Diverse Histories of American Sociology

Diverse Histories of American Sociology

Diverse Histories of American Sociology

Diverse Histories of American Sociology

Synopsis

This volume presents views of American sociology from minority groups and important intellectual movements that did not merge into the mainstream. Coinciding with the centenary of the American Sociological Association, it provides little-known background information to the development of the field. A first section highlights tensions between impartial scientific sociology and scientific social reform. A second section uncovers the experiences of female, African American, and Latino pioneers in the field, as well as a sociologist from a religious minority. A third section traces the organizational history of the field, including gendered, racial, regional, and outsider perspectives. A final section focuses on several neglected trajectories. With this volume, American sociology can be seen in its full context.

Excerpt

Not until 1999 was a History of Sociology Section formed within the American Sociological Association. Largely as a result of the initiative and efforts over several years of Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley, the Section on the History of Sociology in the American Sociological Association obtained formal status in 2000 with a membership of 316, its own by-laws, a slate of officers, and a newsletter entitled “Timelines.” The first elected section chair was Helena Znaniecki Lopata.

At its business session during the 2003 meetings in Atlanta of the American Sociological Association's Section on the History of Sociology, 2003 Section President Michael Keen of Indiana University, South Bend, proposed the publication of a volume that would bring together essays highlighting the multiple and diverse histories of American sociology. The idea was to have the publication of the volume coincide with the Centenary of the A.S.A. in 2005. During the following year, at the suggestion of 2004 Section President Patricia Madoo Lengermann of George Washington University, the Publications Committee of the A.S.A. approved sponsorship of the project by the Section.

As early as 1924 sociologist Albion Small recognized not only the importance of recording and understanding the history of sociology, but also of giving attention to the contributions of those “who were outside the ranks of the sociologists” who were, nevertheless, significant in the emergence and development of the discipline. As an early founder, Small made a strong case for the centrality of the history of sociology and for recognition of the impact of such factors as politics, nationality, and ethnicity in the shaping of the sociological enterprise. One of the most important recent transformations in sociology in the United States is the revived and growing appreciation of the significance of the history of the discipline for our self-understanding as practitioners and students of society. As a community of social scientists we have come to recognize the assets of historical understanding and the liabilities of choosing to discredit or ignore that history.

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