A member of the Chicago School of Sociology, former President of the American Sociological Society, and author of numerous studies of black family life in urban America, including The Negro Family in the United States (1939), The Negro in the United States (1949), and Black Bourgeoisie (1957). In the last of these, Frazier described the black business class in the USA as a ‘lumpen-bourgeoisie’, which exaggerated its economic well-being to help create a world of make-believe into which its members could escape from their inferiority and inconsequence in American society. (The term ‘lumpen-bourgeoisie’ had been used slightly earlier by C. Wright Mills in his White Collar (1951), to designate the multitude of white firms ‘with a high death rate, which do a fraction of the total business done in their lines and engage a considerably larger proportion of people than their quota of business’.) Although sometimes accused of being empirically suspect, Frazier's work ranges far beyond its overt subject-matter of race relations, and makes a number of stimulating and still controversial points about the values and culture of modern Americans.
Subjects: Sociology — United States History.