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What are Principles of Sociology?

I. W. Howerth
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 31, No. 4 (Jan., 1926), pp. 474-484
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2764745
Page Count: 11
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What are Principles of Sociology?
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Abstract

It seems that a satisfactory answer to the question, "What is a sociological principle?" should be found in the dictionary or in sociological treatises. But it is not. Most sociologists have overlooked the question. We need an answer, clear and definite. It is here suggested that sociological principles, in the most fundamental sense, are exactly similar in character to mechanical principles; they explain natural processes. Such principles must be carefully distinguished from social laws, which describe but do not explain. Lester F. Ward appears to be the only sociologist who has thus conceived principles of sociology. There are, however, two kinds of principles that may be called sociological. They are, first, general truths about society that enable the sociologist to discover other and more recondite social truths; they are, in a sense, methodological. Secondly, they are fundamental truths that definitely explain how nature produces social changes. They are the modi operandi of the social forces in the field of natural social phenomena. The latter are the more important, since they give the clue to social control and a basis of hope for future social self-direction.

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