Frank W Young
This collection of articles and essays embodies a new approach to sociology based on the original meaning of the word. Its central concept is 'community,' which is defined to cover units as small as the household and as large as the nation-state. Individuals are a special case of community. So defined, communities account for almost all the independent social organization of the planet. At every level, communities must deal with unpredictable threats from nature, other communities and internal conflict. Success in this effort, as measured by indicators of average health, depends on the activation of a range of problem-solving strategies: applying specialized knowledge and skills, debating the merits of conflicting courses of action and, if these fail, mobilizing behind a reform movement. If a threat is overwhelming, the community may revert to an earlier, partly mythical, way of life. The ratio of problem-solving capacity to threat determines the chances of success. ¶ This perspective reflects the neo-Durkheimian social ecology that sociologists at the University of Chicago pioneered at the beginning of the 20th century, and it rejects the 'individual in society' framework that guides most of contemporary sociology. As presented in these articles and essays, it offers alternative explanations for current findings on the negative impact of corporate production, income inequality and the Islamic Counter-Reformation, among other well-known problems. ¶ Frank W. Young is emeritus professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University, where he taught for thirty-three years. He completed his PhD in Anthropology at Cornell in 1957 and returned to Cornell after fieldwork via the Department of Development Sociology. His fieldwork began in Nova Scotia, where he studied the impact of urbanization on two fishing villages. This study was followed by similar comparative research in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tunisia and the Southern Tier region of New York State. In 1968 he spent a year at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and in 1975 he was a senior fellow at the East-West Center.