Sorokin, Pitirim Alexandrovitch (pĭtĭrēmˈ ălˌĭgzănˈdrəvĭch sōrōˈkĭn) [key], 1889–1968, Russian-American sociologist. Supporting himself as artisan and clerk, he was able to study at the Univ. of St. Petersburg and to teach sociology. Sorokin was imprisoned three times by the czarist regime; during the Russian Revolution he was a member of the Kerensky government. After the October Revolution he engaged in anti-Bolshevik activities and was condemned to death; the sentence was commuted to banishment. He emigrated (1923) to the United States and was naturalized in 1930. Sorokin was professor of sociology at the Univ. of Minnesota (1924–30) and at Harvard (1930–55). His writings cover the breadth of sociology; his controversial theories of social process and of the historical typology of cultures are expounded in Social and Cultural Dynamics (4 vol., 1937–41; rev. and abridged ed. 1957) and many other works. He was also interested in social stratification, the history of sociological theory, and altruistic behavior.
See his autobiography, Leaves from a Russian Diary—and Thirty Years After (enl. ed. 1950, repr. 1970); study by J. J. P. Maquet (1951, repr. 1973); F. R. Cowell, Values in Human Society; the Contributions of P. A. Sorokin to Sociology (1970).