Sorokin Pitirim

Sorokin Pitirim

(1889-1968) Russian-born US sociologist. Secretary to Prime Minister Kerensky in the provisional Russian government in 1917 and exiled from Russia in 1922, Sorokin settled in the US in 1924. His earliest sociological writing in English, Sociology of Revolutions (1925), drew upon his experience of the Russian Revolution. A pathbreaking study, Social Mobility (1927) emphasized the disruptive as well as the creative effects of social mobility. Sorokin's work subsequently was usually on the grand scale, as seen particularly in his studies of macro-historical change, e.g. Social and Cultural Dynamics, 4 vols. (1937-41) and his irreverent and provocative surveys of types of sociological theory, notably Contemporary Sociological Theory (1928) and Sociological Theories of Today (1966). Rather than accepting prevailing evolutionary or developmental models Sorokin regarded societies as best understood as subject to cyclical, though irregular, patterns of change. In the latter part of his career Sorokin's role in US sociology was increasingly on the margins as a somewhat eccentric critic of both American sociology and American society. Social disintegration and cultural crisis could only be overcome, he suggested, by a new altruism.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000