Tag Archives: sociology

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

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

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

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

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