American sociology  

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"In Chapter 8 of The Society of the Spectacle Guy Debord includes a critical analysis of the works of three American sociologists. He discusses at length Daniel J. Boorstin’s The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America (1961), which Debord argues that Boorstin missed the concept of Spectacle. In thesis 192, Debord mentions some of American sociologists that have described the general project of developed capitalism which "aims to recapture the fragmented worker as a personality well integrated in the group;" the examples mentioned by Debord are David Riesman, author of The Lonely Crowd (1950), and William H. Whyte, author of the 1956 bestseller The Organization Man. Among the 1950s sociologists that are usually compared to Riesman and Whyte, is C. Wright Mills, author of White Collar: The American Middle Classes. Riesman's "Lonely Crowd" term is also used in thesis 28." --Sholem Stein

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Lester Frank Ward is often described as a father of American sociology and served as the first president of the American Sociological Association in 1905 and served as such until 1907. He published Dynamic Sociology in 1883; Outlines of Sociology in 1898; Pure Sociology in 1903; and Applied Sociology in 1906. Also in 1906, at the age of 65 he was appointed to professor of sociology at Brown University.

Following Ward as president of the American Sociological Association was William Graham Sumner from 1908 to 1909. He also held the first professorship of sociology at Yale College, and in 1876, Sumner became the first to teach a course entitled "sociology" in the English-speaking world. His course focused predominantly on the work of Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. He was ideologically opposed to the sociology of Ward as he felt that society could not be steered by scientific intervention, and famously stated the alternative to "survival of the fittest" was the "survival of the unfittest." However, he also opposed the grand theorizing of Spencer. During the Progressive Era in the United States, social Darwinism became a contentious topic and Sumner and his course at Yale College was criticized for including Spencerian ideas. This almost led to Sumner's expulsion from teaching. His most famous sociological works are What Social Classes Owe to Each Other in 1883 and Folkways: a study of the sociological importance of usages, manners, customs, mores, and morals in 1906.


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