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Chicago School


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A name applied to sociologists at the University of Chicago's Department of Sociology in the first half of the 20th century (especially the 1920s and 1930s), whose pioneering and often qualitative research on urban life used the city itself as a laboratory for human enquiry, and focused upon distinctive urban cultures. Major analytical themes of the Chicago School were the ecology and culture of modern urban living, involving detailed studies of particular figures and places such as the hobo and the taxi dance-hall. Such studies can still be seen as templates for the study of sport and leisure cultures, combining as they did the close observation of relatively invisible facets of city life and urban culture as, methodologically, researchers prioritized detailed and sustained fieldwork into the cultures of the city. A more social psychological dimension of the School's work led to the formulation of symbolic interactionism and sociologically rooted interactionist accounts of social life. See also Mead, George Herbert; Wirth, Louis.

Subjects: Sociology.


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