Tag Archives: sociology

New JHBS: William McDougall, the Chicago Committee on the Behavioral Sciences, & More

William McDougall, 1938The Fall 2016 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore the work done by psychologist William McDougall (right) during his time in the United States, the Chicago Committee on the Behavioral Sciences during the mid-twentieth century, the development of the National Anthropological Film Center, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“WILLIAM MCDOUGALL, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST: A RECONSIDERATION OF NATURE-NURTURE DEBATES IN THE INTERWAR UNITED STATES,” by ANNE C. ROSE. The abstract reads,

The British-born psychologist William McDougall (1871–1938) spent more than half of his academic career in the United States, holding successive positions after 1920 at Harvard and Duke universities. Scholarly studies uniformly characterize McDougall’s relationship with his New World colleagues as contentious: in the standard view, McDougall’s theory of innate drives clashed with the Americans’ experimentation into learned habits. This essay argues instead that rising American curiosity about inborn appetites—an interest rooted in earlier pragmatic philosophy and empirically investigated by interwar scientists—explains McDougall’s migration to the United States and his growing success there. A review of McDougall’s intellectual and professional ties, evolving outside public controversy, highlights persistent American attention to natural agency and complicates arguments voiced by contemporaries in favor of nurture.

“WALKING THE TIGHTROPE: THE COMMITTEE ON THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES AND ACADEMIC CULTURES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, 1949–1955,” PHILIPPE FONTAINE. The abstract reads,

The Chicago Committee on the Behavioral Sciences occupies a special place in the eponymous movement. Involving prominent figures such as psychologist James G. Miller and neurophysiologist Ralph W. Gerard, this committee embodied the common belief among behavioral scientists that a cross-disciplinary approach using natural science methods was key to understanding major issues facing mid-century American society. This interdivisional committee fell under the jurisdiction of both the natural and social sciences. As such, its flagship project, an institute of mental sciences, had to face the reluctance both of natural scientists who thought it inadequately scientific and of social scientists who regard its efforts as too narrow in scope and too biological in orientation. Though it failed in its main objective to create an institute, the committee was a formidable instrument of intellectual stimulation and socialization for its members. It provided them with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with each other’s scientific backgrounds, practices and jargons, realize the significance of academic cultural differences and learn ways to accommodate them.

“DOCUMENTING HUMAN NATURE: E. RICHARD SORENSON AND THE NATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL FILM CENTER, 1965–1980,” by ADRIANNA LINK. The abstract reads,

This article analyzes the development of the National Anthropological Film Center as an outgrowth of the Smithsonian’s efforts to promote a multidisciplinary program in “urgent anthropology” during the 1960s and 1970s. It considers how film came to be seen as an ideal tool for the documentation and preservation of a wide range of human data applicable to both the behavioral and life sciences. In doing so, it argues that the intellectual and institutional climate facilitated by the Smithsonian’s museum structure during this period contributed to the Center’s initial establishment as well its eventual decline. Additionally, this piece speaks to the continued relevance of ethnographic film archives for future scientific investigations within and beyond the human sciences.

“ON THE PRAGMATICS OF SOCIAL THEORY: THE CASE OF ELIAS’S “ON THE PROCESS OF CIVILIZATION”,” by FILIPE CARREIRA DA SILVA and MARTA BUCHOLC. The abstract reads,

This paper proposes a new approach to the study of sociological classics. This approach is pragmatic in character. It draws upon the social pragmatism of G. H. Mead and the sociology of texts of D. F. McKenzie. Our object of study is Norbert Elias’s On the Process of Civilization. The pragmatic genealogy of this book reveals the importance of taking materiality seriously. By documenting the successive entanglements between human agency and nonhuman factors, we discuss the origins of the book in the 1930s, how it was forgotten for 30 years, and how in the mid-1970s it became a sociological classic. We explain canonization as a matter of fusion between book’s material form and its content, in the context of the paperback revolution of the 1960s, the events of May 1968, and the demise of Parsons’ structural functionalism, and how this provided Elias with an opportunity to advance his model of sociology.

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New JHBS: Psychiatry & Religion, Magnétisme, & More

The Fall 2015 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore psychiatry and religion in the mid-twentieth century, continuities from magnétisme in late-nineteenth century discourse on hypnotism, and more. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“THE POLITICS OF PSYCHIATRY AND THE VICISSITUDES OF FAITH CIRCA 1950: KARL STERN’S PSYCHIATRIC NOVEL,” by Daniel Burston. The abstract reads,

Karl Stern, MD (1906–1975) was the author of The Pillar of Fire (1951) and three nonfiction books on psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and religion. His novel, Through Dooms of Love (1960), written with the assistance of his friend and admirer Graham Greene, covers a number of topics that were to psychiatric theory, treatment, and research at mid-century, and reflects several features of his own personal and professional vicissitudes.

“IMPERCEPTIBLE SIGNS: REMNANTS OF MAGNÉTISME IN SCIENTIFIC DISCOURSES ON HYPNOTISM IN LATE NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE,” by KIM M. HAJEK. The abstract reads,

In 1880s France, hypnotism enjoyed unique medico-scientific legitimacy. This was in striking contrast to preceding decades when its precursor, magnétisme animal, was rejected by the medical/academic establishment as a disreputable, supernaturally tinged practice. Did the legitimation of hypnotism result from researchers repudiating any reference to the wondrous? Or did strands of magnetic thinking persist? This article interrogates the relations among hypnotism, magnétisme, and the domain of the wondrous through close analysis of scientific texts on hypnotism. In question is the notion that somnambulist subjects possessed hyperacute senses, enabling them to perceive usually imperceptible signs, and thus inadvertently to denature researchers’ experiments (a phenomenon known as unconscious suggestion). The article explores researchers’ uncritical and unanimous acceptance of these ideas, arguing that they originate in a holdover from magnétisme. This complicates our understanding of the continuities and discontinuities between science and a precursor “pseudo-science,” and, more narrowly, of the notorious Salpêtrière-Nancy “battle” over hypnotism.

“KNOWLEDGE ECOLOGIES, “SUPPLE” OBJECTS, AND DIFFERENT PRIORITIES ACROSS WOMEN’S AND GENDER STUDIES PROGRAMS AND DEPARTMENTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1970–2010,” by Christine Virginia Wood. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Psychiatry & Religion, Magnétisme, & More

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JHBS Special Issue: “The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age”

The winter 2015 issue of Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is a special issue dedicated to “The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age.” Guest edited by Philippe Fontaine (left), the articles in this issue explore facets of interdisciplinarity in the social sciences post-1945. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction: The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age,” by Philippe Fontaine. The abstract reads,

As studies of the history of social science since 1945 have multiplied over the past decade and a half, it has not been unusual for commentators to present cross-disciplinary ventures as a byproduct of the disciplinary system and to contrast the stability of disciplines with the highs and lows of interdisciplinary relationships. In contrast, this special issue takes the view that cross-disciplinary ventures should be considered not so much as efforts to loosen up the disciplinary yoke, but as an alternative form of production and dissemination of social scientific knowledge. Paradoxically, the relationship between cross-disciplinary ventures and the disciplinary system appears as one of complementarity and not of dependence. The essays in the special issue provide examples of ways to reconsider what can be called the interdisciplinary chaos.

“Mnemonic Multiples: The Case of the Columbia Panel Studies,” by Jefferson D. Pooley. The abstract reads, Continue reading JHBS Special Issue: “The Social Sciences in a Cross-Disciplinary Age”

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New JHBS: Mine Detection Dogs, Memory Improvement, Robert Owen, & the Street Corner Society

The winter 2014 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles describing the development of mine detector dogs during World War Two, late-nineteenth century advice on improving natural memory, parallels between debates over Robert Owen’s role in the history of sociology and contemporary sociology, and the roots of sociologist William Foote Whyte’s Street Corner Society. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“In Dogs We Trust? Intersubjectivity, Response-Able Relations, and the Making of Mine Detector Dogs,” by Robert G. W. Kirk. The abstract reads,

The utility of the dog as a mine detector has divided the mine clearance community since dogs were first used for this purpose during the Second World War. This paper adopts a historical perspective to investigate how, why, and to what consequence, the use of minedogs remains contested despite decades of research into their abilities. It explores the changing factors that have made it possible to think that dogs could, or could not, serve as reliable detectors of landmines over time. Beginning with an analysis of the wartime context that shaped the creation of minedogs, the paper then examines two contemporaneous investigations undertaken in the 1950s. The first, a British investigation pursued by the anatomist Solly Zuckerman, concluded that dogs could never be the mine hunter’s best friend. The second, an American study led by the parapsychologist J. B. Rhine, suggested dogs were potentially useful for mine clearance. Drawing on literature from science studies and the emerging subdiscipline of “animal studies,” it is argued that cross-species intersubjectivity played a significant role in determining these different positions. The conceptual landscapes of Zuckerman and Rhine’s disciplinary backgrounds are shown to have produced distinct approaches to managing cross-species relations, thus explaining how diverse opinions on minedog can coexist. In conclusion, it is shown that the way one structures relationships between humans and animals has profound impact on the knowledge and labor subsequently produced, a process that cannot be separated from ethical consequence.

“Advice for Improving Memory: Exercising, Strengthening, and Cultivating Natural Memory, 1860–1910,” by Alan F. Collins. The abstract reads,

The idea that human memory can be improved appears to be as ancient as the concept of memory itself. Continue reading New JHBS: Mine Detection Dogs, Memory Improvement, Robert Owen, & the Street Corner Society

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New JHBS: Sensory Deprivation, USDA Research, and More

The autumn 2013 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are three all new articles. The history of John Zubek’s (left) sensory deprivation research is explored in an article by Mical Raz, while Andrew Jewett discusses the social science involvement in United States Department of Agriculture research in the 1930s. A further article details the relationship between British sociology and colonialism in the mid-twentieth century. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Alone Again: John Zubek and the Troubled History of Sensory Deprivation Research,” by Mical Raz. The abstract reads,

In the 1950s, sensory deprivation research emerged as an influential new field for behavioral science researchers, supported by the intelligence community. Within a few years, deprivation research had become ubiquitous; images of sensory deprivation were invoked to explain a wide range of phenomena, from religious revelations to the very structure of psychoanalysis. Yet within a decade and a half, this field of research became implicated in cases of torture and abuse. This article examines the history of University of Manitoba psychologist John Zubek, who remained one of the final researchers still conducting sensory deprivation research in the 1970s. It raises questions on how might it be possible to successfully and cautiously perform controversial research.

“The Social Sciences, Philosophy, and the Cultural Turn in the 1930s USDA,” by Andrew Jewett. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Sensory Deprivation, USDA Research, and More

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The April 2013 issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in these issue are seven all new articles on topics that include the history of psychiatric ideas about self-harm, madness and the brain, and early British and American sociology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Religion, polygenism and the early science of human origins,” by Terence D. Keel. The abstract reads,

American polygenism was a provocative scientific movement whose controversial claim that humankind did not share a common ancestor caused a firestorm among naturalists and the lay public beginning in the 1830s. This article gives specific attention to the largely overlooked religious ideas marshaled by American polygenists in their effort to construct race as a unit of analysis. I focus specifically on the thought of the American polygenist and renowned surgeon Dr Josiah Clark Nott (1804–73) of Mobile, Alabama. Scholars have claimed that in his effort to establish a properly modern scientific view of race Nott was one of the first American naturalists to publicly denounce the notion of common human descent (monogenesis) as proclaimed in the Bible. I argue that despite his rejection of monogenesis, Nott’s racial theory remained squarely within the tradition of Christian ideas about the natural world. American polygenism provides an example of how scientific and religious ideas worked together in the minds of American antebellum thinkers in the development of novel theories about race and human origins.

“Badness, madness and the brain – the late 19th-century controversy on immoral persons and their malfunctioning brains,” by Felix Schirmann. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

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New JHBS! Sociology, Stereotypes, & Emotions

The autumn 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the role of emotions in animal experimentation, the career and interests of Japanese sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani, the development of sociology during the Progressive Era in the United States, and the importance of Walter Lippmann’s (left) theory of stereotypes. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Animal Tales: Observations of the Emotions in American Experimental Psychology, 1890-1940,” by Anne C. Rose.  The abstract reads,

In nineteenth-century science, the emotions played a crucial role in explaining the social behavior of animals and human
beings. Beginning in the 1890s, however, the first American psychologists, resolutely parsimonious in method, dismissed affective experience as intellectually imprecise. Yet in practice, feelings continued to influence at least one research setting: animal experiments. Laboratory reports, although focused on learning, became a repository of informal observations about the animals’ temperaments and moods. When American psychologists began to reexamine the emotions between the world wars, they drew on this empirical legacy in animal studies. They also devised a conceptual approach to emotion consistent with their expectation of experimental precision.

“Japanese American Wartime Experience, Tamotsu Shibutani and Methodological Innovation, 1942-1978,” by Karen M. Inouye. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS! Sociology, Stereotypes, & Emotions

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Merton, Mesmerists, and More in JHBS 2010

The first issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences for 2010 has just been released online. The winter 2010 issue of JHBS includes four all new articles which explore topics as diverse as mesmerism, race relations, and the golden section, as well as eight book reviews.

In “Merton as Harvard Sociologist: Engagment, Thematic Continuities, and Institutional Linkages” Lawrence Nichols, Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University, examines the importance of the years sociologist Robert Merton (pictured at right) spent at Harvard University. Early intersections of mesmerism and Asian mind-body practices are explored in “The Mesmerists Inquire about “Oriental Mind Powers”: West Meets East in the Search for the Universal Trance,” by David Schmit, of the Department of Psychology at St. Catherine’s University, while in “The Individual and “The General Situation”: The Tension Barometer and the Race Problem at the University of Chicago, 1947-1954″ Leah Gordon, of the School of Education at Stanford University, investigates the triumph of individualistic conceptions of the cause of racial oppression in the post-war United States. In the final article, John Benjafield, Professor Emeritus at Brock University, explores the use of the concept of the golden section in early American psychology. Continue reading Merton, Mesmerists, and More in JHBS 2010

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Twin Research, Biography as Method, and More

The History of the Human Sciences has just released its December issue online. Featured in the issue are articles on twin research, sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (pictured left) and biography as historical method, photography and biological vision, and the role of the environment in early American sociology.

In “Twin research, revisionism and metahistory,” Thomas Teo and Laura C. Ball, both of York University, explore the carefully managed presentation of the history of twin research. As is stated early on, the “article does not provide a history but is interested in the historiography, or, better, the historical accounts and reconstructions, of twin research, written by insiders” (p. 3). Teo and Ball look at how insiders selected pioneers in the field and what historical evidence has been privileged in constructing a history of twin research. The abstract to this article reads:

We understand metahistory as an approach that studies how histories within a particular discipline have been written and focus on insider scientists’ reconstructions of twin research. Using the concept of ethical-political affordances we suggest that such histories are based on a management of resources that prove to be beneficial for representing one’s own research traditions in a positive light. Instead of discussing information on the context and intellectual life of pioneers of the twin method, which include high-caliber eugenicists and Nazi ideologues, and on how the twin method has been used and abused, insider scientists’ accounts present twin research as neutral, objective and void of any kind of political connotations. Continue reading Twin Research, Biography as Method, and More

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of the History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in the issue are articles on Freud, French sociology, and situational realism in Australian psychology. The article titles and abstracts are listed below.

Freud’s dreams of reason: the Kantian structure of psychoanalysis, by Alfred I Tauber of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. The abstract reads:

Freud (and later commentators) have failed to explain how the origins of psychoanalytical theory began with a positivist investment without recognizing a dual epistemological commitment: simply, Freud engaged positivism because he believed it generally equated with empiricism, which he valued, and he rejected ‘philosophy’, and, more specifically, Kantianism, because of the associated transcendental qualities of its epistemology. Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

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