William I. Thomas

William Isaac Thomas (1863 - 1947), was an American sociologist.

  • migration studies
  • 社會學的人類學研究法、自傳與個人文獻研究
According to an anecdote told by Thomas himself, it was a complete accident that 
inspired him to use personal written material as an ethnographic source and to 
develop the biographic approach in sociology, which would later establish his 
lasting reputation in sociology. 

While walking down a street near his home in Chicago, Thomas was almost hit by a 
garbage bag which had been thrown out of a window. The bag burst open and Thomas 
discovered a letter in it, which he curiously picked up to discover it was written 
by a Polish woman immigrant.

He spent the next years collecting both oral reports and written materials in the 
Chicago Polish community and its country of origin. He utilised a variety of documents 
ranging from newspaper reports, archives of organisations, to personal letters and 
diaries, which he acquired by placing advertisements in the Chicago Polish-language 
press - offering, e.g., 10 to 20 cents per letter sent from Poland.

Thomas theorem: “If men define situations as real they are real in their consequences”. 如果人定義情境為實,則結果為實。 [Thomas, William I.; Thomas, Dorothy: The Child in America (Alfred Knopf, 1929, 2nd ed., p. 572)]

  • definition of situation

Situational Analysis

Thomas's Situational Analysis - http://www2.pfeiffer.edu/~lridener/DSS/Thomas/THOMASW6.HTML

  • 上述的人–高等動物,有權力拒絕服從較早時間前的刺激…. 我們稱之為抑制的能力…..
  • 所有初步的自決行為,總是有需要經過一評估與考慮的階段 ,我們稱此為「情境定義」(definition of the situation)。…
  • 不僅具體行為依靠「情境定義」,漸漸的各種「情境定義」也會影響生涯規劃與性格。
  • 但幼童總是出生在人群中,而所有普通類型的情境,也都可能已經制定了界定和相應的行為規則,他卻沒有機會不受干涉地依自己意願自行定義情境….
  • 因此自發性的社群情境定義總是與社會提供的情境定義產生對抗。
  • 道德規範是由連續的情境定義建立的,一組表達自己願望的行為規則。個人往往傾向於享樂的選擇、愉悅第一;和社會效用的選擇、安全第一…. 而這正是道德規範(moral code)浮現之關鍵。

related: situation

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