Black and White Sociology: Segregation of the Discipline
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The idea that theories of race, racial segregation and racism have played a central role in the development of sociology and that black and white sociologies have formed because of this condition is not new and has been in circulation among sociologists for some time. While a number of sociologists have examined how race has shaped the discipline, only a few have attempted to examine and define black sociology and white sociology. Despite the initial efforts of some, the two sociologies remain vague, undeveloped concepts, and thus open to skepticism and denunciation. No systematic historical-intellectual investigation of black sociology or white sociology exists and, subsequently, no in-depth comparative analysis of the two exists. Therefore, through a comparative-historical analysis and exercise in the sociology of knowledge, this work seeks to provide a more precise history and theory of black sociology and white sociology. This study argues that black sociology and white sociology represent two distinct intellectual perspectives---sets of ideas---and social practices shaped by past perspectives and practices and social-historical contexts, which are largely racially- defined. More specifically, I will demonstrate that black sociology and white sociology develop out of two approaches of thought and action primarily influenced by race, a black tradition of ideas and practices and a white tradition of thought and practices. To map these two traditions, I begin with a review and analysis of works that have discussed (directly or indirectly) black and white sociology and black and white sociologists. Next, I turn to a more focused analysis on the sociological perspectives and practices of W.E.B. Du Bois and Robert Park, examining the ideas and practices that shape each sociologist's thought and actions. I identify ways that Park incorporates and advances earlier ideas and practices of whites, and, conversely, how Du Bois incorporates and advances earlier perspectives and practices of blacks. Lastly, I point out how Du Bois' ideas and methods, shaped by an earlier black tradition, now informs what is described as black sociology, and how Park's ideas and methods, shaped by an earlier white tradition, now informs what is described as white sociology.
Elias, Sean (2009). Black and White Sociology: Segregation of the Discipline. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from