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 among the founders of the field of "science of science" due to their authorship of a seminal 1935 paper, "The Science of Science."[1][2]

His book, Class Structure in the Social Consciousness, addressed the very vexing problem (to the Comintern's communist ideologues) of why the most advanced economy of the time (the United States) was also the most vehement opponent of Communism, in direct opposition to central Marxist tenets. Ossowski wrote the book in the post-Stalin thaw of the late 1950s, at considerable risk to him and his family. The book's main thrust (which, to protect himself, he obscured somewhat with lengthy unassailable Marxian analysis) was that wage differentials in the United States could be explained by viewing the extra income, over a base laboring job, as rent received for the intellectual capital possessed by the worker. Thus in an advanced economy with a very broad range of work-force skills, a wider division of labor would exist than in a less advanced economy. Therefore all those receiving "rent" for their intellectual capital would innately have, in Marxian terms, petit-bourgeois political and social allegiances. Thus the more advanced an economy was, the less likely that it would naturally be communist, destroying the Marxist-Leninist conviction that communism was the inevitable destination for an advancing economy.

An indication of the esteem in which he was held by certain sections of Polish society is a 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, ISBN 83-01-03607-9, 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, ISBN 978-83-86062-09-6, [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, ISBN 83-01-03607-9.

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