The names William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki have come tobe linked in the minds of generations of scholars because ThePolish Peasant in Europe and America is their common masterpiece.It is for this reason, although their cast of mind and even theirpersonalities differed in many ways, they will be treated togetherin this chapter. Their work is intertwined in the history of sociology,and their lives may be best approached in terms of their contrapuntalrelationships.

Given this focus on their common work, The Polish Peasant will be discussed first, even though both authors, and Thomasparticularly, had already made other noteworthy contributionsprior to their joint enterprise. The purpose of The PolishPeasant was to provide a documented sociological treatmentof the life-experiences of Polish countrymen as they came to beinvolved in the major social changes that attended their movesfrom the relative security and rootedness of their native villagesto the uprooting wilderness of American urban life. My emphasis,however, here, as elsewhere, is not on the detailed findings ofthis work, but on the major theoretical underpinnings that giveit a significance well beyond its stated purpose.

From Coser, 1977:511.

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