The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Florian Znaniecki

Florian Witold Znaniecki (January 15 1882 - March 23 1958) was a philosopher and sociologist. He taught and wrote in Poland and United States. 44th President of the American Sociological Association. Founder of academic sociology studies in Poland. His theoretical and methodological work contributed to the development of the sociology as a distinct academic discipline.

He gained international fame as the co-author with William Thomas of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America 1918-1920 considered the foundation of modern empirical sociology and humanist sociology .

His Presidential Address, "Basic Problems of Contemporary Sociology," was delivered on September 8, 1954 at the Association's Annual Meeting in Urbana, Illinois, and was later published in the American Sociological Review (ASR October 1954 Vol 19 No 5, pp 519-524).



Florian Znaniecki was born January 15 1882 in Świetniki , Poland. He studied at the Geneva, Zurich and Paris and obtained PhD at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. Znaniecki came to Chicago in United States in 1914 and returned to Second Polish Republic in 1920 to accept a the first Polish chair in sociology at the University in Poznań. There he organised the Polish Sociological Institute (Polish Polski Instytut Socjologii) and began publishing The Polish Sociological Review (Polish Polski Przegląd Socjologiczny). Keeping in touch with American sociologists, he lectured at Columbia University in New York in 1931-1933 and during the summer of 1939.

This summer ended the Polish stage of his career, since German invasion on Poland and the start of the World War II prevented his return to Poland. He then moved to the University of Illinois, where he taught until his retirement, deciding not to return to the totalitarian communist People's Republic of Poland. He died on March 23, 1958 in the town of Champaign, USA.


Zaniecki proposed the culturalism (Polish kulturalizm) perespective in sociology. According to it, sociology should deal with culture's effects, since it is a science about the culture. Zaniecki's culturalism is one of the ideas that lied groundword for the modern sociological views of antipositivism.

Zaniecki propsed that social phenomena (Polish czynności społeczne) should be treated as active or potential subject of somebody's actions (humanist principle , Polish współczynnik humanistyczny). According to this principle, the indivudual's experience and ideas are of utmost importance and the sociologist should look at the reality as one of its participants (subiectively), not as an independent obsever (obiectively). As one of the first sociologists, he started analyzing the personal documents like letters, autobiographies, diaries and similar items. Zaniecki's social phenomena are a larger term then Max Weber's social actions.

According to Zaniecki, the sociology should analyze the social relations, which are composed of values. Their basic element is a human being. He recognized following four closed relations:

  • social acts (Polish czyny społeczne) - the most simple, like greeting or pleading, each composed of elements like: person, tool, subject, method, result
  • social relations (Polish stosunki społeczne)- need at least two person and a platform, like privilige or obligation
  • social group (Polish grupy społeczne)- any group which some people recognize as a separate entity
  • social personalities (Polish osobowości społeczne)- which are created under influence of social movements

Zaniecki also defined four types of character and personality:

  • humorous man (Polish człowiek zabawny)- develops among those who have much time, treats work as fun,
  • work man (Polish człowiek pracy)- develops among the working class social class, treat work as life necessity,
  • well-behaved man (Polish człowiek dobrze wychowany)- develops among the intelligentsia social class,
  • deviant man (Polish człowiek zboczeniec (dewiant))- easily distinguishable among others, not always for negative, he can be a genius or criminal,


In English:

  • The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (co-author: William I. Thomas, 5 tomes, published during 19l8-1920),
  • Cultural Reality (Chicago 1919),
  • The Laws of Social Psychology (Warszawa-Kraków-Poznań 1926),
  • The Method of Sociology (Nowy Jork 1934),
  • Social Actions (Nowy Jork 1936),
  • The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge (Nowy Jork 1940),
  • Cultural Sciences. Their Origin Development (Urbana 1952),
  • Modern Nationalities (Urbana 1952),
  • Social Relations and Social Roles (San Francisco 1965),
  • On Humanistic Sociology (selection of works under redaction of R. Bierstedt, Chicago i London 1969),
  • The Social Role of the University Student (Poznań 1994).

In Polish:

  • Zagadnienie wartości w filozofii (Warszawa 1910),
  • Humanizm i poznanie (Warszawa 1912),
  • Upadek cywilizacji zachodniej. Szkic z pogranicza filozofii kultury i socjologii (Poznań 1921),
  • Wstęp do socjologii (Poznań 1922),
  • Socjologia wychowania (Tom I Warszawa 1928, Tom II Warszawa 1930),
  • Miasto w świadomości jego obywateli (Poznań 1932),
  • Ludzie teraźniejsi a cywilizacja przyszłości (Lwów-Warszawa 1934),
  • Nauki o kulturze (Cultural Sciences. Their Origin Development, wyd. polskie Warszawa 1971),
  • Chłop polski w Europie i Ameryce (The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, wyd. polskie Warszawa 1976),
  • Społeczne role uczonych. Pisma wybrane (The Social Role of the Man of Knowledge, wyd. polskie Warszawa 1984),
  • Pisma filozoficzne (Tom I Warszawa 1987, Tom II Warszawa 1991),
  • Współczesne narody (Modern Nationalities, wyd. polskie Warszawa 1990),
  • Rzeczywistość kulturowa (Cultural Reality, wyd. polskie Warszawa 1990),
  • Społeczna rola studenta uniwersytetu (The Social Role of the University Student, wyd. polskie Poznań 1997).

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 10:33:30
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04