Stanisław Ossowski

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Stanisław Ossowski (Lipno, 22 May 1897 – 7 November 1963, Warsaw) was one of Poland's most important sociologists.

He held professorships at Łódź University (1945–47) and Warsaw University (1947–63).


Ossowski first contributed to logic and aesthetics before moving on to sociology. He was a proponent of humanistic sociology and antinaturalism, differentiating between the natural sciences and the social sciences. He has had a strong influence on Polish sociologists, including Zygmunt Bauman and Jerzy Szacki.

In 1949 Ossowski was a founding member, and from 1959 to 1962 vice-president, of the International Sociological Association. In 1956 he was a founding member of the reactivated Polish Sociological Association and became its first president (1957–63).

Ossowski was married to Maria Ossowska, a fellow sociologist and social philosopher.

Maria Ossowska and Stanisław Ossowski are considered to be among the founders of the field of "science of science" due to their authorship of a seminal 1935 paper titled "The Science of Science."[1][2]

His work "Class Structure in the Social Consciousness" addressed the very vexing problem (to the Communist ideologues of the Comintern) why it was that the most advanced economy of the time (the USA) was also the most vehement opponent of Communism, in direct opposition to central Marxist tenets. This work was undertaken in the Post-Stalin thaw in the late 1950s at potential severe risk to his own person and his family. The main thrust of the book (which was obscured by blanketing it with lengthy and unassailable Marxian analysis to protect himself), was that wage differentials in the USA could be explained by viewing the extra income over a base labouring job, as being a rent received for the intellectual capital that the worker possessed. Thus in an advanced economy with a very wide range of skills in the workforce, a wider division of labour would exist than that in a less advanced economy. The further conclusion was that all those receiving "rent" for their intellectual capital would innately, in Marxian terms, have "Petit Bourgeois" political and sociological allegiances. Thus the more advanced an economy was the less likely it would naturally be Communist, destroying the Marxist-Leninist conviction that Communism was the inevitable destination of an advancing economy.

A measure of the esteem with which he was regarded by his compatriots is best exemplified by the statue of him erected in Central Warsaw.

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  1. ^ Originally published in Polish as "Nauka o nauce" in the Polish journal Nauka Polska (Polish Science), vol. XX, no. 3, 1935; reprinted in English in Bohdan Walentynowicz, ed., Polish Contributions to the Science of Science, 1982, pp. 82-95.
  2. ^ A synonym for "science of science" is the back-formed term "logology" (Christopher Kasparek, "Prus' Pharaoh: the Creation of a Historical Novel", The Polish Review, vol. XXXIX, no. 1, 1994, note 3, pp. 45–46; Stefan Zamecki, Komentarze do naukoznawczych poglądów Williama Whewella (1794–1866): studium historyczno-metodologiczne [Commentaries to the Logological Views of William Whewell (1794–1866): A Historical-Methodological Study], Warsaw, Polish Academy of Sciences, 2012, [English-language] summary, pp. 741–43). The term "logology" provides convenient grammatical variants not available with the earlier terms, "science of science" and "sociology of science": i.e., "logologist", "to logologize", "logological", "logologically".


  • Bohdan Walentynowicz, ed., Polish Contributions to the Science of Science, Dordrecht, D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1982.

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