Over the course of his work he shifted his focus from philosophy to sociology. He remains a major figure in the history of Polish and American sociology; the founder of Polish academic sociology, and of an entire school of thought in sociology. Thomas , of the study, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America — , which is considered the foundation of modern empirical sociology. He also made major contributions to sociological theory , introducing terms such as humanistic coefficient and culturalism. In Poland, he established the first Polish department of sociology at Adam Mickiewicz University where he worked from to His career in the US begun at the University of Chicago to and continued at Columbia University to and to and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to

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Florian Witold Znaniecki was born in Swiatniki, Poland. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Warsaw but was expelled shortly before receiving his degree—for leading a demonstration against the Russian administration. He pursued his graduate studies at the universities of Geneva, Zurich, Paris, and Cracow, receiving his doctorate from Cracow in Finally, under the influence of W.

Thomas, he turned away from philosophy and became a sociologist. Philosophy seemed to him to have become a discipline doomed to sterility, whereas sociology opened up new vistas for the future advancement of knowledge.

For political reasons Znaniecki was ineligible for an academic post in Poland, and therefore, after taking his doctorate, he found employment in an emigration bureau. It was here that Thomas, on one of his frequent trips to Europe, met Znaniecki. Thomas had begun to interest himself in the problems of immigrants to the United States and particularly in Polish immigrants. He persuaded young Znaniecki to go to the University of Chicago in and arranged an appointment for him as lecturer in Polish institutions; together they worked on the monumental five-volume study entitled The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, which appeared during the years In Znaniecki also published his own first book in English, Cultural Reality, an essay on historical relativism.

In the early s Znaniecki returned to Poland, where he became professor of sociology at Poznan and where, in , he founded the Polish Sociological Institute. In the summer of he was once more at Columbia, where he delivered a series of lectures that were published, a year later, under the title The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge. The war prevented his return to Poland, and he thereupon accepted an appointment at the University of Illinois, where he spent the last period of his academic career with the exception of one postretirement year at Wayne State University and where he wrote his Cultural Sciences and his Modern Nationalities, both published in In all of his works, both Polish and English, Znaniecki enjoyed the support and assistance of his wife, Eileen Markley Znaniecki.

A scholar in her own right, she nevertheless submerged her career in his and served him throughout their life together as his indispensable amanuensis.

Half of his books were written in Polish and are inaccessible to all but a few American and English readers. His most important contributions to sociology as such, however, are in his English works, and our discussion will focus on five of these.

It is doubtful whether either of them alone could have brought The Polish Peasant to fruition, and neither alone could have made it the sociological classic it is conceded to be. Thomas brought to the work a psychological depth, a comprehensive curiosity, and a rare wisdom.

Znaniecki contributed a philosophical sophistication, a historical erudition, and a flair for systematization. The Polish Peasant made at least three major contributions to sociology, one methodological and the other two substantive. The methodological innovation was the extended use of personal documents, which Thomas and Znaniecki regarded as sociological data par excellence.

The two substantive contributions were, first, the linking of attitudes and values in a relationship that staked out a new field for sociological investigation and, second, the famous four wishes—response, recognition, new experience, and security—a variant of an earlier formulation by Thomas.

It offers in a mature form almost all the ideas that characterize his sociological theory. He accordingly made three major points in this book. The first was that sociology is a special and not a general social science and that it has its own special subject matter, its own kind of data, shared by no other science; it is therefore of necessity limited to the investigation of a small but important range of phenomena. The third was that although rigorous logical standards are to be observed, sociology is destined for a long time to be a qualitative rather than a quantitative discipline.

A number of other salient points appear in The Method of Sociology. Znaniecki argued, for example, that although practical experience teaches us a great deal about social life, it does not suffice for the constitution of scientific knowledge. A theoretical science like sociology can prosper only when it uses theoretical criteria and theoretical standards in the accumulation of its facts, the selection of its problems, and the determination of its data.

Znaniecki took a middle ground on the competing claims of theory and research. Neither an undisciplined rationalism nor a planless empiricism could satisfy his criteria for the proper direction of sociological inquiry.

Znaniecki was disposed to maintain the NeoKantian distinction between two kinds of systems —natural and cultural—which exhibit differences not only in composition and structure but also in the character of the elements that account for their coherence.

Natural systems are objectively given and exist independently of the experience and activity of men. Znaniecki had his own label for this difference. On the issue of Wertfreiheit, however, he took his position with the majority in insisting that sociology is a categorical and not a normative discipline.

Sociology for Znaniecki was a very special kind of inquiry. It was not a natural science; it was not ethics or political philosophy; it was not social psychology on this point chapter 1 of Social Actions is especially relevant ; it was not the purely formal discipline of a Simmel; it was not a general theory of cultural data; and above all it was not a philosophy of history. Sociology was for Znaniecki a science of social systems, systems that fall into four main subdivisions—social actions, social relations, social persons, and social groups.

The nature of these subsystems reveals that sociology is a special science that concerns itself with only one kind of cultural system—the social—and not, for example, with such other cultural systems as the technological, economic, religious, or linguistic.

Everywhere in his work Znaniecki emphasized the role of conscious agents or actors—an emphasis which his opponents were inclined to criticize as the subjective point of view. It is persons as objects of the actions of others, however, not as subjects, that meet his criteria for sociological data.

Among the sources of these data Znaniecki listed the personal experiences of the sociologist, both original and vicarious; observation by the sociologist, both direct and indirect; the personal experience of other people; and the observations of other people. It is this emphasis which supported his use of personal documents in sociological research. It is less well organized than The Method of Sociology, less precise in its articulation of the nature of sociology, and it offers less sense of system.

Its value lies in its insights both into the interior meaning of various types of actions and into the manner in which an investigation and analysis of actions can contribute to sociological theory.

Actions are social not because they conform to norms but because they deal with human beings to whom the agent reacts as conscious objects and with an intent to influence. The social world is a world in becoming, not a world in being, and for this reason studies of social structure as such are not to be countenanced. They are erroneous in basic premise because there is no such thing as a static action.

He was a follower of Bergson rather than of Descartes. In this book also Znaniecki utilized the concepts of social person and social circle. The circle gives to the person a social status, consisting of rights and privileges, and he in turn performs certain services for the circle.

The essay is a small masterpiece of sociological literature. For a number of years he had planned to write an outline of the historical evolution of sociology, but he found the subject so intertwined with the development of philosophical and scientific knowledge in general that he had no alternative but to attend to the origin and development of the cultural sciences more generally. Accordingly, he treated such problems as the nature of knowledge, the concept of order, biological and psychological determinants of culture, the relationship of individual entities and collectivities, determinism and creativity, human actions, and axio-normatively ordered systems.

In treating such normative systems, he turned from the sociological direction back to his earlier interest in values.

Znaniecki advanced to a new position in Cultural Sciences with his assertion that sociology, though specialized, is nevertheless the basic cultural science, just as physics is the basic natural science.

As a matter of fact, the importance of sociology in this central role increases to the extent that it limits its task to the comparative study of social systems.

It makes other cultural sciences possible because they too deal with social actions and without them there would be no art, no religion, no commerce, no philosophy, and no science. The humanistic coefficient is not something to be deplored as detracting from the objectivity of scientific knowledge; rather it is something to be seized upon and utilized in the construction of a scientific sociology.

The humanistic coefficient not only justifies but also requires the use of personal experiences as sociological data and thus gives a special meaning and significance to sociological research. For discussion of the subsequent development of his ideas, see science, article on scientists; values.

Warsaw: No publisher given. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. New York : Dover. Abel, Theodore Florian Znaniecki , American Sociological Review Barnes, Harry E. Volume 2, pages in Harry E. New York: Dover. Gidijnski, Joseph C. Polish Review 3, no. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Timasheff, Nicholas S. New York: Random House. Znaniecki, Eileen M. Pages in Georges Gurvitch and Wilbert E.

Moore editors , Twentieth Century Sociology. New York: The Philosophical Library. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. May 23, Retrieved May 23, from Encyclopedia.

Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Florian Znaniecki was a Polish-American sociologist and educator who helped to develop concern for a responsible emphasis on subjective aspects of social behavior. Florian Znaniecki was born near Swiatniki, Poland. After a childhood of broad exposure to foreign languages, he developed an interest in philosophy, which he studied at the universities of Warsaw and Geneva, among others.

He received the doctorate at the University of Cracow and published extensively in Polish during the next five years. Thomas to come to the United States and collaborate on a project dealing with Polish migrants.

He was a visiting professor at Columbia University in and again in In he began a final and happy tenure at the University of Illinois until his retirement in In he was elected president of the American Sociological Society.

Znaniecki's first works in English— Cultural Reality , The Laws of Social Psychology , The Method of Sociology , and Social Actions —shared the basic objective of forging a viable connection between sociology and social psychology. In Cultural Reality, he emphasized the importance of values as components of social action. This was further developed in The Polish Peasant, but he analyzed changes in values, attitudes, and behavior as emergents from the process of social interaction in Laws of Social Psychology.

Znaniecki then identified the strategy of sociology as seeking patterns in human valuation in four related phenomena—single actions, social relations, social roles of given individuals, and specified social groups. Focusing on social action as the most basic unit, he distinguished the structure of social action into a set of key values: those dealing with other persons, with methods of influence, with responses of others, and with self-evaluation.

Turning from actions to social roles, Znaniecki developed a detailed theory of the origins and specialization of roles around circles of common interest in The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge


Books by Florian Znaniecki



Znaniecki, Florian


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