Tiryakian_Global Altruism 3.doc - Global Altruism Some Considerations Edward A Tiryakian Department of Sociology Duke University Prepared for Vincent

Tiryakian_Global Altruism 3.doc - Global Altruism Some...

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12/1/19 Global Altruism: Some Consideration s Edward A. Tiryakian Department of Sociology Duke University Prepared for Vincent Jeffries,ed., Handbook of Public Sociology . Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 0
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Global Altruism: Some Consideration s Introduction Pitirim Sorokin was a sociological pioneer in many important fields, from the sociology of revolutions, to comparative theories, the dynamics of large-scale change, and the sociology of time. 1 For the most part, and unusual for the discipline, they have not lost their actuality for getting a perspective on our contemporary world. I take as an example which very much has global relevance today his study originally published in Russian in 1922, and available in English only since 1975: Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs . 2 Sorokin (and his wife) had observed and experienced first-hand the terrible famine that swept Russia in the immediate post-war years following the Soviet revolution. He had gone far beyond observation to a meticulous study of historical records in peacetime and wartime to investigate comparatively the effects of hunger and famine in social relationships. The finished work is every bit as much of a reference at the close of this century’s first decade as it was nearly 80 years ago, with perhaps an even larger sphere of relevance . since the The sharp 1 The Sociology of Revolution , Philadelphia: Lippincott 1925; Contemporary Sociological Theories , New York: Harper & Row, 1928; Social and Cultural Dynamics, 4 volumes, 1937-1941, New York: Bedminster; P.A. Sorokin and Robert K. Merton, “ Social Time: Methodological and Functional Analysis,” American Journal of Sociology , 42 (March 1937): 615-29. 2 Translated and with a Prologue by Elena P. Sorokin, edited and with an introduction by T. Lynn Smith, Gainesville, FL: University Presses of Florida, 1975. 2
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rise of energy and other commodity prices, the increase of population in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, intensive ethnic conflicts, and growing social inequalities in other “emerging markets” have together made problematic much progress in human development in its basic aspects of subsistence, such as a minimum income for food and shelter , and even personal safety. . At the beginning of the new century (indeed, a new millennium), the United Nations sponsored a Millennium Summit of world leaders, from which was formulated a project to be realized by 2015 of improving world conditions in meeting eight major goals, collectively known as the Millennium Development Goals. I will shortly indicate how this ties-in with the general theme of this paper, but let us note at present that the first goal is to “eradicate extreme hunger and poverty.” The criterion was initially set as the population living below $1 a day, but some improvement (notably in China) has “raised” the threshold level to $2 a day. Still, T t he United Nations Human Development Report for 2007/2008 indicates that no less than 73 countries had ten percent or more of its population living below $2 a
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