Chicago Sociological School - History of Sociology

Chicago Sociological School

In the US, the Chicago School has become very famous. The famous University of Chicago (today it has more than 6,000 students), founded in 1857 and already in the first half of the 20th century. which became a major scientific center of the world, gave life to several scientific schools, and not only in social science. In 1942, here the first chain nuclear reaction was carried out by the leadership of E. Fermi.

Chicago School of Economics (G. Schultz, JL Laughlin, Veblen, F. Knight, W. Mitchell) in the mid-60's. XX century. moved to the position of neoliberalism. Its main representatives of the second generation - M. Friedman, F. Knight, G. Simons, J. Stigler - advocated non-interference of the state in the economy, believing that the market mechanism will ensure its functioning. The Chicago Psychological School (L. Thurstone, J. Angell, B. Rump, J. Watson, G. Ladd, G. Carr, J. G. Mead) originated in the framework of functional psychology. The Chicago School of Political Science (Ch. Merriam, H. Gossell, Lasswell, L. White, E. Freund), the Chicago Anthropological School (F. Starr, F. Cole, E. Sapir, Redfield), the Chicago School of Philosophy, oriented toward pragmatism (J. Dewey, J. Taft, E. Moore).

As already mentioned, at the University of Chicago in 1892 there was the world's first sociological faculty, headed by L. Small, from which the institutionalization of university sociology began. The university itself was founded by the Rockefeller family. The Chicago School of Sociology - phenomenon in sociological science is indeed unique, not only of interest to researchers, but also having an unconditional significance for the development of sociology and its affirmation as an academic discipline. Its founder is R. Park.

Chicago School of Sociology - one of the first schools in the social sciences - occupied a dominant position in American sociology in 1915-1935. and had a significant impact on the development of sociology. The preparatory period in the development of this school (1892-1915) is associated with the activities of the so-called Big Four - A. Small, J. Vincent, C. Henderson, W. Thomas. At the same time in Chicago, the first sociological journal was founded - "American Journal of Sociology"; (1895) and the American Sociological Society (1905). The distinctive features of the creativity of the representatives of the Chicago School are the organic combination of empirical research with theoretical generalizations, the combination of various approaches and methods (including "soft" ethnographic and "hard" quantitative methods), the promotion of hypotheses within the framework of a single organized and directed at specific practical goals program.

In the activities of the Chicago School can be distinguished characteristic features:

1) development of the so-called social activities (social work) - practical solutions to social problems generated by urbanization and industrialization (unemployment, poverty, crime). A social worker (psychologist, lawyer, sociologist) in the 1920s-1930s. was engaged in solving social problems of production - preventing conflicts and resolving labor disputes, improving working conditions and stabilizing staff. Gradually it was replaced by a specialized department of personnel management;

An important step in the development of sociology was made by representatives of the Chicago School

2) the appearance in 1918 of the joint work of W. Thomas and F. Znaniecki "Polish peasant in Europe and America", which marked a new frontier in the development of modern sociology;

3) development of the social and ecological theory of R. Park and E. Burgess, the main elements of which were social mobility, socioeconomic status, marginal personality.

The Chicago school is characterized by a combination of empirical research with theoretical generalizations, which at that time did not represent a "high theory" In the spirit of the structural functionalism of T. Parsons, ie. highly abstract, rigidly codified theoretical framework, claiming a universal explanation of social reality. Among the methodological innovations listed in the Chicago School, historians call a special genre of writing sociological works. Along with sociological works, the main part of the content of which was abstract theoretical reasoning, began to appear works based on detailed real life situations, having a lot of illustrative theoretical reflections of quotes from interviews, diaries and other personal documents of the subjects studied, which made these works more alive and close to the object under study. And the fact that through quotations the object of research in the work of sociologists "spoke", largely predetermined the development of further discussions about the role positions of the researcher and the researcher. The work of Chicago sociologists is a vivid example of the fact that the researcher can be represented in the work as an actor having the right to vote.

The first application for the leadership of the Chicago School in Sociology was the work of W. Thomas and F. Znaniecki "Polish peasant in Europe and America". Among the central themes of the study was the sociology of the city, developed by R. Park and E. Burgess in the framework of environmental sociology. The combination of research programs with the educational process at the university contributed to the emergence of a fundamentally new nature of university teaching, its connection with the solution of specific empirical tasks: the University of Chicago was the third American university of this type after the universities of J. Hopkins and Clark. The influence of the Chicago Sociological School on the development of sociology affected throughout the 1930s and 1940s, after which the initiative moved to Harvard and Columbia universities.

Newman L. Chicago School of Sociology . Sociological field research in the USA began to be carried out at the Department of Sociology of the University of Chicago, where later the well-known Chicago School of Sociology was formed. The influence of the Chicago School on Zero Research has gone through two stages. In the first stage, from the 1910s to the 1930s, the school used a variety of methods based on the "case-study" or life stories, including immediate observations, informal interviews, reading of documents, official records. In 1916, R. E. Park compiled a program for the social study of the city in Chicago. Under the influence of his own previous experience as a reporter, he argued that social scientists should leave libraries and "spoil their hands", conducting direct observations and conversations in the streets, in bars, in lobbies of luxury hotels. Several early studies became the basis of the early Chicago School of Sociology as a descriptive study of street life, accompanied by a small analysis.

At the first stage, the journalistic and anthropological models of research were combined. On the second (from the beginning of the 1940s to the 1960s), the Chicago School developed a special observation as a special technique. It used an extended anthropological model in relation to groups and environments in the society in which the researcher himself lived. There were three principles: to study people in a natural environment or situation; to study people through direct interaction with them; achieve an understanding of the social world and make theoretical conclusions about the prospects of the members of the group.

Over time, the method has shifted from an accurate description to a theoretical analysis based on the researcher's participation in the field.

After the Second World War, field studies of quality workers were faced with increased competition from questionnaires and quantitative research. In the period after the Second World War until the 1970s. the share of quality field research among all social studies has declined. However, in the 1970s-1980s, there were some changes that revived them. First, field studies have borrowed much from cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology, folklore and linguistics. Secondly, the researchers revised the epistemological roots and philosophical preconditions of social science, which confirmed this method. Finally, field researchers began to become more aware of their techniques and methods. They wrote about methodology and systematized research equipment.

Currently, field researchers-qualifiers have a special set of methodologies. They directly observe and interact with members of the group in their natural surroundings to understand their perspective "from within". At the same time, they stop at the activist or social constructivist perspectives of social life.

Among the leaders of the Chicago school are usually called Λ. Small, J. Vincent, C. Henderson, W. Thomas. The contribution to its formation was also made by L. Ward, W. Sumner, F. Giddings, E. Ross, C. Cooley. Within the school, three generations of researchers were formed: the generations of A. Small, R. Park, W. Otborn; sometimes they are added to the fourth generation - since the early 1950's. up to our time, this generation of G. Bloomer.

The school exists and enjoys a high professional reputation and today (its representatives specialize in the problems of urbanism and the environment), but not as an unconditional scientific leader.

Sociological Workshop

Prepare a written work on the contribution of Chicago sociologists in the formation of the sociology of the city for 3-4 pages.

thematic pictures

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)