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Autobiographical notes on life events and research topics


By ppk147 - Posted on 29 February 2008

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Early Years

I was born January 21, 1889, and lived up to the age of eleven among the Komi people, one of the Ugro-Finnish ethnic groups, in the North of Russia. My Russian father was an itinerant "master of gilding, silvering, and ikon-making" (as his guild certificate testified).  How and for what reasons he moved from the Russian city Velikiy Ustyug to the Komi region (a distance of more than three hundred miles) and remained there up to his death, I do not know...  

External Course of My Life

Eventfulness has possibly been the most significant feature of my life-adventure. In a span of seventy-three years I have passed through several cultural atmospheres: pastoral-hunter's culture of the Komi; first the agricultural, then the urban culture of Russia and Europe; and, finally, the megalopolitan, technological culture of the United States. Starting my life as a son of a poor itinerant artisan and peasant mother, I have subsequently been a farmhand, itinerant artisan, factory worker, clerk, teacher, conductor of a choir, revolutionary, political prisoner, journalist, student, editor of a metropolitan paper, member of Kerensky's cabinet, an exile, pro­fessor at Russian, Czech, and American universities, and a scholar of an international reputation...

Visible Factors of My Early Mental Life

As a general rule, the contents of the unintegrated and yet-unfilled mind of a child are largely determined by the contents of the mental life of persons and groups among whom the child is born and reared, and with whom he interacts. To a large extent this rule happens to be correct in my case. The character of the mental life of my early sociocultural milieu shaped most of the con­tents of my early mentality...

Invisible and Dark Factors of My Early Mental Life  

The preceding pages outline the visible factors that shaped my early mental life (up to about the age of fourteen years). These factors consist mainly in the character of the mental life of the people-individuals and groups-among whom I lived and with whom I interacted face to face. An additional factor was the character of the mental currents (beliefs, knowledge, standards, and values) with which I came in contact indirectly-through books read, pictures seen, music heard, and through other means of com­munication. These two factors, plus the geographic conditions of my early years, seem to account for a large portion of my early mental equipment but hardly for the whole of it...

First Crisis and Its Visible Factors

After five months of imprisonment I was released, subject to "open surveillance of police," to whom I had to report regularly about my domicile, any change of my address, and about my activi­ties. Since I was discharged from the school, I decided to become a sort of an underground "professional revolutionary," going from factory to factory and from village to village to spread the gospel of the revolution and organize revolutionary "cells" and groups...

Post-Crisis Integration of My Mental Life

I arrived in St. Petersburg practically penniless. To keep my body and soul together, I had to obtain some job at once. A helping-hand to the janitor of an apartment house, a factory worker, a clerk, a tutor to the boys of mainly middle-class families, an occasional writer of articles in provincial papers—these were my jobs during my first two years in St. Petersburg...

New Crisis and New Reintegration 

Already, World War I had started to make some fissures in my optimistic Weltanschauung and in my conception of the historical process as progress. The revolution of 1917 enormously enlarged these fissures and eventually broke this world outlook, with its sys­tem of values and its "progressive," rational-positivistic sociology...


“Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin: a giant of 20th century sociological thought" Robert K. Merton