The Study of Man: America's Social Classes
It is a primary function of any religion to explain and justify society to the population, and in societies where religious belief is wanting, it falls to popular philosophy to discover some rational order in social relationships and institutions. In the modern world, with its faith in science, the rationalization must be couched in scientific terms and supported by the paraphernalia of the sciences; thus the task of explaining the social system is taken over by sociology and the academic study of American social life. But such rationalizations have more than an academic significance—once stated, they may themselves play an important role in influencing society by confirming existing tendencies.
The new sociology of social class in America, as it is being developed by W. Lloyd Warner and his many students, serves as more than a mere description or reflection of our order. Bringing to the study of class a particular point of view, it bids fair to help mold the class system of our society according to a set pattern, in line not only with what Warner sees, but with what he preconceives as fitting and proper. Nature is said sometimes to copy art; society perhaps copies artifice. For this reason the meaning and impact of Warner’s views are doubly worth critical examination; and particularly must we examine the moral ideology implicit in the theoretical foundation of this class analysis.
About the Author