William Lloyd Warner


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A leading American sociologist of the 1930s and 1940s. Among his many projects was the major and influential community study of Newburyport in New England life in the early 1930s, published in five volumes (the so-called ‘Yankee City’ studies) dealing with class, community, factory life, ethnic groupings, and religion and symbolism. The first of these (The Social Life of a Modern Community, 1941) spells out in detail the ahistorical functionalism that underpins Warner's sociology—and which is acknowledged as its most serious weakness. He later studied the more industrial city of Morris, Illinois (Democracy in Jonesville, 1949). As one commentary has observed, Warner's work has so often been criticized that it is perhaps time to call a moratorium, although it should also be acknowledged that he broke an academic taboo and opened up discussion of stratification in the United States—even if his notion of class absorbed the three analytically distinct concepts of class, status, and party into one vertical dimension of so-called class, and is (in fact) a measure of prestige. An abridged version of the Yankee City series as a whole was published in 1963.

Subjects: Sociology.

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