Everett C[herrington] Hughes

Mariental: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, by Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Hans Zeisel. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, Inc., 1971. xvi+128 pp. $ 5.95

in: Contemporary Sociology. A Journal of Reviews (Albany, N.Y.), 2. Bd., Nr. 1 (Januar 1973), S. 34–35.

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Marienthal: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, by Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Hans Zeisel. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, Inc., 1971. xvi+128 pp. $ 5.95.

Everett C. Hughes

Boston College

Three young Viennese social psychologists, students of the Bühlers,[1] in 1930 made an on-the-spot study of Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal, the unemployed of Marienthal. Ninety-eight pages of this slim, but pregnant, book are an original and only translation into English of that study. Lazarsfeld’s Foreword, »Forty Years Later« (pp. vii–xvi) sketches the study of poverty and unemployment from then until now in western Europe and North America. An afterword, »Toward a History of Sociography,« (pp. 99–125) was written, as Zeisel says (p. 99) »almost forty years ago so that our study could be seen in historical context.« A few bracketed footnotes to the Afterword call attention to early published studies which they bad overlooked.

The whole makes a book which I would suggest as a document to be used in introducing students to the study of society. One of the innovations the Vienna group had already made in studies of consumption was to ask people what kinds of shoes they had actually bought, and why; not what they would buy. Using this book to introduce students to social observation and analysis would be to follow that principle. It tells how a certain team of young social scientists, reared and trained in a certain setting (The Vienna of Musil’s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften[2] but after revolution and the break-up of the Austrian Empire), themselves full of social energy, actually did undertake a social study. Social scientists have now become consumers of research methods and rather inclined to buy them ready made.

The team spent a good deal of time in the small community, which had been made totally unemployed by the closing of the one textile factory around which it had been built early in the 19th century. They gather facts, attitudes, and figures from a variety of available records and questionnaires, and by observation. As they say, it was the first study of an unemployed community. I have lately read of such a community in New York near the Quebec border; the former employees of the iron mine there have, many of them, managed to continue to live in the town while travelling to other towns to work. And as Robert Stone[3] has shown in Welfare and Working Fathers (Lexington, Massachusetts: Heath Lexington Books, 1971) poor people in this country have to have a car to collect coupons and a refrigerator to keep their goods for consumption. The physical conditions of unemployment and poverty are not the same as in lower Austria between the World War and [Adolf] Hitler. But what is rather unique about the Marienthal study is that the authors did more than describe conditions; they generated some hypotheses concerning the effects of unemployment on the dole-idle unemployment. People lose their sense of time; they become apathetic.

The English Surveys of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had described conditions very well; they made little attempt to develop a social psychology of poverty. But those British studies – most of which are mentioned by Zeisel in his Afterword – interpreted conditions broadly enough to include a good deal of the culture, perhaps not of unemployment, but of poverty. Walter Besant[4] told of the functions of the pawnshop for the poor. On Saturday night a man might get his Sunday suit out of hock with his wages; on Monday, or Tuesday, it had to be pawned again to keep going until wages were paid again. No »social institution,« reports Booth[5] in the London survey, could operate in East London unless it either offered gambling and beer, or had a subsidy from the middle classes. Other institutions of slums were well described. An implied social psychology appeared in the classification of the population according to level of living and degree of poverty. The very poorest were generally dubbed shiftless and semi-criminal; which came first, the poverty or the shiftlessness was not asked in any survey which I can recall.

The story of the English studies of poverty is told in Social Surveys, by D. Caradog Jones[6] (Hutchinson’s University Library, No. 28, pp. 1–232.); Jones starts with the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror,[7] appar-

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ently undertaken as an administrative device, a way of knowing the resources available to a monarch for his own support and for defense of the country. Jones moves on quickly to the concern over population before and after Malthus;[8] he then reviews all of the major 19th century surveys, with a good deal of discussion of their aims, their substance, and the validity of their statistics. National surveys eventually gave way to the census. Then came concern over poverty in the growing cities and the new surveys. The new surveys (London, York, the Five Towns, Merseyside) attempted to determine a poverty line. The poverty was due not to persistent unemployment, but to very low wages. Jones remarks that the First World War forced wages to a much higher level; European and American poverty became the result of unemployment. It might have been in order to note that American industries began to expect to win their own workers as customers, even for motor cars.

I am not certain that, in the new Introduction and in the Afterword, the two American authors (Lazarsfeld and Zeisel) quite understand the American survey movement. It has not really been studied; as did the English survey movement, the American one started out to study poverty. Poverty turned out, in the northern cities, to be ethnic, taking a particular form in each »nationality,« as ethnic groups were called in those days of mass immigration. The movers of the Survey movement had generally been interested in community life; they saw in the »national« communities of American cities a possible resource, if only the immigrants were to become American-ized, but not too thoroughly or demandingly. They should keep some of their picturesque ways. The Charity Organization movement issued a periodical which became The Survey;[9] it all got mixed up with what is now the Russell Sage Foundation.[10]

When I was a student in Chicago in 1925, Robert E. Park was giving a course called The Social Survey. He reviewed everything English and American from Domesday on to the studies of the anthracite mining communities, New York’s East side, Chinatowns, and the several communities of Jews of different ethnic background and religious practice, specialized industrial communities (Detroit and Hollywood). The aim of the course – as I remember it and as I look now at notes and mimeographed materials from it – was to relate the survey to social action. The survey was to be a more careful and »scientific« presentation of the news.

Late in his career, Helen MacGill[11] and I drove Park to see Lazarsfeld in a bare warehouse which was his workshop in Newark. It was Parks (and our) first meeting with Lazarsfeld. He was intrigued with the ingenuity of Lazarsfeld and partner in their studies of pulp magazines. We drove on from there to see the editors of Fortune.[12] On the way Park talked about how Lazarsfeld was inventing techniques for telling the news in a significant way that could be used by government, business, and society generally. Fortune, he thought, would and should tell the news in a larger and longer perspective, reporting trends and the development of new institutions.

Thus social science becomes allied to social action (collective behavior); news was, as Park once wrote, to be understood as a form of knowledge. Perhaps I am going a long way round. Whether Jahoda, Lazarsfeld, and Zeisel would have developed the methods which they have developed and used if there had been no collapse of Austria and no Hitler holocaust, is a question one can speculate on without profit. But the fact remains that they started the study of unemployment just when it was becoming a problem of the whole western industrial world; they moved from little, but sophisticated, Austria at a crucial moment; with singular enterprise and ingenuity they become leaders in the new survey movement of that part of the world which joins the highest level of material consumption of goods and services with some of the world’s most stubborn and tragic unemployment and poverty, a kind of ironically affluent unemployment and poverty when compared with that of most of the world’s population.

Their small book is one of the crucial documents in the career of modern empirical social science (with plenty of implication for the more theoretical as well); also it was a step in three notable personal careers in our field. Bad cess to textbooks.

[1] Das sind Karl Bühler (1879–1963) und seine Ehefrau Charlotte Bühler (1893–1974). Anm. R.M.

[2] Robert Musil (1880–1942): österreichischer Schriftsteller; als sein bedeutendstes Werk gilt der unvollendet gebliebene Roman: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. Roman. (Buch 1: Eine Art Einleitung. Seinesgleichen geschieht.) Berlin: Rowohlt 1930, 1076 S.; (Buch 2: Die Verbrecher. Eine Art Ende.) Berlin 1933, 605 S.; (Buch 3: Aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben von Martha Musil.) Lausanne: Imprimerie Centrale 1943, 463 S. Anm. R.M.

[3] Robert Clarence Stone: US-amerikanischer Soziologe; vgl. Robert C. Stone & Fredric T[human] Schlamp: Welfare and working fathers. Low-income family life styles. With a foreword by Everett C[herrington] Hughes. Lexington, Mass.: Heath Lexington Books 1971, xxix, 284 S. Anm. R.M.

[4] (Seit 1895: Sir) Walter Besant (1836–1901): englischer Schriftsteller und Sozialreformer, nach dessen Tod sein hier angesprochenes, zehnbändiges Werk erschien: The Survey of London. London: Adams & Charles Black 1902–1912, Bd. 1: Early London, prehistoric, Roman, Saxon and Norman. 1908, x, 370 S.; Bd. 2: Mediaeval London, ecclesiastical. 1906, ix, 436 S.; Bd. 3: Mediaeval London, historical & social. 1906, ix, 419 S.; Bd. 4: London in the time of the Tudors. 1904, x, 430 S.; Bd. 5: London in the time of the Stuarts. 1903, xiii, 400 S.; Bd. 6: London in the eighteenth century. 1902, xvii, 667 S.; Bd. 7: London in the nineteenth century. 1909, ix, 421 S.; Bd. 8: London city. 1910, xi, 491 S.; Bd. 9: London north of the Thames. 1911, xii, 682 S.; Bd. 10: London south of the Thames. 1912, xiv, 372 S. Anm. R.M.

[5] Charles Booth (1840–1916): englischer Geschäftsmann und Sozialwissenschaftler, dessen Hauptwerk hier angesprochen wird; zunächst erschienen zwei Bände unter dem Titel: Labour and life of the people. Edited by Charles Booth. London–Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate 1889–1891, Bd. 1: East London, 1889, 598 S.; Bd. 2: London continued., 1891, 607 S. Diese zwei Bände wurden in die Bände 1 bis 4 des nachfolgenden Hauptwerks integriert: Life and labour of the people in London. Edited by Charles Booth. London: Macmillan 1892–1897, Bd. 1: East, Central and South London. 1892, vi, 320 S.; Bd. 2: Streets and population classified. 1892, 235 S. & 60 Doppelseiten; Bd. 3: Blocks of buildings, schools, and immigration. 1892, 306 S.; Bd. 4: The trades of East London. 1893, 354 S.; Bd. 5: Population classified by trades. [1]. 1895, 416 S.; Bd. 6: Population classified by trades. [2]. 1895, 382 S.; Bd. 7: Population classified by trades. [3]. 1896, viii, 508 S.; Bd. 8: Population classified by trades. [4]. 1896, 480 S.; Bd. 9: Comparisons, survey and conclusions. 1897, viii, 454 S.; Bd. [10]: List of maps. [1897], 5 lose Karten. Anm. R.M.

[6] David Caradog Jones (1883–1974): englischer Demograph und Statistiker; vgl. seine Geschichte der englischen Sozialerhebung: Social surveys. New York, N.Y.: Hutchinson’s University Library [1949] (= Hutchinson’s University Library. Economics. 28.), 232 S. Anm. R.M.

[7] Wilhelm I., der Eroberer (William I the Conqueror; um 1027–1087): Normanne, seit 1066 König von England, ließ 1086/87 mit seinem Domesday Book (Gerichtstagsbuch) eine Art Grundkataster des Landes anlegen, der heute eine bedeutende wirtschafts- und sozialgeschichtliche Quelle darstellt. Anm. R.M.

[8] Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834): englischer Nationalökonom und Sozialphilosoph, Begründer des Malthusianismus, eine Bevölkerungstheorie, die davon ausgeht, dass die Größe einer Bevölkerung von der Verfügungsmöglichkeit über Lebensmittel begrenzt und bestimmt werde. Anm. R.M.

[9] The Survey. Social, charitable, civic. A journal of constructive philanthropy (New York, N.Y.), 1.–52. Bd. (1909–1937), herausgegeben von der 1882 zur Bekämpfung der Folgen der wirtschaftlichen Depression gegründeten Charity Organization Society of the City of New York. Anm. R.M.

[10] Russell Sage Foundation: US-amerikanische Stiftung mit Sitz in New York City (New York), 1907 gegründet zur Förderung der Publikation und Verbreitung sozialwissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse insbesondere über soziale Verhältnisse und Lebensbedingungen in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. Anm. R.M.

[11] Helen MacGill Hughes, geborene MacGill (1903–1992): US-amerikanische Soziologin, seit 1927 mit Everett C. Hughes verheiratet. Anm. R.M.

[12] Fortune (New York, N.Y.), bedeutende US-amerikanische Zeitschrift, erscheint seit 1930 als Wirtschaftsmagazin, welches später durch Beiträge aus anderen Bereichen (Politik, Gesellschaft, Technik) erweitert wurde. Anm. R.M.