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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2112
Linda Hunter

March 27, 2013 – SOAN 2111/2 – Chicago School LECTURE Chicago School, Thomas, Addams, Symbolic Interactionism, Mead and Goffman I The Chicago School II W.I. Thomas (1863-1947) III Jane Addams (1860-1935) IV George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) V Symbolic Interactionism VI Erving Goffman (1922-1982) I The Chicago School - The department of sociology at the University of Chicago was founded in 1892 by Albion Small o Robert Park developed a system of general concepts of social life, social competition, social conflict - The Chicago school serves as a reference to the urban sociologists at the University of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s - The Chicago School maintains several basic premises: o 1 – theory must be embedded into research so that theorizing does not become the formulation of abstract concepts, but instead ideas which are closely connected to empirical findings o 2 – the incorporation of field work, especially using ethnographic methods, like participant observation rd o 3 – emphasis on a specific place or environment so that the research is always grounded in a community, city or neighbourhood o 4 – the importance of recording details of the lives and speech of specific individuals, so that fieldwork is always about human lives and activities th o 5 – a focus on topics such as ethnicity, cultural diversity in the community, social deviance o 6 – maintaining a relatively short timeframe of study o 7 – writing in a lively way about real people individuals whose actions, interactions, and voices are recorded in field notes, interviews and life narratives Decline of the Chicago School - increasing preoccupation with being scientific (i.e. sophisticate methods and employing statistical analysis) - some resentment of Chicago’s dominance of both the American Sociological Society and the American Journal of Sociology Note - central figure in the Chicago department was Herbert Blumner who in 1937 was in fact responsible for coining the phrase symbolic interactionism - Chicago school focused greatly on ethnographies and life history experience – many ethnographies came out of the Chicago School – the Jack Roller, the Polish Peasant, the Professional Thief, the Cocktail Waitress, the Hobo – Ethnographies where the life was studied on the inside March 27, 2013 – SOAN 2111/2 – Chicago School LECTURE - Life history is not conventional data, it’s not fiction, it’s not conventional data – important way to gather info. – shares info in an autographical way – you would not call it autobiographical data – it shares a narrative form often from a first person point of view – it attempts to gather material in the formulation of general sociological theory – sensitive writing, dramatic pace – urgency that any novelist would be glad to write - Ethnography explains a way of life in which people may not necessarily have contact to or knowledge about - II W.I. Thomas (1862-1947) - William Isaac Thomas was born in 1863 - W.I. Thomas’ social-psychological statement in his famous book The Polish Peasant that “if mend define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” (Emphasizing the importance of the people thin and how this affects what they do –a microscopic approach) stood in stark contrast to the macroscopic, social-structural and social-cultural perspectives of such European scholars as Marx, Weber, Durkheim - Definition of the situation – if people define situations as being real, then those definitions are real in their consequences o how people mentally define the situation – behaviour is shaped by a consequence of the definition of the situation (eg. Hunter thinks there are ghosts in the top right corner of the class, she will teach the class in fear ??) - Thomas claims an individual’s behavior or reaction to a situation is not automatic, but rather it is constructed on the basis of the meanings that are attributed to the situation – on a case by case basis o Reality itself is always created by the definition of the situation for it lays the foundation for how people will interpret their own action and others o We create reality and define it. III JANE ADDAMS (1860-1935) - We notice women theorists represent a coherent state
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