P. V. Y. [d.i. Pauline Vislick Young]

Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal. Edited by the Austrian Economico-psychological Research Institute. Verlag von D. [!] Hirzel in Leipzig, 1933, pp. ix+123

in: Sociology and Social Research. An international journal (Los Angeles, Calif.), 18. Bd., Nr. 1 (September–Oktober 1933), S. 77.

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DIE ARBEITSLOSEN VON MARIENTHAL. Edited by the Austrian Economico-psychological Research Institute. Verlag von D. Hirzel[1] in Leipzig, 1933, pp. ix+123.

The above is »a soziographical inquiry through modern research methods into the psychological situation of a community suffering from prolonged unemployment – an Austrian industrial village with more than three-fourths of its families existing on meager unemployment compensation. To establish friendly relations with the villagers, temporary medical clinics, sewing centers, political units, and clothing auctions were organized and used as a means to an end in the inquiry. Comparative standards of living, family budgets, menus, health conditions, social life, family adjustments, economic and moral resistance to a bleak present and empty future are described in detail. In spite of the strict economic limitations and greatly lowered standard of living no neurotic mass outbreaks occurred, but »the subtle psychological influences brought about by idleness and hopelessness multiplied.« The village is characterized as a »tired community« with a dull regularity, monotonous, immobile, primitive mode of life, but organized on a relatively stable basis. The people are grouped into four classes – recognized as not mutually exclusive – the resigned (48 %); the unbroken by serious limitations and still active and hopeful (16 %); the despondent (11 %): these three classes still maintain orderly households and afford good care to their children; the apathetic (25 %) are the inactive, indolent, irrational, slovenly group with a tendency toward fights and crime. On the whole those used to trials and makeshifts accept their fate philosophically, but those who knew no privations are »conspicuously inactive,« shocked and unable to make adjustments.

The material is valuable, interesting, and for the most part vivid. The method of investigation is questionable, however, because of its »breach of confidence« and expense of set-up. American and English inquiries of similar type and import indicate that the trained participative observer is able to obtain full coöperation when the true aims of the inquiry and the interests to the subjects are explained in simple terms. The success of a community research project depends to a degree on the ability of the investigator to receive an invitation to »come again« undisguised.

In an extensive appendix the history of Soziography is interestingly traced in its French, English, German, and American developments, but shows no relation to the above study.


[1] Recte S. Hirzel. Anm. R.M.