Envisioning Sociology: Victor Branford, Patrick Geddes, and the Quest for Social Reconstruction by John Scott & Ray Bromley.

Author:Landry, Sheryl Denise
Position:Book review

Scott, John, and Ray Bromley. Envisioning Sociology: Victor Branford, Patrick Geddes, and the Quest for Social Reconstruction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013. x + 288 pages. Hardcover, $90.00.

Sociologist John Scott and geographer Ray Bromley delve extensively into both the personal lives and academic influences of British sociologists Victor Branford and Patrick Geddes, whose work was notable for establishing a sociological framework drawn from multiple humanities disciplines. Theirs is an in-depth look at a once-veiled strategy through which Branford and Geddes sought to bring about contemporary social change.

By examining the juxtaposition of Branford and Geddes' work ethics, personalities, education, personal lives and families, religious beliefs, extensive international connections, leadership styles, and even physical statures, readers are able to spy on a relationship that is built on the thin line between symbiosis and codependency. In this reader's eyes, Branford and Geddes' working relationship and pursuit to get their ideas to the public is, in itself, an experiment in sociology. We are introduced to Branford and Geddes' creation of the so-called Sociological Society and their adaptation of four branches of class division in a society: chiefs, people, emotionals, and intellectuals. Inspired by Plato, Aristotle, H.G. Wells, and Arnold Bennett, the class divisions that Branford and Geddes defined depend heavily on one another so that each works in "mutually reinforcing ways" for the other (p. 88-9). "Chiefs" are the economic and political powers that direct and make decisions. The "people" perform the directives of the chiefs and operate in a subordinate capacity. These make up a society's "mechanical, vital and social crafts of engineering, manufacturing, mining, building, agriculture, forestry, fishing, medicine, legal, domestic and state work [...] organized into commercial, scientific, administrative or financial sectors," and it is upon and through the "people" that constraints have an effect (p. 89). Branford and Geddes also say that every society has and needs gatekeepers of cultural development: "intellectuals," who develop and deliver philosophical and scientific concepts, and "emotionals," who develop and deliver cultural ideas and expression through "music, writing, praying, art and design, guidance and advising" (p. 89).

While respecting and understanding the need for rural communities, Branford and...

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