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Towards the World Culture Society

Florian Znaniecki’s Culturalism


Elzbieta Halas

If the new cultural sociology is to gain firm grounds, it should rediscover the classic studies on cultural dynamics and cultural systems. This book contributes to a better understanding of Florian Znaniecki as an eminent culturologist and the lasting relevance of his theory of cultural becoming. Znaniecki opted for a humanistic approach that he called culturalism. Culturalism, founded on the principle of the humanistic coefficient, is applied also to the cultural person. The concept of social values makes this cultural approach an original one. The cultural logic and cultural ethos of Znaniecki’s thought is inherent in the very principle of a creative evolution of culture, augmenting his vision of a new civilization of the future and a world culture society.


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5 An Unrecognized Forerunner of Symbolic Interactionism / 83


chapter 5 An Unrecognized Forerunner of Symbolic Interactionism This chapter attempts to present Florian Znaniecki as a representative of symbolic in- teractionism. It is not intended to enlarge his merits beyond measure by recovering his hitherto unknown and perhaps doubtless achievements. The present state of reception and interpretation of Znaniecki’s ideas is the reason for which this subject should be dealt with. The reception of his works still seems relatively restricted. For sociologists, Znaniecki’s greatest contribution to their branch of knowledge is his collaboration in The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. It is due to the fact that William I. Thomas is one of the recognized founders of symbolic interactionism and that The Polish Peasant is considered one of the first works written from this perspective that Znaniecki’s name may be found in the works of this sociological school ( Stryker 1980: 32). Unfortunately, his remaining works are not usually associated with symbolic interactionism. Similarly, sociologists of knowledge have a high regard for The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge. Znaniecki’s concept of nation in Modern Nationalities is also regard- ed as novel. However, his own original theoretical system on which these works had been based has not yet received proper attention. Being considered ‘exceptional’ and ‘distinguished’, it is nevertheless absent from most serious theoretical sociological dis- cussions. It may be assumed that this is due to the fact that Znaniecki’s concepts have not been adopted by any traditional trend of sociology, with the exception of the vague contexts...

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