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What Social Classes Owe To Each Other Paperback – May 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (May 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142861561X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1428615618
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,654,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Graham Sumner (1840–1910) was an American academic and professor at Yale College. For many years he had a reputation as one of the most influential teachers there. He was a polymath with numerous books and essays on American history, economic history, political theory, sociology, and anthropology. He is credited with introducing the term "ethnocentrism," a term intended to express his anti-imperialism, in his book Folkways (1906). Sumner was also the first to teach a course entitled "sociology" in the United States, before even Émile Durkheim had established the formal discipline in Europe. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jasleen Matharu on December 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
First published in 1883, Sumner's "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other" is an excellent source for the promotion of limited government. Sumner talks about the "Forgotten Man" in context to the socio-political and economic of a state. He defines the differences between the "weak", "poor" and the "burden" and how the humanitarians, reformers and the philathropists of our society seek forced charities from the "Forgotten Man" to support the above. In this book he promotes the principles of democracy and voluntary charity. He gives solid reason and logical explainations about his philosophy. I higly recommend this 145 page read to the students of Political Theory and Philosophy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Moss on December 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
The term "social Darwinism" was popularized by Richard Hofstadter's interesting 1944 book ~Social Darwinism In American Thought~ which has an entire chapter dedicated to the author now under review (William Graham Sumner). The term "social Darwinism" today is nothing more than a clever epitaph used by people to evade discussion of ideas and stifle debate (for the most part). Once invoked it congers up images of brutal savagery that coincides with terms like "survival of the fittest," (coined by H. Spencer) "nature, red tooth and claw," "Root, hog, or die." etc. So what is "social Darwinism?" In this case I will refer to the type fixated with Herbert Spencer and W. G. Sumner. That is the individualist laissez-faire social Darwinism that has associated itself with the description above and the late 19th century "survival of the fittest" capitalism that portrays imagery depicting the viciousness of a world dominated by a dog-eat-dog type individualism.

This 1883 book ~What Social Classes Owe Each Other~ by W.G. Sumner is often seen as the pinnacle work espousing the social Darwinism doctrine of the late 19th century. The book was originally a compilation of eleven short essays that were delivered (January 1883) in response to an invitation from Harper's Weekly.

I believe there is a problem with the simple depictions (as described in the first paragraph) that are often attributed to William Graham Sumner. After careful reading, what I found in Sumner's work was something more complex and different from the earlier stated attributes that have been overlooked/forgotten because of his alleged association with "social Darwinism.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. New on June 20, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No author has ever done a better job, in such a short book, of taking the bark off the socialist concepts of one social class owing anything to another. The philosophy of Sumner, who was a professor at Yale, (but a great thinker, nonetheless!) has shown up in the rhetoric of many politicians throughout this century. The Marxist idea of forced redistribution of the wealth is profoundly defeated. Every politician should be required to read this book before taking office. Sumner's caustic pen and penetrating analysis make this one of the best five I've ever read in the Annals of Freedom.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Whatever you think of William Graham Sumner's argument, he expresses classical Social Darwinist theory quite eloquently. The title of the book, "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other," is answered by the author, essentially, as: "nothing." At one point in his body of work, he noted that life is like "Root, hog, or die." You have to work hard to make it or. . . .

A classic line from this work illustrates the logic (Page 17): "certain ills belong to the hardships of human life. They are natural. They are part of the struggle with Nature for existence. We cannot blame our fellow-men for our share of these. My neighbor and I are struggling to free ourselves from these ills. The fact that my neighbor has succeeded in his struggle better than I constitutes no grievance for me."

If you have value as a person, you will "make it." And those who cannot make it have no claim on the bounty that your success has created. It is a perspective that can be associated with the phrase "Nature, red in tooth and claw." A battle, a struggle for survival between individuals.

Most biologists of behavior today would reject this mano e mano perspective, noting that altruism and cooperation are a considerable part of human nature--as is conflict.

In his day, though, Sumner was a major figure, along with Herbert Spencer and others, in the Social Darwinist movement.
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Book is unreadable due to hundreds of strange typos, such as this one on section 1 page 3: "especially by JTgTTTrgTi Hvn'tprp|jrLwhi<?]i a,".

The book I received looks exactly like the one in the picture above* (linked below), and was published by "General Books" and says it was made via OCR software. There appears to be no quality control on the product.

* it appears my review is included for all publications which is not what I intended. Amazon will not let me link a picture from their own website, so I will describe the bad book:

Publisher General Books (generalbooks . net)

beige or light brown plain cover

words on the cover are:
What Social
Classes Owe to
Each Other

William
Graham
Sumner
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