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Sociology in America

A History

Though the word “sociology” was coined in Europe, the field of sociology grew most dramatically in America. Despite that disproportionate influence, American sociology has never been the subject of an extended historical examination. To remedy that situation—and to celebrate the centennial of the American Sociological Association—Craig Calhoun assembled a team of leading sociologists to produce Sociology in America.

Rather than a story of great sociologists or departments, Sociology in America is a true history of an often disparate field—and a deeply considered look at the ways sociology developed intellectually and institutionally. It explores the growth of American sociology as it addressed changes and challenges throughout the twentieth century, covering topics ranging from the discipline’s intellectual roots to understandings (and misunderstandings) of race and gender to the impact of the Depression and the 1960s.

Sociology in America will stand as the definitive treatment of the contribution of twentieth-century American sociology and will be required reading for all sociologists.


Andrew Abbott, Daniel Breslau, Craig Calhoun, Charles Camic, Miguel A. Centeno, Patricia Hill Collins, Marjorie L. DeVault, Myra Marx Ferree, Neil Gross, Lorine A. Hughes, Michael D. Kennedy, Shamus Khan, Barbara Laslett, Patricia Lengermann, Doug McAdam, Shauna A. Morimoto, Aldon Morris, Gillian Niebrugge, Alton Phillips, James F. Short Jr., Alan Sica, James T. Sparrow, George Steinmetz, Stephen Turner, Jonathan VanAntwerpen, Immanuel Wallerstein, Pamela Barnhouse Walters, Howard Winant


“Sociology is one of this country’s most distinctive contributions to twentieth-century world culture. Its role has been obscured by the historic prestige of the European Founders of sociology, yet it was here that the agonies and ecstasies of creating an internationally respected discipline were experienced. With the publication of Sociology in America, we at last have a chorus of voices who know how to do justice to its bite, verve, and gravitas.”--Donald N. Levine, University of Chicago

Donald N. Levine

“This remarkable collection of essays offers a comprehensive look at the immensely complex field of sociology over the past hundred years in the United States. It shines with intelligence: it was intelligently conceived, intelligently organized, intelligently introduced—most of that the work of its editor, Craig Calhoun—and the individual essays are uniformly excellent. A generation from now we may need a similar volume to locate sociology as a discipline on the intellectual map, but for now the task has been accomplished superbly.”--Kai Erikson, Yale University

Kai Erikson

"This volume is more than a history; it is also a detailed analysis of the growth of a social science discipline. Readers who take the time to piece together the detailed narrative contained in these pages will be well rewarded. No recommendation can do it sufficient justice."


"[The book] succeeds in giving a sociological history of sociology--that is, it understands sociologists as agents acting within a specific field and responding to pressures. . . . Indeed, through the contribution of some of the leading American sociologists in each field, every chapter opens new perspectives for the study of the history of sociology and for its renewal."

Jérôme Melançon | Canadian Journal of Sociology

"A long-awaited and necessary first step toward a historians’ history of the discipline."

Richard Caputo | Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

Table of Contents

ix Preface

ONE Sociology in America: An Introduction Craig Calhoun

TWO The American Spencerians: Theorizing a New Science Daniel Breslau

THREE Thrice Told: Narratives of Sociology’s Relation to Social Work Patricia Lengermann & Gillian Niebrugge

FOUR A Life in the First Half-Century of Sociology: Charles Ellwood and the Division of Sociology Stephen Turner

FIVE Knowledge from the Field Marjorie L. DeVault

SIX Pragmatism, Phenomenology, and Twentieth-Century American Sociology Neil Gross

SEVEN On Edge: Sociology during the Great Depression and the New Deal Charles Camic

EIGHT Hot War, Cold War: The Structures of Sociological Action, 1940-1955 Andrew Abbott & James T. Sparrow

NINE American Sociology before and after World War II: The (Temporary) settling of a Disciplinary Field George Steinmetz

TEN Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy, and Hierarchy: "Mainstream" Sociology and its Challengers Craig Calhoun & Jonathan VanAntwerpen

ELEVEN From Relevance to Irrelevance: The Curious Impact of the Sixties on Public Sociology Doug McAdam

TWELVE The Culture of Sociology in Disarray: The Impact of 1968 on U.S. Sociology Immanuel Wallerstein

THIRTEEN Assessing the Feminist Revolution: The Presence and Absence of Gender in Theory and Practice Myra Marx Ferree, Shamus Rahman Khan & Shauna A. Morimoto

FOURTEEN Feminist Sociology in the Twentieth Century United States: Life Stories in Historical Context Barbara Laslett

FIFTEEN Sociology of Race and W.E.B. DuBois: The Path Not Taken Aldon D. Morris

SIXTEEN The Dark Side of the Force: One Hundred Years of the Sociology of Race Howard Winant

SEVENTEEN Pushing the Boundaries or Business as Usual? Race, Class, and Gender Studies and Sociological Inquiry Patricia Hill Collins

EIGHTEEN Criminology, Criminologists, and the Sociological Enterprise James F. Short Jr. with Lorine A. Hughes

NINETEEN Betwixt and Between Discipline and Profession: A History of Sociology of Education Pamela Barnhouse Walters

TWENTY Internationalism and Global Transformations in American Sociology Michael D. Kennedy & Miguel A. Centeno

TWENTY-ONE Defining Disciplinary Identity: The Historiography of U.S. Sociology Alan Sica

Appendix: Histories of American Sociology: Readings and Resources Alton Phillips & Jonathan VanAntwerpen

List of Contributors



ASA History of Sociology Section: Distinguished Scholarly Book Award

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