segunda-feira, 26 de julho de 2010

A morte de Selznick e sua contribuição para a Sociologia do Direito

Remembering Philip Selznick
by David Lieberman, University of California, Berkeley

Philip Selznick, Professor Emeritus of Law and Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, died on June 12, 2010, following a long period of illness. With his death, the Law and Society community lost one of its post-war academic giants, whose scholarship and leadership helped shape the theory and sociology of organizations and transform the social study of law.

Selznick’s defining experiences occurred as an undergraduate at the City College of New York which he entered in 1935 at age 17. It was here that he was exposed to the philosophical materials, especially John Dewey’s pragmatism, and to the European social theory which informed and inspired his lifetime’s research. No less shaping was the political education of these years, when he joined and sometimes led a Trotskyite youth organization and met as friend, collaborator or adversary a group of future and fellow luminaries who included (among others) Irving Kristol, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Herbert Garfinkel, and Seymour Martin Lipset, and his first wife, Gertrude Jaeger. Many of the themes and issues to which he devoted himself over the next 70 years – the relationship between individual leadership and bureaucratic forms; the fate of values and ideals in the processes of organizations and politics; the social and cultural forms that best strengthen human community – received their first rehearsal in the heady setting of student radicalism and anti-Stalinist socialism.

Selznick's academic training was interrupted by military service in the US Army from 1943-46. He completed his Columbia University doctorate in sociology in 1947, under the supervision of Robert K. Merton. Two years later he published the now-classic study, TVA and the Grass Roots, which launched his academic career. The book, along with the later volumes, The Organizational Weapon (1952) and Leadership in Administration (1957), established him as an authority in the theory and sociology of organizations and a founder of the institutional perspective in organization theory. Selznick himself later characterized these and similar investigations as “preoccupied with the conditions and processes that frustrate ideals or, instead, give them life and hope.” These initial volumes secured Selznick’s lasting impact within academic sociology; an influence that was further enhanced through his 1955 textbook, co-authored with Leonard Broom, Sociology: A Text with Adapted Readings (7th edition, 1981), which introduced the discipline to over a generation of undergraduates in the US.

In 1952, following positions at the University of Minnesota and UCLA, Selznick joined the Berkeley Sociology Department as an assistant professor. He chaired the Department from 1963-67, an assignment made all the more challenging by the debates and fractures generated by the Free Speech Movement. Though he rejected later student aims and militancy on the Berkeley campus, in 1965 he voiced a forthright defense of student free speech and protest in a celebrated exchange with his Department colleague, Nathan Glazer, which appeared in Commentary magazine.

Selznick’s position in post-war academic sociology was always distinctive in its concern to make ideals and values objects of central concern and to enrich social research through the perspectives of philosophy as well as other disciplines. (He would eventually refer to this capacious form of social inquiry as “a humanist science”.) In the 1950s, his attention increasingly turned to the social study of law. He developed an approach that ambitiously combined elements of traditional jurisprudence concerning the aims and nature of law with social science understandings of organizational dynamics and constraints. The resulting mixture of institutional realism, social theory and normative inquiry – embodied in such works as Law, Society and Industrial Justice (1969) and Law and Society in Transition (1978), the latter co-authored with Berkeley colleague Philippe Nonet - offered a novel approach to the understanding of legality and the rule of law, while making a decisive contribution to the developing field of “law and society.”

Through a series of institutional innovations which again owed much Selznick’s vision and leadership, Berkeley emerged as one of several major centers for the developing law and society field. The Berkeley Center for the Study of Law and Society, where Selznick served as Founding Director from 1961-72, became a leading destination for interdisciplinary research on law and legal practices. Scholars attached at the Center were active in the founding of the Law and Society Association, and many of the Association’s past and current leaders have had affiliation with the Center as visiting scholars, participants and directors. In 1978, Selznick became the Founding Chair of Berkeley Law’s doctoral program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy, the first and for many years sole Ph.D. program based in a major US law school.

Retirement in 1984 did little to diminish the scale of Selznick’s scholarship and renown. In 1992, he published the work he considered his magnum opus, The Moral Commonwealth: Social Theory and the Promise of Community. The work, whose size and scope recalled an earlier tradition in social theory, provided an expansion and synthetic recasting of past writing on law and organization theory, as well as the opportunity to link his concern with the institutional supports for moral ideals with the then-current “communitarian” turn in liberal political philosophy. Further elaboration of the latter theme appeared in his 2002, The Communitarian Persuasion. His last book, published in 2008 at the age of 89, A Humanist Science, offered a final statement of the moral and methodological ideals that guided his distinguished research.

In recent years, Selznick’s own contributions became the object of scholarly attention and institutional recognition. The Australian social theorist, Martin Krygier, whose writing on Selznick has strongly influenced this tribute, completed a book-length study, Philip Selznick: Ideals in the World (forthcoming, Stanford University Press). Other extended discussions include Sanne Taekema’s The Concept of Ideals in Legal Theory (2002) and a forthcoming article by Paul van Seters in Law and Social Inquiry. Roger Cotterell and Krygier separately conducted extensive interviews with Selznick which are archived at Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. Extracts of the Cotterell interviews were published in the Journal of Law and Society in 2004. A festschrift collection, Legality and Community: On the Intellectual Legacy of Philip Selznick (eds. Robert A. Kagan, Martin Krygier, and Kenneth Winston), appeared in 2002. Among many well-deserved honors, Selznick received the Law and Society Association’s Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize in 2003, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Sociological Association Sociology of Law Section in 2009.

For those who met Selznick as a well-established academic leader, it was hard to imagine his pre-war student beginnings as a radical militant. His published writings eschewed rigid categories and doctrinaire approaches. His progressive politics and scholarly convictions, nourished alike from the resources of Dewey and the Pragmatist tradition, insisted on a toleration of ambiguity, the recognition of diverse and pluralistic commitments, and a firmly ecumenical spirit. In his personal dealings, he displayed a large heart, easy humor and generous loyalties, and an endless delight in the exploration of new places and scholarly domains. These qualities made him a revered teacher, mentor and friend to generations of scholars and students. His teaching, warmth and example will be sorely missed by colleagues, friends, and his beloved wife, Doris Fine.


Reflections on the Passing of Phil Selznick
by Richard "Red" Schwartz, Yale University and Syracuse University

There live among us certain people who are recognizably larger than life. When such a person passes away, we who remain are filled with regret that they have left us. Soon afterward, though, we realize they are still very much with us – continuing as in the past to guide and inspire us.
Philip Selznick was just such a person. For all who knew him – and many who did not – Phil’s influence will live on. His work and his personality provide an example for us to follow. Essentially he helps us to find new projects and to develop, in what we have already done, new potentials to move forward toward greater understanding.

Phil’s vita exemplifies a wonderful way to spend a scholarly life. Each of his written works draws together available knowledge and presents it in an original and insightful way. His sociology text, written with Leonard Broom, helped students to understand the basic sociological perspective. That was no easy task, considering that sociology can otherwise appear to be an impenetrable jungle of ideas, methods, and findings. From there, Phil went on to demonstrate how the sociological viewpoint can illuminate the inner workings of organizations as diverse as the TVA and the Soviet Politburo.
After that, Phil turned his great scholarly talent to the field of law and society. At the time, law was a virtually unplowed field – not yet discovered by American sociologists. Unlike Weber and Durkheim, sociologists in America acted as if law lay beyond their reach. Busily describing the structure and pathology of inner cities, they largely ignored the role of law in controlling or exacerbating the phenomena they were studying. Phil, independently intellectual as always, pioneered the study of law and society.
Starting with a Russell Sage grant in 1961, Phil organized at Berkeley the Center for the Study of Law and Society. The initial grant was arranged by a distinguished urban sociologist, Leonard S. Cottrell, Jr., who knew Phil and his work well. Slats Cottrell was looking at the time for ways of accessing law as a legitimate subject for sociology. Knowing Phil’s work and character, he saw that the combination of Phil and Berkeley would be the best place in the world for developing a whole new field of sociology in America. He figured that if anyone could do it, Phil could. He was so right!
The evidence is clear and convincing – especially for those of us who watched from a distance. The Berkeley Center has led the way in the field of law & society. It fostered the talent of a generation of scholars whose works will be familiar to the readers of this Newsletter. To name a few: Philippe Nonet, Jerry Skolnick, David Matza, and Shelly Messinger were leading sociologists who worked there. Phil also welcomed scholars from law, political science, history, economics, anthropology, and philosophy.

His spirit of openness to constructive thinking continues to be manifest in the Center, now capably headed by Calvin Morrill. That intellectual development has had ramifications for scholarship worldwide. In a world much in need of law as part of a civil path to peace, the heritage that Phil left will continue to inspire generations of scholars in the years to come. Ave atque vale, Phil, Hail and Farewell

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