Date of Award

Spring 1968

Document Type



Sociology & Anthropology

First Advisor

Sister Virginia McGreevey

Second Advisor

Francis Wiegenstein

Third Advisor

C. Kenneth Calvin


The relationship of freedom and social class is an especially broad one. Its nature is both philosophical and sociological, hence to approach it effectively, both disciplines must be employed. This approach is often criticized by the "hard" sociologists, yet there is a serious problem which arises in the union of man with his environment, and this should not be avoided simply because its premises are not always operational. It is largely a problem of values, of balancing ideals with practical necessities. The difficulty is as old as human society, but It grows increasingly acute with each decade.

To analyze a problem as vast as this it must be approach in somewhat of a broad manner, yet always consistent with the concrete phenomena. To approach it very broadly is to lose sight of the problem among abstractions. To deal with it emprically poses the threat of never reaching the principle of the problem. This study is constructed with this in mind.

On an intellectual plane, there are two opposing trends of thought which are concerned with man in society: sociologism and existentialism. At the risk of oversimplification, they might be ideally characterized in the following manner. Existentialism says that man makes society and has primacy over it. Conversely, sociologism says that society makes man, and has primacy over him. An important consideration here is that these notions have more than a conceptual existence. They are formulated only upon the basis of actual human experience. Consciously or unconsciously, these ideas are personnified in human existence.

This study does not attempt to demonstrate that one of these concepts is right and the other wrong. What it does hope to illustrate is that one of these notions cannot be held to the exclusion of the other without a serious conflict. While only the man representing the thought of sociologism is explicitly examined here, the consequence of total adherence to existential thought is implicitly realized. Quite simply this means that while only one side of the picture is analyzed, the other side, because of its opposing nature, is subtly recognized.