American Sociology: From Pre-Disciplinary to Post-Normal by Stephen Turner (auth.)

By Stephen Turner (auth.)

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205–6, 308; Pooley, 2006). s. Sociologists had been associated with, and promoted, Lyndon Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ welfare efforts, and when these came to be discredited, condemned sociology as a brand. A bitter generational conflict ensued between young male sociologists, hostile to the generation of Merton and Parsons students, and this generation, which occupied positions of power in a situation of rapid decline. The demise of the idea of an overarching consensual theoretical framework, and the emergence of a practical kind of expertise represented by Coleman’s studies, led to a bifurcation between expertise and sociology as ‘science’.

355) was statistics-laden and devastating to the idea that this group would ‘lead’ the Black masses: instead, he recorded their increasing indifference. This idea was a target for other Black sociologists as well, including both E. Franklin Frazier and Oliver Cromwell Cox, who were otherwise antagonists. Although Johnson was personally supportive of Black cultural achievement, his factual approach was congenial to a political strategy of practical aid and gradual transformation, but was not designed to build solidarity through racial pride.

As noted earlier, the first and most important of these models was the ‘social survey’, promoted especially by the Russell Sage Foundation. The classic examples of these are the Pittsburgh (1909) and Springfield Surveys (1918, 1920). These were not surveys in the later sense, or even the earlier one of the labor statistics tradition. Rather they were attempts to collect expert knowledge from local charitable organization leaders together with information based on health and other statistics to produce a coherent picture of the city which could be fed back to the public by way of an exhibition designed to produce social awareness leading to action.

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