Sociological Pastoral

  • Geoffrey Pearson


If the political element has gone underground in dominant theories of deviance, its lyrical counterpart, which equally firmly ties the fields of deviance and welfare to the city, factory and industrialism, has not: always close to the surface in traditional theories of misfits and welfare is the theme of a sociological pastoral. Sociological pastoral takes a number of forms, but each of them agrees that the deviant question is resolved only in the gemeinschaft where men are (allegedly) tolerant of diversity. The complexity of urban life is contrasted with the simplicity of a community of persons who are in some kind of harmony: to put words of contemporary liberalism around this, a community of participation, sharing, plural tolerance, etc. In this gemeinschaft-like community (which is part of social science’s memory) it seems as if social order gets along without skills, control or know-how. Raymond Williams notes the same recurring deception in literary pastoral where fields and crops grow (as it were) by themselves, vegetables come automatically out of the ground and land (equally automatically) on the dinner plate, and all this against a scenic backcloth in which Nature gets on with the business (unaided by men’s labour) of delivering up her providence: the pastoralist ‘looks out over the fields … and sees, not work, but a land yielding of itself’.1


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Copyright information

© Geoffrey Pearson 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Pearson
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeCardiffUK

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