The American Journal of Sociology/Volume 1/Number 2/Reviews
|←Minor Editorials||The American Journal of Sociology, Volume 1, Number 2 (1895)
By Edward Webster Bemis, Albion Woodbury Small, and William Isaac Thomas
Annales de I'Institut International de Sociologie. Travaux du premier Congrès tenu à Paris, October, 1894, pp. xix+388. V. Giard & E. Brière, Paris, 1895.
The society the transactions of whose first congress are reported in the volume before us promises to be an important factor in the promotion of sociological investigation throughout the world. Its next congress convenes in Paris the last week in September. We shall hereafter have more to say of its influence and of its possible importance as an example to American sociologists. We cannot do better in the limited space at our disposal than to present the titles of the papers, with the names of their authors. It is a notable collection of themes and of writers:
- I. The address of the President. Sir John Lubbock.
- II. The address of the general secretary. René Worms.
- III. The study of archæology in Russia. Maxime Kovalewsky.
- IV. The method of induction applied to social phenomena. Paul von Lilienfeld.
- V. Physical and mental defects of children in the public schools. Sir Francis Galton.
- VI. A program of Sociology. Louis Gumplowicz.
- VII. The Question of the Unemployed and its Solution. Guiseppe Flamingo.
- VIII. Sociology and Division of the Soil. G. Combes de Lestrade.
- IX. Sociology and Socialism. Eurico Ferri.
- X. Science and Art in the Social Realm. René Worms.
- XI. Justice and Darwinism. Jacques Novicow.
- XII. Elementary Sociology. G. Tarde.
- XIII. Reflections upon Modern History. Ferdinand Toennies.
- XIV. Psychiatry and the Science of Ideas. Casimir de Kranz.
- XV. Sociology and Criminal Law. Pedro Dorado.
- XVI. Sociology and Anarchism. Adolfo Posado.
- XVII. The Economic Future of Societies. Emile Worms.
- XVIII. The Sociological Importance of Agglomerations. Jules Mandello.
- XIX. The Adaptation of Individuals to the Social Environment. Nicolas Abrikossof.
- XX. Influence of the Number of Social Units upon the Character of Societies. Georg Simmel.
The Evolution of Modern Capitalism. By John A. Hobson. Chas. Scribner's Sons, pp. xvi + 384.
Trusts, or Industrial Combinations in the United States. By Ernst Von Halle. Macmillan & Co., pp. xvi + 350.
The Evolution of Industry. By Henry Dyer. Macmillan & Co., pp. xv + 307.
These three books have each already received attention from many readers and critics, but considered together they are of additional interest. Though written without reference to each other, these discussions have evidently been inspired by a common motive, and they are illustrations of a common method. Neither of these books alone, nor the three combined, can be said to have formulated a theory of social dynamics, or to have illustrated a faultless method of dynamic inquiry. Yet they do what is at present better than this, viz., they manifest the need of isolating certain groups of fact, in which series of dynamic social actions are in operation, and of subjecting these to microscopic examination in order to ascertain the sequences of action. In other words these books apply the positive method to the classes of facts which are relatively the most accessible and most instructive, but most neglected by social philosophers of conservative temper, viz., the facts of contemporary society.
Although neither of these books has accomplished the task of analysis and interpretation which is necessary for dynamic theory, yet each of them has in a measure anticipated the method which theorists in methodology are coöperating unconsciously to make precise and definite. They cannot perform a more useful service to students of social philosophy than by calling attention to these books as products of social analysis proceeding from certain common postulates and pursuing certain common methods. It must be acknowledged that discovery of consensus in both these particulars will not be equivalent to the establishment of any new doctrine, which may be expressed or implied in the agreement of these writers. The coincidence that three authors working independently upon concentric problems have adopted methods which are essentially similar and decidedly unconventional is an important indication of the direction which social inquiries are sure to take in the immediate future.
The three books, which are placed above in the order of publication, are alike in the more or less formally avowed purpose to derive from examination of facts some general laws or clues to laws about the conditions of progress in the industrial section of societary activity. They are practically alike also in assuming that such clues may be found, and the order of sequence discovered within a comparatively restricted portion of time which may be called "the present." Thus Hobson has an introductory chapter of general prolegomena to a treatise on industry; a second chapter on "The Structure of Industry before Machinery," and the remaining twelve chapters deal with industrial processes, means and organizations since the introduction of machinery, i. e., with the industry of the present century.
Of the 350 pages of Von Halle's book, one half are devoted to appendices containing documents illustrating the text. The discussion proper plunges immediately after eight pages of introduction and eight pages on American conditions previous to the Civil War, into examination of the period after 1865. The remaining 140 pages treat therefore, of what may be called a still more restricted present. Dyer has an introductory chapter on the various kinds of law with which the sociologist is concerned; a second chapter on "Conditions of Development;" a third chapter on "Early Corporate and State Regulations of Industry," and the remaining eight chapters or 228 of the 303 pages are devoted to discussion of the conditions which are practically contemporary.
Again, the three authors are alike in treating very nearly the same subjects, though under dissimilar classifications. The tables of contents deserve to be carefully compared. Placed in parallel columns, the chapter titles at once suggest points of comparison and contrast."
|I.||Introduction.||Earlier Public Policy as to Combinations.||Introduction.|
|II.||The Structure of Industry before Machinery.||The Condition of Affairs before the Interstate
Commerce Law and the Anti-Trust Legislation.
|Conditions of Development.|
|III.||The Order of Developopment of Machine Industry.||The Forms of organization.||Early Corporate and State Regulation of Industry.|
|IV.||The Structure of Modern Industry.||The Objects of Organization.||Individual Industry.|
|V.||The Formation of Monopolies in Capital.||Nature and Effect of Trusts.||Trade Unions.|
|VI.||Economic Powers of the Trust.||The Latest phase of corporation Law and its effect on the form and Nature of Combinations.||Position of Women.|
|VII.||Machinery and Industrial Depression.||Public Opinion and the Combinations.||Coöperation.|
|VIII.||Machinery and Demand for Labor.||Conclusions.||Municipal Control.|
|IX.||Machinery and the Quality of Labor.||Modern State Control.|
|X.||The Economy of High Wages.||Industrial Training.|
|XI.||Some Effects of Modem Industry upon the Workers as Consumers.||Modern Industrial Guilds.|
|XII.||Women in Modern Industry.||Industrial Integration.|
|XIII.||Machinery and the Modern Town.|
|XIV.||Civilization and Industrial Development.|
In one more formal particular these three writers resemble each other, viz., they each consider this outlook over contemporary conditions sufficient justification for certain generalizations of industrial cause and effect. It does not appear that they have formally criticised the logical relations of historical and contemporary data; but they have acted upon the assumption that analysis of contemporary status and movement yields data for generalization of statistical and dynamic principles—a supposition which is winning its way very rapidly as a working hypothesis.
The method upon which each of these three writers has attempted to work is indicated by Von Halle as follows: (Introduction, p. xv.) ". . . an analytic division into the several elements is necessary; and then by recombining the various parts of the problem, we may hope to put ourselves in a position to judge the phenomena as a whole. Let us ask then (1) what are the inherent tendencies of the general development? (2) What the product of a local and temporary situation? (3) What of accidental and individual influences? These questions must suggest the outlines of an analytical inquiry.
There are, accordingly, four preliminary matters to be considered.
"1. The general economic development, which growing out of the past, influences, and is influenced by the present, and furnishes the basis for the conditions of the future, themselves changing in their turn.
"2. The national character to which it is due that phenomena differ from place to place, although the general features of the development are similar.
"This largely conditions—
"3. Legal relations, which determine the form of the new phenomena, unless they are strong enough to break them (legal relations) down and create new ones for themselves.
"4. Then there are, lastly, the purely 'subjective' influences, the chance concurrence of circumstances—the presence or absence of particular individuals, which give their color to events. These are usually put in the foreground, and are only too likely to have an undue influence upon our judgment by misleading us as to the relative importance of things."
An inspection of the three books upon which we are commenting will result in an arrangement of them on the basis of generality, in this order, viz., (1) Dyer, (2) Hobson, (3) Von Halle; i.e., Dyer tries "to estimate the value of the various factors in the industrial problem, and to coordinate or integrate their effective components so as to be able to form some idea of the resulting organization. . . . The object kept in view has been to show that the various parts of the labor movement have common components, and that they are developing an organization of industry which will meet the conditions necessary for efficiency and for the welfare of the community. . . . The book will have served its purpose ... if it has indicated the manner in which social problems should be studied before changes in administration and legislation are attempted. . . . At the same time it must be remembered that the organization of labor is only one element, although no doubt a very important one, in the more general problem of the organization of society, which I shall consider in another volume." (Preface, pp. x-xi.)
Hobson's more restricted problem is stated by him as follows: "The method here adopted is to take for our intellectual objective one important factor in modern industrial movements, to study the laws of its development and activity, and by observing the relations which subsist between it and other leading factors or forces in industry to obtain some clearer appreciation and understanding of the structure of industry as a whole, and its relation to the evolution of human society. This central factor is indicated by the descriptive title peculiarly applied to modern industry, 'Capitalism.'" (P. 4).
Von Halle, as his title definitely indicates, confines his inquiry to a still more specific problem, viz., those combinations of capitalistic industry in the United States, which are known as "Trusts." (Introd. p. xiii.)
Taken together, these three volumes may be of great present service not merely as guides to the study of particular contemporary conditions, but as aids to the development, tentatively at least, of statical and dynamic portions of social philosophy. Mr. Dyer is not afraid of being written down as unscientific for reflecting upon a future or ideal social order, indicated in certain traits at least, in discoverable social potencies. This is the more gratifying from the fact that his training as a civil engineer cannot be charged with tendency to create a bias toward impractical abstract speculation. Mr. Dyer begins his preface as follows:
"Goethe prophesied that the great problems at the end of the nineteenth century would be the organization of mechanical industry, and the social and economic questions connected therewith. This prophecy has been abundantly fulfilled. The disputes and struggles connected with labor, and the conditions of the poorest classes of the community, have directed the attention of many thoughtful men and women to the social and economic problems of the day, and in all parts of the world these are presenting themselves to educationists, social reformers, politicians and statesmen, as the matters which above all others are urgently demanding careful study and investigation. M. de Laveleye put the dominant thought into words when he said: 'The message of the eighteenth century to men was, 'Thou shalt cease to be the slave of nobles and despots who oppress thee: thou art free and sovereign.' But the problem of our times is, 'It is a grand thing to be free and sovereign, but how is it that the sovereign often starves? How is it that those who are held to be the source of power often cannot, even by hard work, provide themselves with the necessaries of life?'" (Contemporary Review, March, 1890.)
"From a survey of the chief conditions of industry which have been brought about by the great development of machinery, and of the application of science, it is evident that the present century is in a large sense a probationary epoch, an era of beginnings. Indeed it is not at all a question of whether the existing social order shall be changed, but of how the inevitable change shall be made. . . . It is long since Carlyle pointed out that 'this that they call organizing of labor is, if well understood, the problem of the whole future for all who will, in future pretend to govern men;' but it is only now that politicians are beginning to recognize that it is the most important piece of work which lies immediately before them. Like the Bishop of Durham, I believe 'that the unequal heritage which we enjoy, containing as it does, the common enjoyment of the highest forces for inspiring and disciplining a generous character, not only prepares us to face the problem of the organization of industry as a fellowship of service, but lays on us the obligation of doing so. The life of nations is a mission no less than the life of men, and unless the teaching of history misleads us, this is part of the mission of England. May the will answer to the call. Men upon the whole are what they can be—nations what they would.'"
"Hitze (Die Quintessenz der Socialen Fragen) has truly said that the problem of the day is, 'To find a social organization corresponding to the modern conditions of production, as the social organization of the Middle Ages corresponded with the simple conditions of production then existing both in town and country; and it is this problem in its industrial aspects of which I have attempted to indicate what I believe to be the nature of the solution. Both history and science show us that social and economic changes, to be permanent, must be gradual, and fitted to the mental and moral conditions of the people. I believe, therefore, that the solution of the problem I have mentioned will not be brought about by a revolution, or a brand-new organization, but by the evolution of movements at present going on, and by the development of intellectual and moral training.'"
Mr. Dyer's conception of scientific idealism appears more in detail in his first chapter, which contains important suggestions in methodology.
Hobson's idealism is less apparent, but it is implied in the whole tenor of his investigation, and it has the same scientific sanctions which Mr. Dyer claims.
Thus (pp. 351 sq.): "Modern industrial societies have hitherto secured to a very inadequate extent the services which modern machinery and methods of production are capable of rendering. The actual growth of material wealth, however great, has been by no means commensurate with the enormously increased powers of producing material commodities afforded by the discoveries of modern science, and the partial utilization of these discoveries has been attended by a very unequal distribution of the advantages of this increase in the stock of common knowledge and control of nature. Moreover, as an offset against the growth of material wealth, machinery has been a direct agent in producing certain material and moral maladies which impair the health of modern industrial communities.
"The unprecedented rapidity and irregularity of the discovery and adoption of the new methods make it impossible for the structure of industrial society to adjust itself at once to the conditions of the new environment. The maladies and defects which we detect in modern industry are but the measure of a present maladjustment.
"The progessive adjustment of a structure to environment in the unconscious or low conscious world is necessarily slow. But where the conscious will of man, either as an individual or as a society, can be utilized for an adjusting force, the pace of progress may be indefinitely quickened. . . . A society which should bring its conscious will to bear upon the work of constructing new industrial forms to fit the new economic conditions, may make a progress which, while rapid, may yet be safe, because it is not a speculative progress, but one which is guided in its line of movement by precedent changes of environment.
Regarding, then, this conscious organized endeavor, enlightened and stimulated by a fuller understanding of industrial forces in their relation to human life, as a determinant of growing value in the industrial evolution of the future, it may properly belong to a scientific study of modern industry to seek to discover how the forces of conscious reform can reasonably work in relation to the economic forces whose operations have been already investigated.
"In other words, what are the chief lines of economic change required to bring about a readjustment between modern methods of production and social welfare? The answer to this question requires us to amplify our interpretation of the industrial evolution of the past century by producing into the future the same lines of development that they may be justified by the appearance of consisting with some rational social end. The most convenient, and perhaps the safest way to meet this demand is to indicate, with that modesty which rightly belongs to prophecy, some of the main reforms which seem to lie upon the road of industrial progress, rendered subordinate to larger human social ends."
The proposition made above with reference to Hobson's idealism is equally true of Von Halle (vide p. 141.). "No definite judgment about the trust question is possible as yet. It is too recent, and its phases undergo rapid and constant changes. But one thing is certain, the mere form of organization is irrelevant—possibly effect, surely not cause. Armour, or Chicago gas companies, or sugar trust; Carnegie, or the separated Standard Oil Conipanies under uniform management, or the American Cotton Oil Company—the form of ownership is of a secondary importance economically. The issue proper is, and will be for the near future, shall it be small or large undertakings, or to what extent shall there be compromises between them?
In the United States, public opinion has to decide finally about the meaning and nature of things. It will not be able, in the long run, to lean upon mere theories and maxims; it will be forced by the actual development to undergo changes, to reform and to remodel itself in correspondence with the great laws of historical progress. The old ideas about the infallibility and exclusive desirability of individual and unrestricted activity have begun to fade. The masses still adhere to them, and are supported therein by the newspapers and politicians who prefer popularity to thoroughness and thought, and by the cheap economics of old-fashioned every-day economists, who are not able to perceive that, since the time of their youth, there has been any change or progress in practical life as well as in the scientific interpretation of it. But whosoever tries to understand the times, at once perceives the different character of modern problems and the necessity of new standards of judgment."
Our limitations permit, finally, brief reference to the conclusions proposed as a result of these parallel applications of an economic method. The title of Dyer's final chapter—"Industrial Integration"—may be understood as his term for what actually is in progress, in which he sees certain amelioration of industrial conditions, and in the conscious guidance of which he predicts the largest practical social gains. (Vide pp. 255 sq., esp. pp. 294 sq.)
Hobson takes an equally optimistic view of social possibilities, but pins his faith to somewhat different factors. Thus (pp. 352 sq.) "The complete breakdown of all barriers which impede the free flow of commerce and the migration of capital and labor, the fullest and widest dissemination of industrial information, are necessary to the attainment of the individualistic ideal of free trade. Perfect transparency of industrial operations, perfect fluidity of labor and of wealth, would effect incalculably great economies in the production of commercial wealth."
But, continues Mr. Hobson, "We shall secure such progress as shall abate the evils of our present condition, and secure for humanity the uses of machinery only by gains in two directions: (1) an adequate social control over machinery, (2) an education in the arts of consumption such as may assign proper limits to the sphere of machine production" (p. 355.). Mr. Hobson's development of the latter proposition is very much in the spirit of Ruskin; thus the author of Unto This Last might have written the paragraphs upon the themes: "It is to improved quality and character of consumption that we can alone look for a guarantee of social progress" (p. 368); and "It is hardly too much to say that the whole of social progress depends upon the substitution of qualitative for quantitative methods of consumption" (p. 373 sq.)
Von Halle is less explicit, except when he concludes that "the repeal of the present anti-trust legislation seems desirable" (p. 147.). He is apparently quite as confident however, that we are surely approaching large and satisfying improvements of social conditions. This is indicated in his closing paragraph. "It is my belief that the future belongs neither to the prophets of individualism, nor to the ideals of the social democrats. Its next phases belong to social reorganization. And the probability is that this will show a corporate character, and will be sustained and controlled by public supervision."
I have not given so much space to the expression of a favorable judgment upon these books because they are altogether free from inaccuracies as to fact, or because I indorse their conclusions. Taken together the three volumes set a high standard for investigators of social conditions. They exhibit a worthy conception of what is involved in qualification for judgment either about the quality of present industrial relations or about the directions in which or the means by which we should seek for change. The books may be used together as a very valuable concrete exhibit and application of the abstract principles of societary exposition which some of the most sagacious contemporary social philosophers have adopted as parts of their working hypothesis.
Industrial Evolution of the United States. By Carroll D. Wright. 12mo., pp x. + 362. Flood & Vincent, the Chautauqua-Century Press, 1895.
Not often is a valuable popular book written as is this by one whose past work is the chief original authority for much of the contents. In preparing this volume, Mr. Wright gets much of his best material from his past reports as chief for many years of the Massachusetts and later of the United States departments of labor statistics and from his other special researches. This popular condensation of such investigations by the leading labor statistician of America, and probably of the world, will be of great value not only to the general public but to many specialists. The author describes the development in colonial and subsequent epochs, and the magnitude as revealed in our various census reports of some of our leading manufacturing industries.
Many interesting facts are marshaled to prove that wages were much higher in both money and purchasing power in 1890 than in 1860 or 1840, or any previous period, though it is conceded that amid such natural resources and inventions, labor should have gained still more. The common claim of the wage-worker that machinery displaces labor and increases the number of the involuntary idle, is met by our author with illustrations of how much invention, as in electricity and rubber manufacture, increases the demand for labor, and with statistics showing that while the population increased 62.41 per cent, from 1870 to 1890, the number of persons in all occupations increased 81.8 per cent.
May it not be, however, that our immigration has brought us an unnatural enlargement of adults of working age and that this, together with the increase of women, and in some states children wage-workers, accounts for the different ratios of increase? Anyway, a study of the relative increase of native adult workers as compared with the total native population would be most interesting in this connection.
The well-known claim of Bastiat and Atkinson that the wage-worker gets an increasing share of an increasing product is disproved by the census figures, in so far as these are reliable. As Colonel Wright says, these figures show that in 1850, 51 percent, of the net value of our manufacturing product went to wages, and in 1890 45 per cent. This is partly accounted for by the fact that though interest rates are falling, the average amount of capital required for $100 of product increased from $52.32 in 1850 to $69.62 in 1890, or 33 per cent. This is a remarkable confirmation of the theory of Professor John B. Clark, that with private ownership of capital, the chief way in which labor can get an increasing absolute wage is through increase of capital, which will mean a decreasing relative share for the wage-worker. Colonel Wright's chapters, which are well illustrated by cuts of industrial processes, close with a brief but good account of some salient features in the history of American labor organizations and strikes, including the Chicago strike of 1 894, and of Massachusetts factory legislation. The latter is not fully brought up to date.
The Knights of Labor is reported as now having 150,000 members. It is doubtful if there are one-fourth of this number who are keeping up their dues or are in any substantial way assisting the order. The American Railway Union is spoken of as having an alleged membership of 150,000 both before and since the strike. In June 1894, only 24,868 were reported by the officers as having paid their dues, though more were recognized as members and were expected soon to pay. The entire number could hardly have exceeded 100,000 at any time, much less now.Colonel Wright also errs in supposing that the railway brotherhoods and some other unions quoted are members of the American Federation of Labor, and that 29.71 per cent, of the 4,700,000 engaged in mechanical and manufacturing industries are in labor organizations. The percentage is nearer ten. Sidney Webb, after exhaustive investigation, holds that the far better organized workers of Great Britain, the trade unionists number only about 20 per cent, of even the adult male manual working class. These few errors, however, do not materially lessen the value of the book, which deserves a wide reading. We need more writers of the liberal views, generous sympathies and wide research of Carroll D. Wright.
Aspects of the Social Problem. Edited by Bernard Bosanquet. Macmillan & Co., 1895. viii + 332 pp. $1.00.
"Though the public mind is full of the problems of social reform, it is remarkable how little literature, combining trained observation in the social field with reasonable theory, is available for the general reader. The present volume of studies has been brought together with the view of helping to fill this gap, and of indicating, however imperfectly, the sort of work by which it should further be filled. The contributors may claim that they have all attempted to qualify as social students in two definite ways. They all possess prolonged and systematic experience in practical efforts to improve the condition of the poor, and they have all paid careful attention to the methods and principles of social reform. Their studies, written on different occasions, with different purposes, and drawn from different fields of observation, appear, when compared together, to have a single principle at their root. The writers have seen and felt as well as reflected that the individual member of society is above all things a character and a will, and that society as a whole is a structure in which will and character 'are the blocks with which we build.'"The writers, realize the aim thus expressed in the preface. The volume is fragmentary, but well executed, and will interest the general public. About half the papers bear on the theory and method of social reform, and the remainder are a record of social fact as observed especially in London and among the poor.