Rousseau's law

Subbiah Arunachalam subbiah_a at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 22 20:33:53 EST 2002

Dear friends:

Jonathan Furner has raised an important question. We
information scientists deal with references and
citations all the time, but are often slack in giving
appropriate references! Like in medicine we should
also insist on evidence-based writing and research.

[Subbiah Arunachalam]

--- Jonathan Furner <jfurner at UCLA.EDU> wrote: > Dear
SIGMETRICS list members:
> I wonder if one of you might be able to help me out
> with a small
> bibliographical question, about "Rousseau's law."
> In his article "American Philosophy Today" (Review
> of Metaphysics 46,
> no. 4, June 1993), Rescher mentions in a footnote
> "the principle
> known in the social sciences as Rousseau's Law,
> which maintains that
> in a population of size n the number of
> high-visibility members
> stands as [the square root of n]." Rescher cites
> another work of his
> own, Scientific Progress (1978), which is also cited
> by Diodato in
> his Dictionary of Bibliometrics (1994): "[The
> formula stating that]
> the volume of really 'important' production stands
> as the square root
> of the total production ... is in fact a rather well
> known formula in
> the study of elites ... Such a relationship was
> initially mooted by
> Jean Jacques Rousseau ..." Diodato also cites Zipf's
> Human Behavior
> and the Principle of Least Effort (1949): "This
> statement that is so
> frequently imputed to J. J. Rousseau seems to evade
> specific
> reference although its sense is apparent in his
> Contrat Social."
> Of course, the relationship between the size of a
> population and its
> square root is remarked upon by Price in Little
> Science, Big Science
> (1963). Price does not mention Rousseau; yet, in an
> article in IP&M,
> Nicholls (1988) notes that Price's law has its roots
> in Rousseau's
> law, which had "long been known in the social
> sciences."
> My (two-part) question is: Who was responsible for
> the first
> imputation of Rousseau's law to Rousseau? What
> evidence is there for
> believing that Rousseau was indeed responsible for
> expressing
> Rousseau's law?
> Thanks,
> Jonathan

Do You Yahoo!?
Everything you'll ever need on one web page
from News and Sport to Email and Music Charts

More information about the SIGMETRICS mailing list