a1 Columbia University
The sociologist's apparent bias against historical data is founded in the main on the restricted definition of a “fact” which he has come to accept during the past generation. Having found by tedious and pedestrian work that many popular impressions about social relations in our own time are incorrect, he has become sceptical of the possibility of ascertaining the facts about historical populations whose members can no longer be interviewed or observed. But I sense among my fellow sociologists a diminishing parochialism and for this reason I welcome Lawrence Stone's work on marriage patterns among the English nobility in the 16th and 17th centuries. I should like to weigh his conclusions by reference both to general social science principles and to cross-cultural data.