SOCIOL 2S06 Lecture Notes - The Philadelphia Negro, Georg Simmel, Social Forces

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Published on 22 Apr 2013
School
McMaster University
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCIOL 2S06
Professor
Du Bois
April-04-13
6:53 PM
The Theoretical Ideas of Du Bois
A) Theoretical Orientation
1) Theory and Society
- he never presented an overarching theory or society
- he distrusted the grand theory produced in the 19Th C
- Du Bois' work was quite different from Marx, Weber and Durkheim as these
theorists did write about overarching theory and were interested in grand theory
- on the other hand, Du Bois was much more interested in developing theory that
focused on specific issues and problems in society
- therefore, his work was similar to the work of Simmel (looking at smaller aspects
of society)
2) Theory and Research
- he was not interested in deduction --> uninterested in taking theoretical ideas
and testing them against empirical observations
- he was interested in induction --> begin with empirical observations and then
develop theoretical ideas
3) Theory and Practice
- similarity to Marx, Du Bois did not distinguish between theory and practice -->
uninterested in theory; only interested in developing sociological theory as a way of
advancing political practice
- Du Bois thought that theoretical ideas make it possible to understand social
reality --> once we understand social reality, we can move toward social change
4) Theory and Interests
- connected theory to his interests through Racial Inequality, Race Relations, and
Social Change
- early in his career, Du Bois thought that theory derived from research could
destroy the ignorance on which racism was built --> he thought this research could
alter beliefs and attitudes -- talking about changing ideas in society which will lead
to social change [this is similar to Social Feminists -- social reform]
- later in his career, he came to realize that economic interests shaped class and
race relations --> realized that these capitalist interests would be too large to
overcome by simply changing beliefs and attitudes through changing ideas because
race and racism are embedded in society --> he came to the view that theory had
to provide the basis for drastic political action
B) Empirical Studies
- Du Bois proceeded through induction to conduct a bunch of empirical studies
which led to the development of theoretical ideas
1) The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study
This book was published in 1899
- he utilized a large number of methods to study blacks in Philadelphia but
mainly used Ethnography (a type of field research that involves providing
descriptions of people and culture
- he interviewed blacks in 2,500 households in Philadelphia (with the help of
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Document Summary

The theoretical ideas of du bois: theoretical orientation. He never presented an overarching theory or society. He distrusted the grand theory produced in the 19th c. Du bois" work was quite different from marx, weber and durkheim as these theorists did write about overarching theory and were interested in grand theory. On the other hand, du bois was much more interested in developing theory that focused on specific issues and problems in society. Therefore, his work was similar to the work of simmel (looking at smaller aspects of society) He was not interested in deduction --> uninterested in taking theoretical ideas and testing them against empirical observations. He was interested in induction --> begin with empirical observations and then develop theoretical ideas. Similarity to marx, du bois did not distinguish between theory and practice --> uninterested in theory; only interested in developing sociological theory as a way of advancing political practice.

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