Encyclopedias, Handbooks, And Dictionaries Research Paper

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According to one informed estimate, if a copy of every important reference work known in Western history were set side by side in chronological order, some three kilometers of shelf space would be required for their display. Ever since Plato and Aristotle first called for the assembling of what they named ‘encyclopedia,’ a challenge quickly accepted by one of Plato’s nephews, Speusippus (d. 339 BC), intellectuals have tried to summarize and codify what they knew, either for general literate audiences or for specialized groups of colleagues. Of these three kilometers of systematized learning, those volumes that treat the social sciences would appear in only the last few hundred meters of material. This reflects both the fact that social science was not part of the trivium quadrivium arrangement of classical and renaissance learning, and that official academic status was accorded these fields only during the twentieth century in most research universities.

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The history of encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries (designations which until at least the eighteenth century were used interchangeably) is distinguished not only by sheer quantity of printed material, but also by the quality of thinkers and writers who created and contributed to them. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, for instance, served as a model of organizing such material for 1700 years after its appearance in 77 AD, despite an odd mixing of fact and fancy throughout its 37 books. Francis Bacon devised in 1620 a huge encyclopedia of 130 sections which was never completed, but his mode of organizing knowledge was still consulted by Diderot and later compilers 130 years later. In 1817 Samuel Taylor Coleridge also put forth an ambitious reorganizing of all human knowledge, which he interestingly titled Encyclopœdia Metropolitana.

The urge, then, to systematize and rationalize both common and esoteric knowledge has been strongly and continuously in evidence for at least 2400 years in the West. Even in 551 AD when the love of knowledge and external conditions for its preservation reached an apparent nadir, Cassiodorus saw to it that the labors of the monastery he founded at Vivarium be dedicated principally to the preservation of worthwhile information, producing the two-volume Institutes of Divine and Secular Literature. Vincent of Beauvois has long been identified as the finest encyclopedist of the Middle Ages, producing his Speculum Majus (The Greater Mirror) in 1244, made up of 10,000 chapters in 80 books, an achievement which held the field for sheer scope until the eighteenth century.

Alphabetical as opposed to categorically arranged encyclopedias began to appear at the end of the first millenium, although most have followed the latter rather than the former method of organization. The first grouping of all knowledge within a format that is recognizably modern, along alphabetical lines, was the Grand Dictionnaire Historique produced by Louis Moreri in 1674. The audience for such a work was already developed, for his venture went through six editions in the following 17 years, followed by still more editions in English.

Were Moreri and his contemporary compilers alive today, they would probably be astonished at the level of continuing interest in reference sources. Informed academic reference librarians and professional bibliographers now claim that we are living in a golden era of reference materials, especially if one uses sheer quantity of output as the vital measure of the gold standard. One director of acquisitions wrote of ‘so many choices, so little money’ regarding new reference books (Wilkinson 1997), and the editor of The Book Review of The Library Journal analyzed ‘reference for a new age’ with particular attention to the mesh of electronic and printed materials suddenly dominating publishers’ catalogs (Hoffert 1996). A third expert notes that flashy graphics and other user-friendly alterations have attracted many first-time users to reference materials who before would have shunned their perceived complexity (Mantell 1997). Even a cursory look at the current availability of dictionaries, handbooks, or encyclopedias in the social sciences indicates that in some fields, for which before 1990 virtually no reference books (let alone CD-ROMs) were available, now have at their disposal a half-dozen fresh entries in the genre. And even at considerable cost, they are being bought by research libraries almost as a matter of course, just as the electronic forms have begun to encroach on printed versions. The latter may continue to exist into the twenty-first century, but will probably be relegated to the status of secondary resources, subordinate to the newer formats. Or they might persist as specialized bodies of information for ever smaller audiences. Overall, it is fair to say that the reference materials ‘business’ is thriving as never before, especially when measured by library acquisition budgets aimed in its direction, and the ultimate effect this outpouring may have on the way social science is conceived and used remains difficult to predict.

That said, however, no-one seems to be arguing that the latest entries into the reference book market are supplanting in quality of information or breadth of coverage some of the old standards. The Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences from the early 1930s will never be rendered entirely obsolete simply because so many of its contributors have themselves become the subjects of articles in later works. What was true in 1910 of the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, still the nonpareil standard of reference works in English, is similarly the case for a range of earlier works. When authors close to the origin of a given field of research accepted invitations by reference publishers to write about their own scholarly innovations (e.g., Werner Sombart on ‘Capitalism’ in the ESS, Benedetto Croce’s article on ‘Aesthetics’ or Edmund Husserl’s on ‘Phenomenology,’ both in the 14th edition of the Britannica), later authors have been obliged to accept such statements as first-order expert testaments, beginning their reformulations from there. Surely some of this is going on today, for instance, in newer fields like ‘cognitive neuroscience,’ ‘psycholinguistics,’ ‘psychobiology,’ or ‘economic psychology,’ and a century hence these may well be accepted as foundational statements. But, for the time being, it is hard to distinguish the ephemeral from the more or less permanent when evaluating the raft of reference works that appeared during the last decade or so of the twentieth century.

It was not always so difficult to name the leading works to which scholars or novices could turn when searching for basic information regarding the social sciences, especially if one strays beyond the confines of the English language. There was a time, of course, when dictionaries, handbooks, and encyclopedias (which in Greek means ‘general education’) could have been viewed as a special genre of scholarly display, with Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755), Diderot’s Encyclopedia (1751), or Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary (1764) initially setting the tone for many modern versions that followed. As noted above, for some centuries prior to the Enlightenment, the words ‘dictionary’ and ‘encyclopedia’ were used synonymously, lacking precise meaning, e.g., when Rabelais around 1534 introduced the word into French literature, in Pantagruel: ‘he has opened for me the true well and abyss of encylopedic knowledge’ (The Complete Works of Francois Rabelais, University of California Press, 1991, p. 201). Though Rabelais meant simply ‘knowledge’ when using the term, within only 25 years a German, Paul Scalich, had published his Encyclopaedia, the scope of which conformed to today’s usage. Since then, of course, untold thousands of such works have appeared in every major language.

But, unlike scholarly articles and books, rolling off the presses with merciless regularity, substantial reference works have until recently been rarely enough published that they eluded the standard procedure of critical appraisal brought to bear on most nonreference works. And they are hardly the innocent, bland summaries that the naive reader might take them to be. Each new entry into this crowded market must either claim to bring together for the first time a body of knowledge which to that point had not been assembled by quite the same rules as those which constitute the ‘new’ rubric, or it must offer some other, less lofty advantage, such as lower price or ease of use. All of this is currently going in the world of social science publishing, and at an unprecedented rate, mostly owing, one suspects, to the huge composing advantages supplied by personal computers.

The positive result of the new technology lies in the superabundance of suddenly available reference resources, some of which will surely define for the first time entire realms of intellectual inquiry. A less sanguine prospect, however, is the burden this torrent of innovative materials places on those who must evaluate or use them. As the range of choices widens, the provision of useable criticism becomes ever more costly, and probably less reliable.

This was not always the case, at least regarding the social sciences. A fairly limited selection of well-known reference tools were at the disposal of researchers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which gave this growing general zone of study a tidy coherence that today is all but gone. And whereas such an orderly presentation of knowledge, then common to a given discipline or subdiscipline, might today seem either unnecessary or epistemologically indefensible, for the founders of the social sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) over one hundred years ago, the task of proving to more established disciplines that intellectual coherence indeed existed within their upstart fields became a truly vital effort at self-preservation.

Within what we could now broadly call sociology, for example, systematizations appeared fairly early. This is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that sociology as a discipline was defined and taught (particularly in the USA) some time before its sister disciplines within the social sciences. It often played the role of a ant garde as this new way of carving up the academic world began rearranging disciplinary boundaries. While many of today’s practitioners are familiar, at least with the titles, of the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences and The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, or Robert E. L. Faris’s Handbook of Modern Sociology (1964) or Neil Smelser’s Handbook of Sociology (1988), most are not aware of this genre’s substantial tradition, especially as produced in Europe. It is now commonly supposed that Faris’s was the first handbook of American sociology to be published, since it was widely distributed at the time and was fortunate in appearing just as sociology became a ‘growth industry’ on campuses worldwide. But even some reviewers at the time knew better, e.g., Joseph Gittler’s opening line in his review: ‘With the plethora of new handbooks, reviews, and compendia in sociology, one wonders whether there is a need for yet another one’ (Gittler 1965, p. 335). But it must have seemed like much less of a ‘milestone in the field of sociology’ as the publisher had characterized the Handbook through its mailed advertisements to ASA members if one considers the substance of the reviews it received. The book was probably taken as a handy cribbing device for graduate students and young instructors, glanced at perfunctorily, then parked on the shelf with similar volumes which Rand McNally had become good at marketing.

As Gittler was hinting, the history of sophisticated handbooks that sought to introduce audiences to new trends of analysis is in fact long and distinguished, though it is quite true that only a few of them were in English. Carl von Rotteck and Carl Welcker edited the Staats-Lexikon oder Encyclopadie der Staatswissenschaften (1834–43), the oldest the author has found, adding up to fifteen volumes at 800 pages each. (Even though the social sciences hardly existed at that time, formally speaking, the subject matter in the Encyclopadie, as well as the other sources named below, included much of what we would now recognize as such.) In 1852 and 1853, Charles Coquelin oversaw production of the Dictionnaire de L’economie Politique in two volumes (1858 pages). Such works ‘came dear,’ as Dickens would have put it. The copy the author examined bore an inscription from September 1853, noting that the price paid in Piccadilly was £3.80, a very substantial amount of money at the time. Male manual workers in England then earned on average 9s.6d per week (or about £2 per month), with child laborers making perhaps 2s. per week, and domestic servants settling for much less (as per Caird’s survey of 1851, reported in Burnett 1984, p. 29). Considering that the price of bread was around 1s. or more per loaf, or 11% of a week’s salary, these early reference works would cost in today’s terms the equivalent of two months gross earnings, or many thousands of dollars each, that is, if one were to apply every pence earned to the cost of the books! Meanwhile in Italy, Gerolamo Boccardo brought out Dizionario Della Economnia Politica e Del Commercio: Cosi Teorico Come Practico (1857) in four volumes and 2800 pages, an equally lavish item.

The predecessor to Weber’s famous Grundriss der Sozialokonomik was Gustav Schoenberg’s Handbuch der Politischen Oekonomie (1882–85) in three volumes. Surely the most important of these early handbooks was edited by Conrad et al., Handworterbuch der Staatswissenschaften (1895), an enormous work in seven volumes and about 6000 pages. Supplements were added in 1895 and 1897 of 2000 pages, and later editions (1898 and 1909–11) included two versions of Weber’s famous Agrar erhaltnisse im Altertum (first translated in 1976 as The Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations), the initial version 27 pages long, the second 136 pages. Ludwig Elster, part of Conrad’s team, published a shorter version of the monumental work in only two volumes (1898), merely 2100 pages in length. The French were not idle, with Leon Say and Joseph Chailley’s Nouveau Dictionnaire d’Economie Politique (1891 92), amounting to two fat volumes of 2800 pages, and a supplement in 1900 of 271 more. Finally, the famous Robert Harry Inglis Palgrave edited Dictionary of Political Economy (1894, 1901, 1910), which in its last version came to three volumes and 2500 pages. This was soon followed in 1897 by William D. P. Bliss’ Encyclopedia of Social Reform, one volume of 1439 pages (1908). What all this shows is that the notion of social science compendia has been around quite a while, and that most of the nineteenth- century European models were enormous publishing achievements. With the new century, ambitions and costs both shrank considerably.

Although in the space allotted here it is impossible to offer even a succinct history of social science reference books, some sense of how they evolved over the last hundred years or so might be conveyed simply by means of mentioning some titles which seemed to define a given discipline at a particular moment in its development. I will begin with my own field, whose history is more familiar to me than the related disciplines.

1. Sociology

Despite its senior status as a university discipline of independent identity relative to most of the other social sciences, Sociology has not generated as many references works as one might therefore expect. Thomas Nixon Carver’s Sociology and Social Progress: A Handbook for Students of Sociology (Ginn, 1906; 810 pp.) was remarkable for its earliness. Yet the first real encyclopedic effort in English came only in 1992 under Edward Borgatta’s editorship (Macmillan, 4 vols.), a full century after academic departments bearing the discipline’s name appeared in several mid-western universities. (Two previous efforts, one edited by the noted scholar Michael Mann, did not live up to their titles as ‘encyclopedias’ proper.) Other useful compendia include Smelser and Swedberg’s The Handbook of Economic Sociology (1994) and Frank Magill’s International Encyclopedia of Sociology (1995, 2 Vols.).

The first handbook expressly designed for sociology was Alfred Vierkandt’s Handworterbuch der Soziologie (1931), a mere 690 pages long, followed in 1956 by Werner Ziegenfuss’ Handbuch der Soziologie at double the length. And in 1962 Rene Konig edited the famous Handbuch der Empirischen Sozialforschung in two volumes of 2000 pages. In the USA one could begin with An Introduction to Sociology edited by Jerome Davis and H. E. Barnes (1927, 1931), a 900- page collaboration by seven authors. Trends in American Sociology followed in 1929, edited by George Lundberg, Read Bain, and Nels Anderson, with substantial chapters on the history of sociology, theory, social psychology, culture, rural sociology, urban sociology, educational sociology, social work, applied sociology, and methods. In 1937 Prentice-Hall sold Man and Society for $3.75, a 787-page work edited by Emerson Schmidt that tried to introduce students to all the social sciences simultaneously, covering everything from human values to income distribution to social psychology (Herbert Blumer’s memorable chapter). The Gurvitch–Moore volume, Twentieth Century Sociology, published just following World War II (1945), seemed to have widespread influence, despite its execrable typos and layout. Its most distinctive feature, in addition to chapters on all the subfields of sociology at the time, was a second section of 250 pages that dealt with sociology in France, the USA, Britain, Germany, Latin America, Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. This should have inspired later handbooks, and may account for the volume’s popularity, since a distinctly ecumenical flavor swept the academy worldwide following WWII. Its authors Burgess, Parsons, H. P. Becker, Sorokin, Maclver, Znaniecki, Gurvitch, Roscoe Pound, Merton, Wach, Levi-Strauss, Faris, Albert Salomon, Bastide, and so on comprise a list of distinguished scholars that has not been matched since in a collaborative volume. The first recognizably ‘modern’ compendium was Joseph Gittler’s Review of Sociology (1957), with chapters by recognized authors on the topics that soon became the staples of introductory textbooks. (Georges Gurvitch edited Traite de Sociologie in 1960, two volumes and 1000 pages, which seemed to have little impact in the USA.) And finally, Parsons himself had a go with his American Sociology (1968), with chapters by many scholars now in the twilight of their careers but who then were the bedrock of the mainstream, as it were.

One could say many things along these lines about the Smelser Handbook, which, given its size and unique position within sociology at present, deserves more than passing attention. This is especially so regarding the ‘theories’ that are put forth in the opening chapters as constituting ‘the’ new streams. For instance, neither Walter Wallace nor Jeffrey Alexander, the chapters’ authors, wishes to consider postmodernism as a fact of existential and scholarly life, and therefore each throws himself into a strange time warp. Peterson had characterized Faris’ introduction to his earlier compendium as ‘blindly benign’ (Peterson 1965, p. 254), which seems perfectly correct, even when rereading Faris today. One could say something similar about the theoretical terrain that is gingerly walked over in opening chapters of the Smelser Handbook. A range of old beliefs, now diminished by criticism from philosophers and literary critics—some of whom, incidentally, number among our most influential ‘social’ theorists—are trotted out as if nothing substantial had occurred to Western culture since 1964. It is as if the ‘self’ about which Parsons wrote with such conviction is still out there doing what selves have ‘always’ done. The same could be said about the precritical notion of ‘science’ and ‘rationality’ that figures in both chapters, but especially in Alexander’s, as if definitions of rational action and societal rationality are not now in themselves enormously contentious topics. Such limitations begin to indicate the intellectual boundaries of compendia of this sort, even those written by top scholars, for the adventurousness which might pervade a monograph composed by the same authors is diminished when they turn their hands to ‘general’ statements. Since reference sources, by common consent, are supposed to offer a summary of ‘established knowledge’ in a specific field or subfield, their authors typically draw back from the perimeters of discovery and innovation. Therefore, such works almost always lag behind the leading edges of thinking and offer their users a snapshot of what was confidently held to be true a dozen or more years before they are published. And with the ever-increasing rate of change in global intellectual culture, this poses a problem, particularly for printed reference sources, which may be met only via constantly updated electronic versions.

Comparison of Smelser’s Handbook, at the time of writing the most recent entry into the genre, with earlier versions must remain fairly rough. Its predecessors employed other sorts of authors, aimed at different audiences (those not yet effectively lobotomized by videocretinization), and seem to have been composed in an atmosphere of genuine wonder and hopeful discovery regarding what social scientific study might yield for intellectuals and for the social order that supported them. This kind of childlike hope decomposed after the Gurvitch–Moore volume in 1945 and was replaced by a somewhat defensive, stuffy scientism in later compendia that reflected sociology’s struggle to survive McCarthyism on one hand, and literary criticism on the other. But such books, while high on scientific rhetoric, seemed correspondingly low on political self-examination and savvy, while also revealing a foreshortened understanding of the philosophical problems necessarily part of sociological study. Still, it is uplifting to read these older books because their authors were usually straightforward and unpretentious. They tended to avoid enormous claims for the discipline, and offered up its fruits with a direct and unembattled character that nowadays is harder to find. It is probably no accident that after years of sociology bashing at the highest levels of government, both in the USA and in Europe, the field should have put out a summary package for broad consumption in hope of regaining lost ground, both within the cloister and beyond its high walls. We shall see if it succeeds as part of the long process of recertifying the discipline for a public which has been told repeatedly that nothing good can come of thinking about social reality in the way ‘we’ do.

Dictionaries for sociology began with Constantine Panunzio’s pamphlet, A Student’s Dictionary of Sociological Terms (California, 1937), continuing with Henry Fairchild’s Dictionary of Sociology (1944). Only in the late 1960s were a number of competing volumes added to this small shelf of sociological reference books, including those of Geoffrey Mitchell (1968, 1979), George Theodorson and Achilles Theodorson (1969), and Thomas Hoult (1969). With Raymond Boudon and Francois Bourricaud’s Critical Dictionary of Sociology (1989), celebrated scholars from Europe entered the field for the first time, followed in the 1990s with new dictionaries by David Jary (1991), Nicholas Abercrombie (1994), Gordon Marshall (1994, 1998), and Allan Johnson (1995), the former three being well-known British scholars. American sociologists have not of late contributed substantially to this genre.

2. Anthropology

Of all the social sciences, anthropology has been to date the least well served in terms of general reference books. This seems odd given the nineteenth century’s penchant for vast compilations of quasianthropological data, e.g., Frazer’s Golden Bough or Herbert Spencer’s Descriptive Sociology (in fact comparative anthropology) in 12 volumes. The earliest dictionary of sociology I have found has now become a standard, Charles Winick’s Dictionary of Anthropology (1956), with several later editions. Anthropology A to Z (1963), edited by Gerhard Heberer, Carleton Coon, et al., was based on an earlier German compilation of several hands. A recent trend among publishers to name reference books after their firm is typified in The Macmillan Dictionary of Anthropology (1986) edited by Seymour-Smith. The implication of this general practice—that a source’s value to the user is more or less guaranteed by virtue of a firm’s prestige—is not necessarily realized in practice. The most recent entry is Barfield’s Dictionary of Anthropology (1997).

The discipline came into its own so far as reference sources go when Honigmann et al. produced the 1300 page Handbook of Social and Cultural Anthropology (1973) at a period when the social sciences reached a zenith of appeal among college undergraduates in the USA. Two misnamed volumes are Hunter and Whitten’s Encyclopedia of Anthropology (1976) and Barnard and Spencer’s Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (1996), both books of modest size. An interesting twist appeared with Bock’s Handbook of Psychological Anthropology (1994), an instance, ever more common, of a reference book seemingly anticipating an intellectual or disciplinary trend before it gains acceptance at the institutional level. Such a rubric might well surprise both psychologists and anthropologists, relatively few of whom typically relate their two fields in any intimate way.

3. Cognitive Sciences And Related Fields

As soon as it became apparent in the 1970s to policymakers, governmental budget specialists, and academics that improvements in psychopathic or sociopathic conditions could be more cheaply and quickly realized through the use of drugs and related somatic measures—as opposed to ‘talking cures’ or other socially based interventions—those fields that stress the linkage between individual physiology and the social order experienced a sudden renaissance. What seemed a neo-Darwinian rage for simplification overtook large zones of inquiry within the social and behavioral sciences. This has become so much the case during the 1990s that physiological reductionism often seems the order of the day, nearly extinguishing the behavioral component in explanations for an ever broadening range of ailments, from alcoholism to schizophrenia to general criminality. Given this intellectual environment, it is hardly surprising that a range of new reference books appeared which positioned themselves along a continuum of biobehavioral explanation of social action, from crude sociobiological reductionism to subtle neurological analysis of brain function and behavior. Much of this new wave of work stirs up controversy because of its real or imagined political consequences, most famously exemplified by the raucous reception given Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Cur e (1994), both in the ordinary as well as the academic press.

Among many such books published in the 1980s and 1990s, several might be mentioned for their innovative qualities. Michael Gazzaniga edited Handbook of Cognitive Neuroscience (1984), complemented by Dunlop and Fetzer’s Glossary of Cognitive Science (1993), brought to even grander fruition in Wilson and Keil’s The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (1999). Not unrelated are Wyer and Srull’s Handbook of Social Cognition (1984, 1994) and Van Hasselt and Hersen’s Handbook of Social Development (1992). More traditional, and connected with a field the roots of which go back at least to Saussure’s posthumous masterpiece, Course in General Linguistics (1916), is Florian Coulmas’s The Handbook of Sociolinguistics (1997), and what amounts conceptually to its complementary volume, Morton Gernsbacher’s Handbook of Psycholinguistics (1994). These interestingly hybrid fields will undoubtedly grow in the twenty-first century, and it seems now that a biosocial focus will stimulate at least as much theorizing and research as did the more purely sociopolitical analyses during the preceding half-century.

4. Economics

Unlike some of the newcomers mentioned above, economics (or ‘political-economy’ as it was first known) has a long history relative to other social sciences, dating at least to 1776 and the publication of Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Reference sources therefore abound. Before economics became an academic area, many guides to financial matters existed, of course, for example The Hand-book of Trade and Commerce, or, A concise dictionary of the terms and principles of trade, commerce, manufactures, commercial and common law, etc, with tables of money, weights, and measures, published in London in 1840. We also know from sources like Marx’s Theories of Surplus Value, his three-volume anthology of annotated excerpts from the history of economic theory, that the literature on economic matters was by the 1850s quite well developed. Reference works, however, did not apparently surface until somewhat later. Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy (1894) is perhaps the most famous, and John Joseph Lalor’s Cyclopedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States: By the Best American and European Writers (1881–1884) is another early example. So was Frank Bower’s A Dictionary of Economic Terms for the Use of Newspaper Readers and Students (1905), kept in print until 1951 under subsequent editors.

More obviously pertinent to the discipline as it now exists was Herwith Price’s Economic Dictionary (2 volumes, 1926–29), published in Berlin, as well as John Todd’s The Mechanism of Exchange: A Handbook of Economics (3rd edn., 1927) (which became The Science of Prices in a 4th edition [1935] before reverting to its orginal title in its 5th). Frank Bower’s brief Dictionary of Economic Terms reached its 10th edition in 1936, while Horton’s Dictionary of Modern Economics appeared in 1948. Beginning in the early 1950s, the number and variety of dictionaries and handbooks concerning economics exploded, keeping pace with undergraduate enrollments at large public universities in the USA and elsewhere. Sloan and Zurcher’s went through five editions between 1951 and 1970, while J. L. Hanson’s reached its 6th edition in 1986, having been in print for 21 years. The latest dictionaries of economics include those by John Black (Oxford, 1997) and Bannock et al. (Wiley, 1998). On a larger scale, encyclopedias of economics began to appear relatively late, with the Guilford Encyclopdia of Economics in 1973 74, the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics in 1982 and 1994 (2nd edn.), and The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics in 1993. O’Hara has reverted in his choice of title to an earlier time, perhaps for political as much as intellectual reasons, with Encyclopedia of Political Economy in two volumes (1999). Another new entry is K. Liou’s Handbook of Economic Development (1998), which broadens the discipline’s terrain by including the global dimension.

5. Political Science

One of the earliest general reference works in this area is Political Dictionary, forming a work of universal reference, both constititutional and legal, and embracing the terms of civil administration, of political economy and social relations, and of all the more important statistical departments of finance and commerce (London, 1845–46) in two volumes. It is instructive that those fields which in the mid-nineteenth century seemed closely enough linked, empirically and practically, to be treated within a single work, have since the mid-twentieth century been torn asunder into mutually incompatible and incomprehensible camps of specialists, who have little to say to one another except at ceremonial occasions. This situation is not necessarily an advance in social knowledge. The 14-volume American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events … : Embracing political, ci il, military, and social affairs (New York, 1862–1875) does not take in political science per se, though it would surely have uses to the historian of the discipline. Already mentioned, John Lalor’s 1882 Cyclopedia of Political Science […] is among the first to use the term in the modern sense. Another amalgamated volume that typifies an era unafraid to mix disciplines was William Bliss’ Encyclopedia of Social Reform: Including political economy, political science, sociology and statistics (1897), some 1439 pages in length.

Dictionaries and lexicons of political science are as numerous as encyclopedias or handbooks are scarce. William Connolly’s Terms of Political Discourse (1974) and Maurice Cranston’s Glossary of Political Terms (1966) were produced by scholars who subsequently became well-known for other work. Joseph Dunner’s Dictionary of Political Science (1964), Jack Plano’s Political Science Dictionary (1973), and Roger Scruton’s A Dictionary of Political Thought (1982) are several among a score of similar works, which, as in neighboring fields, have been increasing in number, length, and complexity. Works of larger scope, in terms of length as well as conceptual breadth, include David Miller’s The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (1987, 1991), Hawkesworth and Kogan’s Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (1992, 2 vols.), and Goodin and Klingemann’s A New Handbook of Political Science (1996).

6. Psychology

Just as the number of undergraduate majors in psychology typically overwhelms those of all the other social sciences, with ratios often running five or six to one or higher, so with reference books attached to this enormous field. The most distinguished early survey was surely William James’s Principles of Psychology (1890, 2 Vols.), in print continuously ever since, in full and abridged versions. Clark Murray’s Handbook of Psychology (1885, 1888), James Sully’s Teacher’s Handbook of Psychology (1886, 1909, 5th edn.), and the Handbook of Psychology (1889–91, 2 Vols.) by William James’s equally famous contemporary, James Mark Baldwin, were each substantial compilations, and helped give psychology a head start toward producing a unified view of the social world vis-a-vis its sister disciplines. More eclectic viewpoints were expressed in Geoffrey Rhodes’s The Mind at Work: A Handbook of Applied Psychology (1914) (with help from the noted sociologist, L.L. Bernard) and in Leander Keyser’s A Handbook of Christian Psychology (1928, 2nd edn.). By 1931, however, the field had become thoroughly professionalized, as exemplified by Anderson, Buhler, and A. Freud, et al., A Handbook of Child Psychology (1933, 2nd edn.), and its companion volumes in the Clark University series, H. Banister et al., A Handbook of General Experimental Psychology (1934, 1125 pp.) as well as Allee, Allport, et al., A Handbook of Social Psychology (1935, 1995 pp.). Somewhat less innovative were W. B. Pillsbury’s Handbook of General Psychology (1942), Kimball Young’s Handbook of Social Psychology (1946), or Lindner and Selger’s Handbook of Correctional Psychology (1947). Specialization within the discipline had already reached such a pitch that in 1950 Norman Munn offered Handbook of Psychological Research on the Rat (first published in 1933 as An Introduction to Animal Psychology).

The 1950s were a boom period for psychology reference works of the larger scale, reflecting the discipline’s ever-widening influence in Western societies, with at least six more ‘handbooks’ entering the market. In more recent times innovation has once again become commonplace, with books like M. Gazzaniga’s Handbook of Psychobiology (1975), Raaig, Veldhoven, et al., Handbook of Economic Psychology (1988), and Crawford and Krebs’s Sociobiology and Psychology (1987), which later became the Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (1998). The last volume intimates a strong connection currently being forged between researchers with refreshed enthusiasm for neo-evolutionary doctrines on the one hand, and sociobiological explanations for behavior on the other. This general tendency—in some ways a repudiation of earlier causal models for social action and psychological states—has been given substantial impetus by the Human Genome Project and related studies that attempt to link physiology with behavior in an unmediated fashion.

Encyclopedias have also been a more regular feature of psychology’s disciplinary life than in other fields. Early efforts included McKean’s The Encyclopedia of Psychology: A series of graphic descriptions of human characteristics … (Brussels, 1928) and Philip Harriman et al., Encyclopedia of Psychology (1946). The 1970s exploded with new versions varying substantially in size and scope. Robert Goldenson’s Encyclopedia of Human Behavior: Psychology, Psychiatry, and Mental Health (1970, 2 vols.) brought together supplementary fields, just preceding the herculean effort by Benjamin Wolman et al. (300 editors and 1500 authors), International Encyclopedia of Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Neurology which took up 12 initial volumes (1977) plus a supplement (1983) and surely set a new standard for comprehensiveness of these allied research areas. Wolman also edited a one-volume Encyclopedia of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Psychoanalysis in 1996. Another half-dozen encyclopedias of psychology proper appeared during the late 1970s and 1980s, that of Raymond Corsini’s running to four volumes (Wiley, 1984); Frank Magill’s reference book production team brought out the Survey of Social Science: Psychology Series (1993) in six volumes, grandly renamed the International Encyclopedia of Psychology when reissued and reset in 1996. (Magill and his specialty editors have produced like volumes for all the social sciences in his Survey series.)

Ever since James Mark Baldwin published Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology (1901–05, 3 Vols.; new edn., 1928), there has never been a shortage of dictionaries for the discipline. The author has identified 35 in English alone, some of them of continuing interest simply for the peculiarity of their design, at least by today’s standards, e.g., William Taylor’s Taylor’s Dictionary of Bio-Psychology, Genetics, and Various Branches of Applied Psychology (1925, 148 pp.), or Vergilius Ferm’s A Dictionary of Pastoral Psychology (1955). Of the more standard fare—a score or more appear in most standard bibliographies—many were compiled by the same scholars who oversaw production of the encyclopedias named above, with the most lavish entries all appearing during the 1990s.


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