Article

Chicago School of Sociology

Mary Jo Deegan

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online February 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0007
Chicago School of Sociology

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The Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago established an early intellectual and professional dominance in the discipline. Founded in 1892, it began the first graduate program in the profession, trained a large proportion of all doctoral students from 1892 until the early 1930s, and helped define the theory and methods of the profession for decades. The first chair of the department, Albion W. Small, was the founding editor of one of the leading journals, the American Journal of Sociology, in 1895, and he played a significant role in establishing the major professional organization, the American Sociological Society, in 1905 (this was renamed the American Sociological Association [ASA] in 1959). The story of the Chicago school of sociology (CSS) is complex because it encompasses almost a century of work with different powerful intellectuals claiming priority and leadership as well as a vast literature produced by scholars from Chicago and around the world. The CSS established textbooks, classic works outlining the boundaries and interests of the profession, a largely qualitative methodology supported by popular ethnographies, and specializations in several important areas of study, namely, immigration, urban sociology, juvenile delinquency, crime and deviance, race relations, women, and other concentrations. The common worldview emerges from John Dewey and, especially, George Herbert Mead. Both Mead and Dewey worked with a large network of academicians, students, activists, family, friends, and the community and educational organizations in which they implemented their ideas. This vast interconnecting group and associated institutions were anchored at the University of Chicago but included other people and academic institutions, such as William James at Harvard University in Boston and Charles H. Cooley at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Mead’s most important book for sociologists, Mind, Self and Society (Mead 1934), cited under General Works, CSS establishes the social nature of the self, thought, and community as a product of human meaning and interaction. Each person becomes human through interaction with others. Institutional patterns are learned in communities dependent on shared language and symbols. Human intelligence is vital for reflective behavior, and social scientists have a special responsibility to help create democratic decision making and political action, especially in the city. The scientific model of observation, data collections, and interpretation is fundamentally a human project. Sociologists can learn to take the role of others because this is how all humans learn to become part of society.

Article.  11108 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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