Social Psychology: An Outline and Source Book



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Dec 31, 1908
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Edward Alsworth Ross
Social Control falls within social psychology, which is thebranch of knowledge that deals with the psychic interplaybetween man and his environment. In Ross' terms, one ofthese branches, social ascendency, deals with the dominationof society over the individual. Another, individualascendency, embraces such topics as invention, leadership,the role of great men, and deals with the dominationof the individual over society.

Social ascendency is divided into social infl uence--mob mind, fashion, convention, custom, public opinion,and the like--and social control. Th e former is occupiedwith social domination that is without intention or purpose.The latter is concerned with social domination thatis intended and that fulfi ls a function in the life of society.At the start of the twentieth century this work played animportant role in the origination of social psychology asa distinct field.

Ross sought to determine how far the order we seeabout us is due to infl uences that reach men and womenwithout social intervention. Investigation shows that thepersonality freely unfolds under conditions of healthy fellowshipand may arrive at goodness on its own, and thatorder is explained partly by this streak in human natureand partly by the infl uence of social surroundings. Ross'book separates the individual's contribution to socialorder from that of society, and, brings to light everythingthat is considered in the social contribution of the individual.Th is classic volume is an important contributionto the history of ideas.

Edward Alsworth Ross (1866-1951) wasknown as one of the founders of Americansociology and was most famous for hisview that the purpose of sociology is thereform of society. He was also professorand chair of the department of sociologyat the University of Wisconsin. Some ofhis work includes Sin and Society, ChangingAmerica and The Social Trend.

Matthias Gross is senior research scientist in the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on the history of the social sciences, environmental sociology, and science and technology studies.

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