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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/163

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EXACT METHODS IN SOCIOLOGY.

utility and scientific interest, the appropriation for them would have been denied in Congress without an instant's hesitation. They have been included because of the political deference given to class feeling and to various forms of religious and educational prejudice.

Thus there is seen to be a remarkable interdependence of statistical method and psychological analysis in the development of sociological research. Analysis and method have converged upon the same postulates, and it is apparently by the development of methods frankly founded upon these postulates that our sociological knowledge is to be further increased.

It would be a great mistake, however, to assume that sociological knowledge is to be increased only by the further collection and interpretation of numerical data. Careful monographic description and historical research must continue to be important sources of both information and hypothesis. The great defects of monographic work, both descriptive and historical, are, first, a certain lack of precision, attributable to the large part played in investigation by the individual judgment of the student (the lack of objective tests by which his subjective impressions may be critically examined); second, a certain incompleteness, attributable to a failure to separate each inquiry into all its scientific subdivisions and to attempt to obtain desired data under each subdivision, as is done in statistical investigation where, in every table, as many topics as there are scientific subdivisions of the general subject are represented by columns, and an entry of some kind is made in every column.

I wish now to point out the possibility of giving greater precision to monographic work in sociology by the introduction of quasi-statistical methods—methods that are essentially quantitative in an algebraic sense, though they are not numerical.

Social phenomena have the interesting characteristic that small forces, while never lost in that composition of forces which determines the ultimate equilibrium of the social system, often count for absolutely nothing in the practical affairs of a given generation. If, for example, Mr. Bryan and a Democratic Congress had been elected in 1896, the practical consequences for the United States would have been much the same whether the Democratic plurality had been one hundred thousand, half a million, or two or three millions. This is but one example of a large class of facts. Social phenomena are more often than not determined by a mere matter of more or less, rather than by the exact amount or degree of more or less. The determination is algebraic rather than arithmetical. Is the element under investigation a positive