The rise of empirical social research : some aspects of the development of the social sciences at the University of Chicago 1915-1930.
The development of the social sciences at the University of
Chicago in the period between 1915 and 1930 played a
significant part in the rise of empirical social research.
This thesis examines these developments with particular
reference to sociology and, to a lesser extent, political
science, by considering the methods of social research
employed at this period and the ways in which social science
research was institutionalised in the university.
The pre-eminent place of the Department of Sociology
at the University of Chicago in the history of early American
sociology is established briefly. The research methods of
W.I. Thomas and F. Znaniecki's classic work The Polish Peasant
in Europe and America are then,discussed. There follows a
detailed examination of the methods of empirical inquiry used
in the field studies supervised by R.E. Park and E.W.Burgess,
and carried out mainly by graduate students in the
Department of Sociology.
The extent of interest in quantitative methods at this
period is then considered. The influence of J.A. Field,
E.W. Burgess, W.F. Ogburn and S.A. Stouffer is documented,
and it is shown how much quantitative work was done by
Chicago sociologists. cInterest in such methods was fostered
by parallel developments in political science (under the
guidance of C.E. Merriam), in psychology (notably by L.L.
Thurstone) and in economics (by H. Schultz).
The organisation and institutionalisation of social
science research in the (University of Chicago) Local
Community Research Committee, established in 192), is then
documented for the period 192)-30. The creation of this
interdisciplinary and interdepartmental body, which received
support from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial and
other sources, marked a significant change in the place of
empirical social research in the American university in the