A Survey of the Foundations of Order
Social Control falls within social psychology, which is the branch of knowledge that deals with the psychic interplay between man and his environment. In Ross' terms, one of these branches, social ascendency, deals with the domination of society over the individual. Another, individual ascendency, embraces such topics as invention, leadership, the role of great men, and deals with the domination of the individual over society.
Social ascendency is divided into social infl uence— mob mind, fashion, convention, custom, public opinion, and the like—and social control. Th e former is occupied with social domination that is without intention or purpose. The latter is concerned with social domination that is intended and that fulfi ls a function in the life of society. At the start of the twentieth century this work played an important role in the origination of social psychology as a distinct field.
Ross sought to determine how far the order we see about us is due to infl uences that reach men and women without social intervention. Investigation shows that the personality freely unfolds under conditions of healthy fellowship and may arrive at goodness on its own, and that order is explained partly by this streak in human nature and partly by the infl uence of social surroundings. Ross' book separates the individual's contribution to social order from that of society, and, brings to light everything that is considered in the social contribution of the individual. Th is classic volume is an important contribution to the history of ideas.
Edward Alsworth Ross (1866-1951) was known as one of the founders of American sociology and was most famous for his view that the purpose of sociology is the reform of society. He was also professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin. Some of his work includes Sin and Society, Changing America and The Social Trend.
Matthias Gross is senior research scientist in the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on the history of the social sciences, environmental sociology, and science and technology studies.