Bernard, L. L. "The Teaching of Sociology in the United States in the Last Fifty Years,"

 

Bernard, L. L. "The Teaching of Sociology in the United States in the Last Fifty Years,"
American Journal of Sociology 50 (Spring, 1945), pp. 534-548.

Here is an "elder statesman" of professional sociology complaining about texts in sociology.
Specifically, he has reviewed texts written for the sociological marketplace in the first half
century of professional sociology. What he finds in texts is not to his liking. The whole
questionable business about feral children, for example, seems to emerge and get passed off as
evidence for the sociological imagination. We have used "questionable" data to support our case.
Then, too, these texts have contained materials derived from ideologically suspect sources: thus
the geneticists who favored the entire eugenics movement found no fault in what passed for
sociology. And even the now discredited work of Goddard, The Kallikak Family, found a home
in sociology. As if all that weren't enough, Bernard suggests that we were simply very eclectic in
our use of materials derived from other fields: anthropology, economics, and history were all
employed in the service of professional sociology. To say simply that we used "errors," or that
we pilfered from other sources, or that we uncritically accepted materials from other fields, is to
miss the point at which Bernard takes aim: the legitimation of our own distinctive approach.
Does sociology have a place in the university and, if so, what is that place and how may it be
described?

Sociology grew large and prospered in this country for the years before WWII, but it did not
necessarily wax successfully for doing only the best things.