Thomas William(1863-1947) pioneer American sociologist, founder member of the CHICAGO SCHOOL. His major work (with Znaniecki) is The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-20). He is best known for his use of the LIFE HISTORY as a method of reflecting social history in the biographies of individuals. A theme running through his work is the link between culture and personality, explored through a method that places the individual at the centre of the analysis. He also formulated the idea of a SOCIAL ACTOR's definition of the situation’, explained in his much quoted aphorism ‘If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences’.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000