Schwendinger and Schwendinger (1971, 1974) examined the thinking of early professors of sociology in the USA, and criticised them for their supine attitude to capitalism and for their sexism. Bernard and Bernard (1943) and Coser (1978) provide accounts of the pioneers of sociology in America. Many of the men who established the discipline: Albion Small, George Vincent, William Sumner, Lester Ward, and Edward Ross, for example, are unknown in Britain and do not figure in current American sociology. Thorstein Veblen (1857-1919) is still read, as are Charles Horton Cooley, and the Chicago giants, Mead, Thomas and Park. However, apart from the Schwendinger and Schwendinger revisionist critique, the former group here not been subjected to contemporary feminist re-appraisals. Veblen has not become redefined by feminism as a legendary sexist or misogynist: perhaps he is due for a feminist analysis. The only historically significant American founding fathers still taught, analysed and reanalysed are those associated with symbolic interactionism and Chicago, whose work has already figured at some length in this book.
In the USA, a specifically American sociology grew up in Chicago from 1892 onwards, which was discussed in detail in Chapter 5. This American sociology was the first to include women as lecturers, researchers, members of learned societies, and referees of journal articles. Symbolic interactionism, with its intellectual roots in G. H. Mead and W. I. Thomas, is the theoretical school which developed in Chicago, as one strand of Chicago sociology. The women of the Chicago School were not symbolic interactionists, and had little interest in theory at all. So although American sociology produced the first women sociologists, and the first feminist sociologists, there was no feminist symbolic inter – actionism. Deegan (1988) contrasts W. I. Thomas, a supporter of women’s suffrage, with male contemporaries who opposed the goals of First Wave feminists, and has edited a collection on women and inter – actionism (Deegan and Hill, 1987). This collection has one historic paper, by Jessie Taft (1987) extracted from her 1913 thesis. She was a student of Mead and Thomas. Even Deegan has not claimed that inter – actionism had women theorists in the pre-1918 years.