But the province of, the psychological sociologist is clearly defined. It is to show how the emotions and desires and purposes evolved in each by contact of each with all create and explain the objective social structures.

(3) This is particularly obvious when we turn our attention to those complex 'social structures which cannot be credited to the simple operation of either like-mindedness or felt independence. The best instance is the form of the state at any given period. This is an age-long construction resulting from the convergences and conflicts of the thousand interests and purposes of the members of a community. It is an easy thing to describe the resultant, the system; it is an infinitely difficult thing fully to explain its genesis and growth out of the various purposes which have moved, in their various degrees of station, power, and opportunity, the members of the successive generations. One may show in a general way how the various instincts and purposes of men determine the general character of community, the line followed by Mr. McDougall in the second part of his Social Psychology. One may even show, as many historians attempt to do, how the special characteristics of some types of men determine the special character of their community, though here there is always the danger, especially in dealing with ancient times, that we shall first infer

( 160) the character of the people from their known institutions, and then proceed to show how this character being what it was the institutions took the form they did.[10] Perhaps all that the psychological sociologist can expect to accomplish in any adequate manner is to show how the changes of mental attitude, of thought and purpose, at any one time, and especially in his own age, have modified the social structure of that time.

Further problems for the sociologist and the psychologist arise within this field. I shall enumerate two in closing, selected for their practical importance. (a) The presence of the institution, the system, the social machine, has far-reaching effects on the minds of those brought into directest contact with it, and especially of the officials who operate it. This suggests an interesting psychological enquiry. More generally, whenever men are brought to feel the presence and the power of those great permanent traditions and systems in which their interests and purposes build but a very little part, they are raised, often for good sometimes for evil, from narrower to wider issues. An important practical application of sociology would be the education of men in the true significance, value, and grandeur of the greater community within which each life is lived . (b) Public men have always sought, in an empirical way, to discern "the moods of the mighty leviathan," "the temper and tastes of the motley multitude," as the aristocratic Plato expressed it. There are some signs[11] that this knowledge is beginning to take definite form. It is a knowledge that has often been used for the worst of ends : it may also be used for the best.



  1. Psychology (Home University Library), pp. 228-9.
  2. Cf. Ross, Social Psychology, c.v.
  3. Simmel (Soziologie) quotes Schiller's epigram, " Dass leidich kluge and verstšndige Leute in corpore zu einem Dummkopf wurden," and states that the experience of English trade unions shows that mass meetings arrive at the most wrong-headed decisions, in consequence of which the system of delegates has been in large measure substituted. The conduct of men as an unorganised mass and their conduct as an organised society differ in a remarkable way. This is well illustrated, as a trade union leader has informed me, by the case of the dock labourers of London. Before they became organised they were at the mercy of mob-orators, but these amateur students of group-psychology lost their ascendancy when the dockers' union became properly constituted.
  4. It is in this sense we speak of the ' mind' of a race, the 'soul' of a `people, and so on. We do not mean by it anything super-individual or transcendental.
    See Rep .,pp. 368, 369, 435, 441
  5. This idea is worked out in Mr. Lowes Dickinson's Justice and Liberty.
  6. See Bosanquet's Philosophical Theory of the State, c.v.
  7. See e.g. Karl Pearson's The Grammar of Science, p. 527.
  8. See e.g. Ward's Pure Sociology, p .59.
  9. Ross Foundations of Sociology, pp. 6-7.
  10. This danger is well pointed out in Mr. J. M. Robertson's The Evolution of States.
  11.  e.g., in such works as Mr. Ward's Applied Sociology and Mr. Graham Wallas's Human Nature in Politics.

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