Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

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In the present chapter are given a series of selections on the forms of leadership. Leaders differ depending upon the social situation in which they are placed. While there are certain general qualities no doubt in all leadership, it would be a mistake to set down a priori a series of qualities of all leaders ignoring the place which circumstance, time and place have in this expression of superiority. In other words, one can no more understand leadership than any other social process without taking into account, first, the group situation in which it occurs and, secondly, the culture patterns concerned. Thus political leadership has distinctive characteristics, no 'doubt, as has religious or military leadership. While very little actual investigation has been made on this matter from the angle of social psychology some of the papers indicate a beginning. Such are those by Webster, Munro, Merriam and Root.

Mumford's paper shows the growth of leadership along with institutions beginning in pre-historic societies. Webster's paper is included to indicate by concrete example the type of leadership found in various primitive groups. The ordinary person is apt to be ignorant of the fact and place of leadership in primitive societies. These instances will help to alter this stereotype. We see in Jalinapiramurana, in Finau, Chaka and our own American Indian chiefs. Pontiac and Tecumseh, illustrations of oratorical power, of executive ability, of enormous drive and ambition. Of course, mere age. acquaintance with group custom, and hereditary position also count for much in primitive as in present society. Yet, all in all, these examples reveal the crystallization of group action in one man who carries the group forward with him.

Schwarz furnishes us with some reflections on various mental

( 583) characteristics of leaders : philosophers, scientists, poets, and men of action. The effect of the type of interest and attention on the type of mental development is very evident and this, in turn, affects the form of leadership. The broad sweep of the cosmic philosopher is apt to seem vague and all too general to the narrow specialized scientist with his array of hard facts. So, too, the man of action is pretty apt to be irritated by the slower-moving man of thought and contemplation. These various sorts of leaders play parts in the complex social groupings of our society. In some periods of history one type or another has predominated and thus the whole caste of group ethos and movement would affect and be affected by the types of leaders. Certainly, our own period is rather dominated by the practical man of affairs.

Merriam's analysis of the qualities of political leaders is a revision of Michels' incisive study. We owe much to Michels and to Merriam for opening tip the field of political leadership to social psychological analysis. This is a rich field heretofore unexplored because of the influence of the legalistic tradition in political science. Kent's paper on the American political boss is a concrete case of the psychological analysis of mechanisms of control.

Munro's contrast of Mayors Mitchell and Johnson is a striking illustration of a type of study that needs more careful work in the future. He has indicated the differences in temperament and attitude of two men in political office.

According to Root there are two types of radical leadership, one the impersonal, objective sort found in the man of science, the other is the kind seen in the emotional social and economic reformer. The selections from this paper reveal the differences in these two types.

Rice has made an effort to state the psychological motives in radical social reformers. There is an attempt to show the relation of individual emotional organization and social and cultural factors. Here as elsewhere one must recognize the three factors of the individual, the social group and culture patterns. To try to explain all radicalism as did Carleton Parker in terms of balked personal desires is to ignore the other factors. Many persons have lately fallen into the error of seeing in every socialist or I. W. W. a mentally unbalanced person. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Frothing could illustrate better how eagerly the ordinary, untrained mind

( 584) catches on to scientific formulations and uses them in constructing his own stereotypes, legends and explanations (rationalizations).

The inventor constitutes an important factor in social change. The paper by Baldwin is pertinent to the problem of the relation of the inventor to social groups. It is often thought that inventors are something like biological sports or divergencies which spring out of biological sources alone. Some years ago Professor Ogburn very neatly showed us how inventions follow a general curve of cultural development. This is seen in the numerous instances of duplicated inventions and discoveries of which perhaps the most famous is the joint announcement of the theory of biological evolution by Darwin and Wallace in 1858. And again one invention or discovery is dependent upon an enormous body of material piled up from earlier scientific men and no man has the right to lay claim to anything approaching complete originality as is sometimes held by the uninformed. The selection from Goldenweiser contrasting primitive and modern invention illustrates the place which technique and past culture plays in invention.

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