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Herold, C.M. (1949). Social Disorganization: By Robert E. L. Faris. New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1948. 481 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:524-525.

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(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:524-525

Social Disorganization: By Robert E. L. Faris. New York: The Ronald Press Co., 1948. 481 pp.

Carl M. Herold Author Information

'Social disorganization' is defined as 'a disturbance in the patterns and mechanisms of human relations, as distinguished from other disturbances' of societies based on catastrophes like famine, epidemics, etc., which as such need not necessarily produce social disorganization. In a footnote (p. 21) the theoretical criticism that the judgment whether certain social mechanisms are functioning satisfactorily (the diagnosis whether a state of social disorganization exists in certain social mechanisms is dependent on 'arbitrary moral approval or disapproval') is dismissed with the remark that all concepts referring to human behavior are necessarily relative in character, and that refusing to operate with such concepts would make study of human behavior impossible. The reviewer feels that this is only partly true, and that the real objection in the above-mentioned criticism is not the relativity of such concepts, but their subjectivity. Our suspicion about the scientific approach of the author is increased when we read such sentences as 'A decline of sacredness [of social institutions] opens the way to disorganization' instead of the statement that such decline is merely a symptom of disorganization (p. 29).

The author undertakes to investigate the 'nature' of social disorganization 'as the physician studies anatomy and physiology' (p. 4) in order to prescribe an effective treatment of the social illness. But by relegating the investigation of the causes of social disintegration to the field of the economist, Faris merely studies the symptomatology of the social disease, and therefore can only

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