Who is William Ogburn?

Who is William Ogburn?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

He is a sociologist who is a citizen of the United States. He explained social change with cultural evolution.

Born on June 29, 1886, in Butler, Georgia, Ogburn died on April 27, 1959, in Tallahassee, Florida.

He completed his higher education at Mercer University and received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1912. He taught economics, political science, history, and sociology at Princeton and Washington Universities and Reed College from 1911 to 1918. He was professor of sociology at Columbia between 1919-1927 and at the University of Chicago between 1927-1951. After retiring in 1951, he lectured at the Universities of Calcutta and Delhi in India, and at Nuffield College in England, and was president of the American Sociological and American Statistical Associations. He became the first president of the Society for the History of Technology in 1959. He has held many positions in the American government as a consultant or researcher.

Ogburn criticizes the views that explain social change with the biological evolution of man, and argued that it can be explained by cultural evolution. In his book Social Change, With Respect to Culture and Original Nature (“Social Change in Nature and Culture”), he explained cultural evolution in terms of four factors: innovation, accumulation, diffusion, and correction. According to him, at the beginning of these factors is the innovation factor, which is a combination of existing and known cultural elements. In the process of cultural evolution, innovations accumulate and spread to other cultural areas. According to Ogburn, who sets out from the determination that all elements of a culture are related to each other, the imbalance created in the society by the innovation that emerges in an area disappears as a result of the correction process and the society regains balance. Defining the delays in this process as “cultural backwardness”, Ogburn argued that in the process of social evolution spanning thousands of years, cultural lags may be so slow that it cannot be clearly noticed, or they may be so large that they endanger the integrity of a society.

Ogburn argued that the technological development, which he regarded as a widespread innovation in the 20th century, affected the economic organization, which in turn affected social institutions and ultimately caused a change in people’s social philosophy. In his work on social change, he dealt with specific areas such as family, cities, population, legislation and voting, war and international relations.

Ogburn, who is of the opinion that sociological theories can be proved by quantitative methods, gave importance to statistical methods and quantitative approach. This approach became influential among sociologists after World War II.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook