Title page from What Social Classes Owe to Each Other

What Social Classes Owe to Each Other

Sumner was one of the founding fathers of American sociology who explored the relationship between the individual and the state from an individualist and free market perspective. This collection of essays is a good example of his approach to the subject.

Key Quotes

The State

The history of the human race is one long story of attempts by certain persons and classes to obtain control of the power of the State, so as to win earthly gratifications at the expense of others. People constantly assume that there is something metaphysical and sentimental about government. At…


The modern industrial system is a great (example of) social co-operation. It is automatic and instinctive in its operation. The adjustments of the organs take place naturally. The parties are held together by impersonal force—supply and demand. They may never see each other; they may be separated…