“Confirm Thy Soul in Self-Control, Thy Liberty in Law”

New Insights into Pitirim Sorokin’s American Sex Revolution The distinguished Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin published a remarkable book, The American Sex Revolution, in 1956.[1] It was ignored by most in the social science profession, one reviewer calling it “an explosive little volume”[2] and another “scalding,” “censorious,” and “scolding.”[3] Some thought that Sorokin was a hysterical[4] and prudish ivory tower Cassandra, and even mocked his use of the phrase “sex addiction,”[5] which has now of course become commonplace. More recently the book has been called “apocalyptic,” “opinionated,” and “sparsely documented.”[6] Over time American Sex Revolution has been neglected, and although several of Sorokin’s other works have been reprinted, this one has languished. It was in fact not meant to be a technical work of scholarship, but to exemplify theories contained in Sorokin’s major writings, including Social and Cultural Dynamics,[7] The Crisis of Our Age,[8] and Man and Society in Calamity.[9] Sorokin first published his ideas in a periodical, This Week, in a 1954 article, “The Case Against Sex Freedom,” and perhaps the book’s popular genesis made it less palpable to the scholarly community.[10] The arguments in American Sex Revolution go well beyond his magazine piece. American Sex Revolution is meant to pass on the practical wisdom and insight that Sorokin believed could be understood in its own right, through common sense, as well as through the lens of the socio-cultural theories propounded in his major works. The purpose here is to is to reconsider the premises on which Sorokin’s arguments about sexual ethics are based, the nature of marriage, and the nature of the human-divine relationship, as well as to dig deeper into and draw out overlooked philosophical assumptions that undergird Sorokin’s thinking in American Sex Revolution. These include his definition of marriage, a foundational element upo
Please subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.