W. I. Thomas on Social Organization and Social Personality: Selected Papers

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University of Chicago Press, 1966 - Social psychology - 311 pages
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INTRODUCTION by Morris Janowitz
The Primary Group

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About the author (1966)

W. I. Thomas, an American sociologist, received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago after studying at the universities of Berlin and Gottingen. He published several important books on a variety of subjects, but he probably would not have become famous had he not written The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1984), a study of the Americanization of Polish immigrants to the United States at the turn of the century. Coauthored with Florian Znaniecki, a Polish sociologist who helped him interpret Polish culture, this massive two-volume work became a classic example of how such personal documents as letters and diaries can be combined with interviews to study social change. Ten years after its publication, in a journal article, Thomas used the phrase "If men define situations as real they are real in their consequences"---a phrase extensively quoted to this day in order stress the importance of perception over reality in people's lives.

Morris Janowitz was an American sociologist educated at the University of Chicago. As a student of many Chicago School theorists, he was most interested in the process of communication and its role in establishing a sense of community. Prejudice was another lifelong interest. During World War II, Janowitz worked as a propaganda analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice. He is best known for The Community Press in An Urban Setting (1980), his early study of the role of newspapers in establishing a sense of community. This work combined his interest in the press as an agent of solidarity with his concern about the perpetuation of prejudice.

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