This excursion into the histories of American sociology, as recalled by male scholars in autobiographical narratives, reveals the absence of women. The data are published autobiographical accounts of American sociology in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, by men, aimed at fel­low sociologists. There are some parallel volumes of autobiography and oral history about American women sociologists, which are dis­cussed in the next chapter. The 22 narratives have been taken from the following sources:

1 The autobiographical essays by male authors published in the Annual Review of Sociology from 1986 to 1996.

2 The autobiographies by men in Riley’s (1988) edited collection Sociological Lives.

3 The autobiographies by men in Berger’s (1990a) edited collection Authors of Their Own Lives.

Between 1986 and 1998 the Annual Review of Sociology (ARS) carried a brief personal statement by a distinguished elder statesperson dealing with some aspect of his or her career and sub-specialism. The Riley (1988) volume contains autobiographical essays by eight leading soci­ologists, of whom four are men: Lewis Coser, William Julius Wilson, Hubert Blalock, and William Sewell. The Berger (1990a) volume con­tains intellectual autobiographies by 20 sociologists. Five of the authors are women (Barbara Rosenblum, Alice Rossi, Jessie Bernard, Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Pepper Schwartz). The chapters by 14 of the 15 male authors were analysed. These men are Wrong, Coleman, Gusfield, MacCannell, Greeley, Gans, Gary T. Marx, Cressey, Gagnon, Glazer, Bendix, Guenther Roth, Pierre van den Berghe and Berger himself. The Riesman chapter was not analysed because it duplicated that in the ARS. The Coser paper in Riley (1988) was not included because it duplicated his piece in the Annual Review, already analysed, while the Sewell chapter was included because it was autobiographical, unlike his 1989 piece in the Annual Review. The final list of autobiographical pieces analysed is shown in Table 1 of Appendix 2.

Подпись: 120Of course these autobiographical essays cannot be read as simple, fac­tual accounts. Social science readers of such texts must be as sceptical about them as we should be wary of the enthusiasm for the ‘narra­tive’ gathered as data from laypeople, however fashionable that col­lection currently is. As Atkinson and Silverman point out:

The collection and celebration of personal narratives have become a major preoccupation for many contemporary sociologists and others in the social and cultural disciplines. While it is by no means univer­sal, there is a widespread assumption that such data provide uniquely privileged means of access to the biographically grounded experiences and meaning of social actors. Contemporary sociologists and anthro­pologists who espouse qualitative research methods often put special faith in the interview as the prime means of data collection. For sur­vey researchers, the interview can be a reliable research instrument giving valid data on facts and attitudes. For the qualitatively-minded researcher, the open-ended interview offers the opportunity for an authentic gaze into the soul of another, or even for a politically-cor – rect dialogue where researcher and researched offer mutual under­standing and support. The rhetoric of interviewing ‘in-depth’ repeatedly hints at such a collection of assumptions. Here we see a stubbornly persistent Romantic impulse in contemporary sociology: the elevation of the experiential as the authentic. In promoting a particular view of narratives of personal experience, researchers too often recapitulate, in an uncritical fashion, features of contemporary interview society. In this society, the interview becomes a personal confessional and the biographical work of the interviewer is concealed. (1997)

A similar point was made by Gubrium and Holstein (1995), and is endorsed by Bauman (2000).

Подпись: 121The autobiographical narratives published in official books are pro­duced by senior figures in the discipline, it is an honour to be asked for one, and they are carefully crafted social products. Nothing in such autobiographical pieces can be taken as ‘fact’. One might expect the leading men of American sociology to be self-conscious about the rhetorical work of autobiography and to make explicit the nature of the genre. They do not. Of the 22 narratives analysed, Berger’s is the only one which warns the reader that it is a crafted story. All the oth­ers read as if they had been written in the 1930s or 1950s, not in the 1980s or 1990s. Berger points out that: ‘The dominant norms of soci­ological practice discourage autobiographical thinking. In sociology, autobiography is usually regarded as risky, embarrassing and tasteless’ (1990b: 152). He reminds his readers that they must ‘take nothing of what I have said at face value’ (ibid.: 163) and points out that while he has used the data of his life ‘to do self-congratulatory ideological work’ those same data can be used by others, who hold other sociological views ‘to cut me up’ (ibid.: 164). Berger (1990a: xv) mentions the aca­demic debates on different ‘views about the autonomy of the text’. He then emphasises that sociology exercises its hegemony by ‘the rhetoric of impersonality’ which is violated by the autobiographical narra – tive/voice.

To analyse the silverback narratives, I took the following steps. The chapters were scrutinised looking for four dimensions of gender consciousness.

1 I counted the numbers of men and women mentioned as friends, mentors, colleagues, fellow students, intellectual influences, and scholarly opponents. For example, in the Goffman interview, he says ‘My teachers were Park, Burgess and Lewis Wirth’, ‘Howie Becker is very important’, ‘I can remember arguing with Harold Garfinkel’, ‘He’s an interesting guy, Tom Shibutani’. These four sentences would produce six codings for men.

2 I looked to see whether or not the men made any comment on the gender of their significant others.

3 I checked to see whether or not the men analysed the gendered nature of their intellectual and theoretical environment.

4 I coded whether men comment on the rise of feminism as a theory, gender as a topic, or women’s visibility in the discipline today com­pared to their absence during their apprenticeship eras.

The point here is not the ‘accuracy’ of the memory, but the ways in which male sociologists have chosen to represent their lives as lived
in an all-male, or predominantly male, world. They are the authors of these accounts, and, as experienced sociological writers, have chosen the memories they present to the reader. Recognising that autobi­ographies are subjective and crafted, the aim of analysing the autobi­ographical essays was to discover how far leading male sociologists have chosen to present their discipline and their social world as a male-only one, when writing for an audience in the 1980s and 1990s. Berger (1990a: xxviii) points out that the essays in his volume have ‘class and ethnicity’ as ‘salient themes’. He does not mention gender as a theme, salient or otherwise.

Подпись: 122The first measure was the gross totals of mentions of men and women, simply counted as in the Goffman interview. The first of the codings is the most extensive because the autobiographical reflections tend to include lists of friends, mentors, and influential authors. The gross totals of mentions of men and women are shown in Table 7.1 with the Goffman interview added for comparison. The table lists together a mention of Weber and of a man friend in graduate school as ‘two males’, while ‘I met my wife’ is coded as a mention of women. William H. Sewell (1988: 122), for example, describes his move to Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College as ‘very favourable to my professional development’, not least because Otis Dudley Duncan ‘had also brought other young men, who were bright and able’ there. That produces one count of a male mentioned.

Table 7.1 shows wide variations in the total numbers of people discussed from Bendix’s eight and Hawley’s 12 names to MacCannell’s 89. However, not one man mentions more women than men, indeed, four men (Wilson, Blalock, Gagnon and Berger) list no women at all. There are a further three men (Hawley, Wrong and Bendix) who only mention one woman. Only Riesman and MacCannell list ten or more women. In most accounts ‘remembered men’ outnumber ‘remembered women’ by at least four to one. These 23 men remember having lived, or chose to present themselves as hav­ing lived, in largely male worlds.

The autobiographical narratives were also coded for the presence or absence of comments on the maleness of their intellectual envi­ronments then, or the growth of women’s participation in the disci­pline in the past 25 years. Again, both themes were conspicuous by their absence. Not one single man mentioned that his formative envi­ronment was a male one, or that he experienced it as all male, or that he remembered it as all male. Not one single man mentioned that male undergraduates, or graduates, or young faculties in the 1990s would have a different experience because they have women teach­ers, and might even experience their discipline as a co-educational or feminised one.

Scholar

Men

Women

Bendix

7

1

Berger

18

0

Blalock

13

0

Blau

27

3

Coleman

50

5

Coser

33

7

Cressey

16

6

Gagnon

35

0

Gans

20

5

Glazer

43

4

Goffman (interview)

31

2

Greeley

29

2

Gusfield

38

5

Hawley

11

1

Homans

53

2

Lipset

35

4

MacCannell

70

19

Marx

24

6

Merton

45

2

Riesman

47

10

Roth

29

3

Sewell

65

7 123

Van den Berghe

49

8

Wilson

19

0

Wrong

14

1

Table 7.1: Mentions of men and women by men sociologists

A simple count of the names mentioned is an extremely crude way to discover the place of gender in the development of American sociol­ogy. The autobiographies were therefore scrutinised for mentions of the rise of feminist perspectives in sociology, and, for contrast, the intellec­tual importance of Marxism in sociology. The results of this compari­son are shown in Table 7.2. Just as comments on the male-only nature of significant figures and on their social, intellectual or theoretical worlds were absent when names were mentioned, comments on the rise of feminism in sociology, are conspicuous by their absence as Table 7.2 shows.

For the generation who lived through the Second World War, the Korean War, the McCarthy witch-hunts, the Vietnam War, the fall of Stalin and the rise of neo-Marxist theorists like Althusser, it is perhaps surprising that only 12 of the 23 men mentioned Marxism. However, Marxism is much more commonly mentioned than feminism. The same men lived through the anti-feminist era after the Second World War, and the dramatic rise of contemporary feminism since the late 1960s,

yet to a man they have chosen not to mention it. Gusfield (1990) describes his research on First Wave, nineteenth-century feminism; the only man to mention the concept at all. These men have chosen not to discuss a seismic change in their intellectual landscape.

Scholar

Marxism

Feminism

Bendix

No

No

Berger

Yes

No

Berghe

Yes

No

Blalock

No

No

Blau

No

No

Coleman

No

No

Coser

Yes

No

Cressey

No

No

Gagnon

No

No

Gans

No

No

Glazer

Yes

No

Goffman

No

No

Greeley

No

No

Gusfield

Yes

19th century, not current

Hawley

No

No

124 Homans

Yes

No

Lipset

Yes

No

MacCannell

Yes

No

Marx

No

No

Merton

Yes

No

Riesman

Yes

No

Roth

Yes

No

Sewell

No

No

Wilson

No

No

Wrong

Yes

No

Table 7.2: Intellectual themes: Marxism and feminism

These distinguished sociologists were offered editorial freedom to reflect on their careers and discipline, and the opportunity to confess to past sins of omission and commission, yet they have chosen to ignore women, gender and feminism. They have published unreflexive, unre­constructed accounts of experiencing an all-male, or overwhelmingly male socialisation and early career, of training in an all-male intellectu­al climate. They make no comments on feminism or the rise of women as a force in American sociology. Dean MacCannell (1990: 177) is the only man who specifically describes deriving any intellectual benefits from a woman’s scholarship. He praises his second wife’s ‘evident men­tal abilities’ and explicitly recounts intellectual work done with her
over a 20-year period. He also mentions admiring his first wife’s schol­arship and his second mother-in-law’s intellectual companionship. He is the youngest man in the three collections. Maybe the times are changing, either in the experiences, the recollections of them, or the reflections that go into producing an autobiographical text.

Подпись: 125There are four aspects of these accounts that I want to stress: (1) the men very rarely mention any women who studied alongside them at undergraduate, postgraduate levels, or worked with them as colleagues on projects or taught with them; (2) the men make no comment on their own biographical memories being about all-male worlds: that is, they do not seize the opportunity to reflect that they remembered ‘men – only’ worlds; (3) the men do not analyse the extent to which either their discipline or their social worlds were actually male-dominated in the past as opposed to being remembered as all-male: they do not seize the opportunity to display themselves in the present as conscious of the gender balance in the various departments where they trained and later taught; and (4) the men do not comment on the rise of feminism as a theory, gender as a topic, and women’s visibility in the discipline, as changes since their early years. That is, they do not seize the opportu­nity to display themselves as conscious of the changes in sociology. It is perhaps particularly notewothy that they do not even bemoan the pol­lution of their precious discipline by feminism, the invasion of women into the locker room, the coming of girls into the treehouse, or the com­plications of dual careers. The world of these silverbacks seems not to have changed since the 1950s, when a study of American scholars was conducted which included questions about the leading figures in vari­ous disciplines. When men were asked to name significant scholars in their field they only named men. Jessie Bernard (1964: 157) called this the ‘stag’ effect.

Dorothy Smith (1999: 199-203) presents an analysis of the current consequences of ‘the residue sedimented by an exclusively masculine history’ (ibid.: 200). Because universities were all-male for centuries, women are still ‘the other’. This is, of course, most noticeable in the sci­ences and engineering where women are still numerically rare. Noble (1992) emphasises how the celibate, all-male, monastic origins of west­ern science still determine much of the occupational culture, or habitus, of science in Britain and the USA today. Smith widens this to all disci­plines when she argues: ‘Men took the maleness of their university and discursive colleagues for granted’ (1999: 200). As Smith (ibid.: 200) commented ‘their everyday working lives were lived in a world where women were never colleagues’, and ‘In the past of the university, women, if present at all in an academic role… were not members of the university on the same footing with men: their work did not count’ (ibid.: 201).

To recapitulate my argument. I am not surprised or shocked that these silverbacks say they lived in an all-male world in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. I am angry that they do not choose to com­ment on this, or (pretend to) regret the exclusion of able women then or (pretend to) rejoice in the more ‘natural’ or ‘egalitarian’ intellectual climate in which their successors live. A parallel analysis of a different body of silverback narratives was conducted by Yair (2001) and his stu­dents. They focus upon the published texts of the ASA Presidential Addresses from 1906 to 1998. Five women were presidents in that stretch (Hallinan, Huber, Komarovsky, Riley, Rossi). Yair’s analysis found that race and ethnicity are a recurrent theme, while religion, pol­itics and social class are relatively rarely mentioned. Only two presi­dential addresses dealt with gender: and they were given by Alice Rossi in 1984 and Joan Huber in 1990.

Taken together, these analyses show a total lack of impact on the malestream by feminist sociology whether liberal, Marxist or radical. That these silverbacks are silent on their all-male worlds is clear evi­dence that American sociological feminism has had little or no effect on the malestream of American sociology.