We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at https://about.jstor.org/terms The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Journal of Sociology This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY VOLUME XXXIII MAY 1928 NUMBER 6 HUMAN MIGRATION AND THE MARGINAL MAN ROBERT E. PARK University of Chicago ABSrTRACT Migrations, with all the incidental collision, conflicts, and fusions of peoples and of cultures which they occasion, have been accounted among the decisive forces in history

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Human Migration and the Marginal Man Author(s): Robert E. Park Source: American Journal of Sociology , May, 1928, Vol. 33, No. 6 (May, 1928), pp. 881893 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2765982 JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at https://about.jstor.org/terms The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Journal of Sociology This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY VOLUME XXXIII MAY 1928 NUMBER 6 HUMAN MIGRATION AND THE MARGINAL MAN ROBERT E. PARK University of Chicago ABSrTRACT Migrations, with all the incidental collision, conflicts, and fusions of peoples and of cultures which they occasion, have been accounted among the decisive forces in history. Every advance in culture, it has been said, commences with a new period of migration and movement of populations. Present tendencies indicate that while the mobility of individuals has increased, the migration of peoples has relatively decreased. The consequences, however, of migration and mobility seem, on the whole, to be the same. In both cases the “cake of custom” is broken and the individual is freed for new enterprises and for new associations. One of the consequences of migration is to create a situation in which the same individual-who may or may not be a mixed blood-finds himself striving to live in two diverse cultural groups. The effect is to produce an unstable character-a personality type with characteristic forms of behavior. This is the “marginal man.” It is in the mind of the marginal man that the conflicting cultures meet and fuse. It is, therefore, in the mind of the marginal man that the process of civilization is visibly going on, and it is in the mind of the marginal man that the process of civilization may best be studied. Students of the great society, looking at mankind in the long perspective of history, have frequently been disposed to seek an explanation of existing cultural differences among races and peoples in some single dominating cause or condition. One school of thought, represented most conspicuously by Montesquieu, has found that explanation in climate and in the physical environment. Another school, identified with the name of Arthur de Gobineau, author of The Inequality of Human Races, has sought an explana88i This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 882 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY tion of divergent cultures in the innate qualities of races biologically inherited. These two theories have this in common, namely, that they both conceive civilization and society to be the result of evolu- tionary processes-processes by which man has acquired new inheritable traits-rather than processes by which new relations have been established between men. In contrast to both of these, Frederick Teggart has recently restated and amplified what may be called the catastrophic theory of civilization, a theory that goes back to Hume in England, and to Turgot in France. From this point of view, climate and innate racial traits, important as they may have been in the evolution of races, have been of only minor influence in creating existing cul- tural differences. In fact, races and cultures, so far from being in any sense identical-or even the product of similar conditions and forces-are perhaps to be set over against one another as contrast effects, the results of antagonistic tendencies, so that civilization may be said to flourish at the expense of racial differences rather than to be conserved by them. At any rate, if it is true that races are the products of isolation and inbreeding, it is just as certain that civilization, on the other hand, is a consequence of contact and communication. The forces which have been decisive in the history of mankind are those which have brought men together in fruitful competition, conflict, and co-operation. Among the most important of these influences have been-according to what I have called the catastrophic theory of progressmigration and the incidental collisions, conflicts, and fusions of people and cultures which they have occasioned. “Every advance in culture,” says Biicher, in his Industrial Evo- lution, “commences, so to speak, with a new period of wandering,” and in support of this thesis he points out that the earlier forms of trade were migratory, that the first industries to free themselves from the household husbandry and become independent occupa- tions were carried on itinerantly. “The great founders of religion, the earliest poets and philosophers, the musicians and actors of past epochs, are all great wanderers. Even today, do not the inventor, the preacher of a new doctrine, and the virtuoso travel from place to place in search of adherents and admirers-notwithstand- This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms HUMAN MIGRATION AND THE MARGINAL MAN 883 ing the immense recent development in the means of communicat- ing information?”‘ The influences of migrations have not been limited, of course, by the changes which they have effected in existing cultures. In the long run, they have determined the racial characteristics of histor- ical peoples. “The whole teaching of ethnology,” as Griffith Taylor remarks, “shows that peoples of mixed race are the rule and not the exception.”2 Every nation, upon examination, turns out to have been a more or less successful melting-pot. To this constant sifting of races and peoples, human geographers have given the title “the historical movement,” because, as Miss Semple says in her volume Influences of Geographic Environment, “it underlies most written history and constitutes the major part of unwritten history, espe- cially that of savage and nomadic tribes.”3 Changes in race, it is true, do inevitably follow, at some distance, changes in culture. The movements and mingling of peoples which bring rapid, sudden, and often catastrophic, changes in customs and habits are followed, in the course of time, as a result of interbreeding, by corresponding modifications in temperament and physique. There has probably never been an instance where races have lived together in the intimate contacts which a common economy enforces in which racial contiguity has not produced racial hybrids. However, changes in racial characteristics and in cultural traits proceed at very different rates, and it is notorious that cultural changes are not consolidated and transmitted biologically, or at least to only a very slight extent, if at all. Acquired characteristics are not biologically inherited. Writers who emphasize the importance of migration as an agency of progress are invariably led to ascribe a similar role to war. Thus Waitz, commenting upon the role of migration as an agency of civilization, points out that migrations are “rarely of a peaceful nature at first.” Of war he says: “The first consequence of war is that fixed relations are established between peoples, which 1 Carl Bucher, Industrial Evolution, p. 347. 2 Griffith Taylor, Environment and Race: A Study of the Evolution, Migra- tion, Settlement, and Status of the Races of Men, p. 336. Ellen Churchill Semple, Influences of Geographic Environment, p. 75. This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 884 T’HE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY render friendly intercourse possible, an intercourse which becomes more important from the interchange of knowledge and experience than from the mere interchange of commodities.”4 And then he adds: Whenever we see a people, of whatever degree of civilization, not living in contact and reciprocal action with others, we shall generally find a certain stagnation, a mental inertness, and a want of activity, which render any change of social and political condition next to impossible. These are, in times of peace, transmitted like an everlasting disease, and war appears then, in spite of what the apostles of peace may say, as a saving angel, who rouses the national spirit, and renders all forces more elastic.5 Among the writers who conceive the historical process in terms of intrusions, either peaceful or hostile, of one people into the domain of another, must be reckoned such sociologists as Gumplowicz and Oppenheim. The former, in an effort to define the social proc- ess abstractly, has described it as the interaction of heterogeneous ethnic groups, the resulting subordination and superordination of races constituting the social order-society, in fact. In much the same way, Oppenheim, in his study of the socio- logical origin of the state, believes he has shown that in every instance the state has had its historical beginnings in the imposition, by conquest and force, of the authority of a nomadic upon a sedentary and agricultural people. The facts which Oppenheim has gathered to sustain his thesis show, at any rate, that social institu- tions have actually, in many instances at least, come into existence abruptly by a mutation, rather than by a process of evolutionary selection and the gradual accumulation of relatively slight variations.6 It is not at once apparent why a theory which insists upon the importance of catastrophic change in the evolution of civilization should not at the same time take some account of revolution as a factor in progress. If peace and stagnation, as Waitz suggests, tend to assume the form of a social disease; if, as Sumner says, “society needs to have some ferment in it” to break up this stagna’Theodor Waitz, Introduction to Anthropology, p. 347. ‘Ibid., p. 348. ‘Franz Oppenheim, The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically ( I9I4). This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms HUMAN MIGRATION AND THE MARGINAL MAN 885 tion and emancipate the energies of individuals imprisoned within an existing social order; it seems that some “adventurous folly” like the crusades of the middle ages, or some romantic enthusiasm like that which found expression in the French Revolution, or in the more recent Bolshevist adventure in Russia, might serve quite as effectively as either migration or war to interrupt the routine of existing habit and break the cake of custom. Revolutionary doctrines are naturally based upon a conception of catastrophic rather than of evolutionary change. Revolutionary strategy, as it has been worked out and rationalized in Sorel’s Reflections on Violence, makes the great catastrophe, the general strike, an article of faith. As such it becomes a means of maintaining morale and enforcing discipline in the revolutionary masses.7 The first and most obvious difference between revolution and migration is that in migration the breakdown of social order is initiated by the impact of an invading population, and completed by the contact and fusion of native with alien peoples. In the case of the former, revolutionary ferment and the forces which have disrupted society have ordinarily had, or seem to have had, their sources and origins mainly if not wholly within, rather than without, the society affected. It is doubtful whether it can be successfully maintained that every revolution, every Aufkldrung, every intellectual awakening and renaissance has been and will be provoked by some invading population movement or by the intrusion of some alien cultural agency. At least it seems as if some modification of this view is necessary, since with the growth of commerce and communication there is progressively and relatively more movement and less migration. Commerce, in bringing the ends of the earth together, has made travel relatively secure. Moreover, with the development of machine industry and the growth of cities, it is the commodities rather than men which circulate. The peddler, who carries his stock on his back, gives way to the traveling salesman, and the catalogue of the mail order house now reaches remote regions which even the Yankee peddler rarely if ever pene- trated. With the development of a world-economy and the inter’Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence (New York, I9I4). This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 886 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY penetration of peoples, migrations, as Bucher has pointed out, have changed their character: The migrations occurring at the opening of the history of European peoples are migrations of whole tribes, a pushing and pressing of collective units from east to west which lasted for centuries. The migrations of the Middle Ages ever affect individual classes alone; the knights in the crusades, the mer- chants, the wage craftsmen, the journeymen hand-workers, the jugglers and minstrels, the villeins seeking protection within the walls of a town. Modern migrations, on the contrary, are generally a matter of private concern, the individuals being led by the most varied motives. They are almost invariably without organization. The process repeating itself daily a thousand times is united only through the one characteristic, that it is everywhere a question of change of locality by persons seeking more favourable conditions of life.8 Migration, which was formerly an invasion, followed by the forcible displacement or subjugation of one people by another, has assumed the character of a peaceful penetration. Migration of peoples has, in other words, been transmuted into mobility of individ- uals, and the wars which these movements so frequently occasioned have assumed the character of internecine struggles, of which strikes and revolutions are to be regarded as types. Furthermore, if one were to attempt to reckon with all the forms in which catastrophic changes take place, it would be necessary to include the changes that are effected by the sudden rise of some new religious movement like Mohammedanism or Christianity, both of which began as schismatic and sectarian movements, and which by extension and internal evolution have become independent religions. Looked at from this point of view, migration assumes a character less unique and exceptional than has hitherto been conceived by the writers whom the problem has most intrigued. It appears as one, merely, of a series of forms in which historic changes may take place. Nevertheless, regarded abstractly as a type of collective action, human migration exhibits everywhere characteristics that are sufficiently typical to make it a subject of independent investigation and study, both in respect to its form and in respect to the effects which it produces. Migration is not, however, to be identified with mere movement. It involves, at the very least, change of residence and the 8 Carl Biicher, Industrial Evolution, p. 349. This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms HUMAN MIGRATION AND THE MARGINAL MAN 887 breaking of home ties. The movements of gypsies and other pariah peoples, because they bring about no important changes in cultural life, are to be regarded rather as a geographical fact than a social phenomenon. Nomadic life is stabilized on the basis of movement, and even though gypsies now travel by automobile, they still maintain, comparatively unchanged, their ancient tribal organiza- tion and customs. The result is that their relation to the communities in which they may at any time be found is to be described as symbiotic rather than social. This tends to be true of any section or class of the population-the hobos, for example, and the hotel dwellers-which is unsettled and mobile. Migration as a social phenomenon must be studied not merely in its grosser effects, as manifested in changes in custom and in the mores, but it may be envisaged in its subjective aspects as manifested in the changed type of personality which it produces. When the traditional organization of society breaks down, as a result of contact and collision with a new invading culture, the effect is, so to speak, to emancipate the individual man. Energies that were formerly controlled by custom and tradition are released. The individual is free for new adventures, but he is more or less without direction and control. Teggart’s statement of the matter is as follows: As a result of the breakdown of customary modes of action and of thought, the individual experiences a “release” from the restraints and constraints to which he has been subject, and gives evidence of this “release” in aggressive self-assertion. The overexpression of individuality is one of the marked features of all epochs of change. On the other hand, the study of the psychological effects of collision and contact between different groups reveals the fact that the most important aspect of “release” lies not in freeing the soldier, warrior, or berserker from the restraint of conventional modes of action, but in freeing the individual judgment from the inhibitions of conventional modes of thought. It will thus be seen (he adds) that the study of the modus operandi of change in time gives a common focus to the efforts of political historians, of the his- torians of literature and of ideas, of psychologists, and of students of ethics and the theory of education.9 Social changes, according to Teggart, have their inception in events which “release” the individuals out of which society is com’Frederick J. Teggart, Theory of History, p. i96. This content downloaded from 132.174.254.159 on Tue, 13 Apr 2021 22:06:11 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 888 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY posed. Inevitably, however, this release is followed in the course of time by the reintegration of the individuals so released into a new social order. In the meantime, however, certain changes take place-at any rate they are likely to take place-in the character of the individuals themselves. They become, in the process, not merely emancipated, but enlightened. The emancipated individual invariably becomes in a certain sense and to a certain degree a cosmopolitan. He learns to look upon the world in which he was born and bred with something of the detachment of a stranger. He acquires, in short, an intellectual bias. Simmel has described the position of the stranger in the community, and his personality, in terms of movement and migration. “If wandering,” he says, “considered as the liberation from every given point in space, is the conceptual opposite of fixation at any point, then surely the sociological form of the stranger presents the union of both of these specifications.” The stranger stays, but he is not settled. He is a potential wanderer. That means that he is not bound as others are by the local proprieties and conventions. “He is the freer man, practically and theoretically. He views his relation to others with less prejudice; he submits them to more gen- eral, more objective standards, and he is not confined in his action by custom, piety or precedents.” The effect of mobility and migration is to secularize relations which were formerly sacred. One may describe the process, in its dual aspect, p …
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