What does William Sumner think of social reformers and why? 

Expert Answers
thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his work “What Social Classes Owe to Each Other,” William Sumner points to social reformers as a problem with regard to the interrelation between the different social classes. He states that the social reformers impose decisions upon the State about what should be done for the ‘poor man’ without due regard as to how these decisions will be implemented. He asserts that it is impossible for the State to support an individual without taking from another. He also points out that it is likely that the man from whom resources are obtained for the purpose of support works to either produce or save what they earn. Therefore, it is unfair for the government to sustain a non contributing member of the society with proceeds obtained from a contributing member of the society. He also concludes that all individuals considered consumers within a State should equally participate in its general development by offering their capital, land or labor to ensure they are not a burden to the society. His assessment of social reformers is that they error in viewing societies collectively while failing to recognize individual responsibility.