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African American Pioneers of Sociology

African American Pioneers of Sociology: A Critical History

Translated by Peter Feldstein
  • Book Info
    African American Pioneers of Sociology
    Book Description:

    In African American Pioneers of Sociology,Pierre Saint-Arnaud examines the lasting contributions that African Americans have made to the field of sociology.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8732-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    ‘Who now reads Spencer?’ For my purposes, that opening sentence from Talcott Parsons’s foundational workThe Structure of Social Action¹can be paraphrased as follows: Who now reads William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, who was ‘not only the founder of the field [of sociology] in its modern, empirical, and theoretically sophisticated form but also arguably the founder of modern American sociology tout court’?² Who has even heard the names Edward Franklin Frazier, Charles Spurgeon Johnson, Horace Roscoe Cayton, or Oliver Cromwell Cox – thinkers who in the first sixty years of the twentieth century forged an authentic African American sociology and...

  5. PART ONE Anglo-American Sociology and the Race Question
    (pp. 13-14)

    The century of Anglo-American sociology of race relations from 1865 to 1965 can be conveniently divided into three phases: from the Civil War to the First World War, between the two world wars, and from the Second World War to 1965. The first phase saw the emergence of the discipline with its characteristic scientific and ideological approach. In the second, the discipline asserted its difference from its European sources and moved toward a putatively scientific definition of race relations as a societal phenomenon. The final phase, from the vibrancy of postwar America to the agitation of the 1960s, was marked...

  6. 1 From the Civil War to the First World War
    (pp. 15-44)

    The first English-speaking intellectuals to present themselves as sociologists in the United States came onto the scene during the last three decades of the nineteenth century. Of practically equal importance, these northern and Midwestern ‘founding fathers’ – Franklin Giddings, Edward Ross, Lester Ward, William Sumner, Albion Small, and Charles Cooley – were keenly interested in developing a new science of society as well as promoting a broad range of social reforms.¹ As clergymen or descendents of clergymen they had made a clear choice to transfer their moral concerns and careers from the church pulpit to the university lectern. In terms of their...

  7. 2 The Rise of the Chicago School
    (pp. 45-84)

    The most important change that occurred in the Anglo-American sociological corpus after the First World War was the gravitation from grand theoretical speculation – general theory – to a much more empirically focused approach.¹ This, it must be emphasized, was a gradual rather than an abrupt change of direction; while the prestige of general theory diminished from its nineteenth-century heyday, prominent sociologists continued to cultivate it.² As for the substantive premises of the discipline, they remained unaltered. Evolutionary naturalism in particular retained its pivotal role as an explanatory principle.

    Among the founding fathers, Sumner and Ward had died before the First World...

  8. 3 From the Second World War to the 1960s
    (pp. 85-116)

    True to the approach taken in the rest of this book, I shall begin by reconstructing the sociopolitical landscape of this period – both the general background and the current events more specifically relevant to race relations – then go on to examine the sociological approaches to race relations developed contemporaneously, sometimes in direct response to the social context, at times as an outgrowth of entirely different factors.

    The 1940s began with another mass mobilization for world war. The population was increasing,¹ making available an abundant pool of labor supported by fabulous economic resources.² A return to full employment in such a...

  9. PART TWO: The Genesis of African American Sociology, 1896–1964
    (pp. 117-120)

    As everyone knows, it was as slaves that large numbers of Africans first came to the Americas at the start of the seventeenth century. The number of slaves living in the country by the early 1800s exceeded 330,000.¹ Jefferson’s administration passed legislation to eliminate slavery, but it had no effect in practice, and so the system persisted. Blacks continued to be sold at auction like beasts of burden into lives of extreme harshness. One especially pernicious effect of the draconian social system put in place on the southern plantations was the destruction of ancestral African heritage. After the Civil War...

  10. 4 W.E.B. Du Bois: Scientific Sociology and Exclusion
    (pp. 121-156)

    Du Bois was born in 1868 into a poor family in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a small town relatively untouched by racial discrimination. A mulatto of French Huguenot, Dutch, and African descent, his education exposed him to the traditional values of Yankee Protestant culture. After initial schooling between 1885 and 1894, he hoped to continue his studies at Harvard, but this proved impossible because of inadequate finances. Instead, he accepted a scholarship to Fisk University in Nashville, a white-governed institution for black students that was affiliated with the Congregationalist church; he graduated in 1888. It was during this time in the...

  11. 5 Four ‘New Negroes’
    (pp. 157-203)

    Du Bois’s premature withdrawal from academia left the work of building an original black American sociology tragically unfinished. The void was not filled until after the war by a new generation of southern blacks who were motivated, among other things, by the antiracist ideological movement in which the founding of the NAACP and its journalCrisis(1915) were milestones. Deeply opposed to segregation and intellectually ambitious, these self-styled ‘New Negroes’ were keen to advance their education at northern universities. However, they did not all conceive of sociology and its application to the black condition in the same way; in fact,...

  12. 6 Edward Franklin Frazier
    (pp. 204-248)

    The years following Du Bois’s withdrawal from sociology in 1910 saw the publication of a number of sociological works cast in the mold of hisPhiladelphia Negro: Mary White Ovington’sHalf a Man: The Status of the Negro in New York(1911), George Edmund Haynes’sThe Negro at Work in New York City(1912), and John Daniels’sIn Freedom’s Birthplace: A Study of the Boston Negroes(1914).¹ These three works kept the emerging black sociology vital by extending Du Bois’s empirical approach to the blacks of other cities. However, none of these works attempted to expand or renew Du Bois’s...

  13. PART THREE From Explanation to Comprehension
    (pp. 249-294)

    Here – in a sentence that might have served as an epigraph for this work – we have an exhaustive definition of a research program (sensuLakatos) in the sociology of scientific knowledge. This formulation suggests the need to break down such a program into at least six different analytical dimensions, each suitable material for one or more sociological research projects. For my purposes here, I shall first concentrate on the genealogy of American sociological ideas about race, casting a critical look at the cognitive cores of the two major scientific constructions reconstituted in the preceding chapters. The question to answer is...

  14. Postface: Imagining a Different History
    (pp. 295-298)

    With his phenomenal longevity, W.E.B. Du Bois was the figure who had the longest and most continuous involvement in the societal upheavals of the period covered by this book. By the first decade of the twentieth century, he had become an inspiration to many African Americans on the strength of prophetic pronouncements such as this one, from 1900: ‘[t]he problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.’¹ Lawrence Young and Lynn England speculate as...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 299-344)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 345-370)
  17. Index
    (pp. 371-381)