Literature and Society

Topics: Sociology, Literature, Social science Pages: 24 (6821 words) Published: June 21, 2013
The Relationship of Literature and Society Author(s): Milton C. Albrecht Reviewed work(s): Source: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 59, No. 5 (Mar., 1954), pp. 425-436 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 16/02/2012 05:03 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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In most of theories therelationship literature society of and reflection, influence, socialcontrol and are implied. Literature interpretedreflecting is as norms values, revealing ethos culture, procand as the of the essesofclassstruggle, certain of and types social "Influence" notstrictly reverse reflection, "facts." is the of sincesocialstability cultural Socialcontrol, and idealsareinvolved. however, articulates withone closely version reflection, of extent complex, in though a limited to dynamic societies.

yearsago,' at least as old as Plato's conceptof imitaout pointed fifteen As Mueller in sociologists the UnitedStates have paid tion.4 Systematic application theidea did of and to littleattention literature art; they, not appear,however, untilabout a century pri- and a halfago. The "beginning" have focused socialscientists, likeother might be aspectsofsocial said tobe Madamede Stae's De la litte'rature on marily theinstrumental social consideree Perhapsthisis becausepractical life.2 dans ses rapports les instituavec what- tionssociales,6 so havegrown urgent-but, problems publishedin 1800,in which a in someinterest theartshas theauthor offered socialand historical everthereason, inyearshas increased, terpretation the literature severalnaof and of persisted in recent and Her outlook romantic idealiswas and Of however sporadically.' literary social tions. investi- tic,expressed terms individual soin as of and histories well as of morelimited an num- cialperfectionism. there are,ofcourse, untold Apparently, theory the gations of in aroseout ofthespirit nationalof ber.Ourpurpose thispaperis to examine reflection view- ismspreading throughout some of theircharacteristic Europe and from critically assumptions.One the environmentalism seventeenthof and points and theoretical socie- eighteenth-century is "reflects" In hypothesis thatliterature thinkers.6 general, the is of ty; its supposedconverse thatliterature idea is a manifestation a changein man's hy- perspective, A or influences "shapes" society. third crystallized duringthe ninein is functions socially teenth century philosophies history, in of pothesis thatliterature and stabilize,if not to justify the formulation thetheory evolution, of of to maintain the which maybe and in the sociological conceptions soof and sanctify, socialorder, and cieties their character theory. changing calledthe"social-control" through is successive reflects society ages.7 The idea thatliterature The essentialfunction the reflection of I J. H. Mueller,"Is Art the Productof Its Age?" was to "explain" in social and hisSocial Forces, XIII (March, 1935), 367-76; "The theory Folkway of Art," AmericanJournal of Sociology, torical rather than individualterms the XLIV (September,1938), 222-38. of qualityand greatness literature, well as 2 Kingsley Davis, Human Society (New York: as its content, style, and forms. effect, In it Macmillan Co., 1949), p. 392. emphasized socialand cultural...

Bibliography: n the Sociology of Literaof ture" (University Chicago thesis,1947). 4 The Republic,in The Worksof Plato, trans. B. Jowett(4 vols. in 1; New York: Dial Press, n.d.), II, 378 ff. 5 2 vols.; Paris, 1800. See also De l 'Allemagne (Paris, 1813).
6Max Lerner and Edwin Mims, Jr., "Literature," in Encyclopediaof theSocial Sciences (New York: Macmillan Co., 1933), IX, 538-39.
7 Floyd N. House, The Development Sociology of (New York: McGraw-HillBook Co., 1936).
See also studiesofnationalcharacter, surveyed by Otto Klineberg,TensionsAffecting International Understanding (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1950), pp. 49-58.
14 Martha Wolfenstein and Nathan Leites, Movies: A Psychological Study (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1950), pp. 12-13.
20 Oswald Spengler,The Decline of the West (2 vols.; New York: A. A. Knopf, 1926-28), Vol. I, Introduction.Cf. G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophyof History (New York: Collier& Son, 1900),pp. 61-99, 115-34, 300-302. 21 22
Sociology, (November, LIII 1947), 210-18
51SchUcking, cit.,pp. 4-5. op. Politics," ibid., XX (November-December,1935), 161-66.
69 W. Lloyd Warner and WilliamE. Henry,"The 52 Bernard DeVoto, The LiteraryFallacy (BosRadio Daytime Serial: A Symbolic Analysis," ton:Little, Brown Co., 1944). &
Genetic Psychological Monographs, XXXVII (February, 1948), 3-73.
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