THE EXPULSION AND THE EXCLUSION
There are two versions of the events in Chicago after 1920. In the dominant, male, version of the story, three men of great perspicacity – Faris, Park, and Burgess – inherited the department, purified it, and created a recognisably modern sociology there. In other words, they separated academic sociology as an objective, scientific discipline from social administration, social policy, social work, home economics, and from political activism of all kinds. Scholars were to focus on research, not on helping tenants campaign against slum landlords or helping workers organise unions. Disciplines which trained people to work among the poor were to be separated from their scientific discipline of sociology. This version, which is a ‘Whig’ account of the history, can be
found in Faris (1967), Matthews (1977), Rock (1979), Kurtz (1984), Bulmer (1984) and Harvey (1987).
This purification of discipline and department involved clearing out all the women lecturers, and removing their publications from the canon. Rossiter (1982) chronicles similar processes in the learned societies of many American sciences and social sciences. In Chicago there were no women tenured or even tenure-tracked in sociology from 1940 to 1960. For example, Evelyn Kitagawa joined the staff in 1951, did not get a professorship till 1975, and eventually became its first woman chair (Deegan, 1995). In the years between 1945 and 1975 one badge of excellence for a sociology department in the USA was to be all male: top departments in top universities did not give tenure to women. Rossiter argues that purging women from universities and learned societies was one of the ways that disciplines professionalised themselves in the nineteenth century.
Deegan (1988) has offered a feminist minority account of the period after 1920. She argued that Park was unable to work with women, and therefore drove them out of sociology. Subsequently he wrote up the history of the era, expunging all the women’s names, and their publications, from its history. Organisationally, new departments were created, such as the Institute for Juvenile Research, Home Economics, School of Social Service Administration, and so on. At the time, the women thought these were signs of progress, because they gained autonomy and self-determination. Talbot (1936), for example, saw the separation of Home Economics in this light. The women lecturers felt they could train women for good careers in these new fields, and that their graduates would go out and improve the world.
This is an ideological division between men in sociology who wanted their discipline to be university-based, male, detached from political campaigns, from social and community action, and theoretical; and women who wanted to collect data in the city to apply their results to the solution of pressing social problems. Deegan argues that in the 1892-1920 era Mead, Dewey, Thomas and Small shared the social and political goals of the women, especially suffrage, and were happy with a broader, messier sociology that combined university theory with reform campaigns in the city. When these men were gone, their successors were determined to break the link.
There was no real difference of opinion between Addams, Talbot and the other women and the men about the proper roles of males and females in social science. Both thought women were ‘better’ at gathering data and analysing them, while men were ‘better’ at abstract thought in the ivory tower. Where the two sexes differed, Deegan argues, was in the value they placed on the two activities. Each sex thought that what they did was the more valuable.
As the history of social science developed in the USA after 1920, the male view won. Sociology developed as an abstract, ivory tower subject, quite separate from the messy real-world realities of political campaigns, unions, rent strikes, social administration, domestic hygiene and charitable activity. The work of Addams, the Abbott sisters and Talbot was redefined as social work or home economics, and excised from the malestream histories of sociology at Chicago.
As long as Albion Small was Chair of the Sociology Department there seem to have been friendly relationships between sociology and the women in the new sub-departments. Later in the 1920s and 1930s the relationships became extremely hostile. The male historians do not offer any explanation for the hostility, if indeed they even mention the women or the hostility. Deegan blames Park for the rift, arguing that he was obsessively, fanatically hostile to Addams, Breckinridge and Talbot. He had come to Chicago from elsewhere, was kept in a junior role for many years, but eventually became Chair and the custodian of the official history of the Chicago School. Park was involved with the black activist Booker T. Washington, and the Chicago Commission of Race Relations after a race riot in 1919, but he seems to have loathed feminism and feminists. He was also opposed to trade unions and welfare rights work, and committed to purging American sociology of ‘political’ taints. His written accounts of Mead and Thomas focused entirely on their academic work, and ignored their political activism. Harvey (1987: 31) quotes Park saying that Chicago had suffered more from ‘lady reformers’ than it had from organised crime and gangsters; and that ‘reformers and do-gooders’ were ‘lower than dirt’. As reformers and do-gooders were centred in Hull-House, and were mostly women, this was de facto an anti-woman statement. Park’s memory is treasured by many graduates and historians of Chicago sociology who do not mention his sexist attitudes and hostility to Jane Addams and the other women. Abbott (1999: 28-9) calls Park ‘the enigma and talisman of the department’s history’. He published relatively little, and his family life was problematic. Abbott states firmly that ‘there have been suppressions about Park’.
Of course, a history of sexism and even misogynist behaviour does not usually prevent men from being eulogised, whereas racism, especially anti-Semitism, does. Deegan (1988: 154-5) reports that American historians of sociology avoid Park’s quarrels with Abbott and Breckinridge strenuously. Park’s biographer was, Deegan says, told to omit it from her biography by senior figures in the discipline. Winifred Raushenbush’s biography of Park, published in 1979, is a positive one, and she did not respond publicly to this claim by Deegan. Deegan also states that she herself was threatened that if she discussed Park’s treatment of women she would be blackballed from American
sociology. The informants who told her about the feud asked to remain anonymous.
There is no reason for British chroniclers of Chicago sociology to fear being blackballed, but the four male historians, Rock (1979), Bulmer (1984), Harvey (1987) and Smith (1988), all seem to have accepted the male orthodoxy. Smith, Harvey and Rock do not mention Hull-House Maps and Papers at all, and Bulmer gives it one mention but no bibliographic details are provided. In general, male historians of Chicago treat the war between Addams and Park as normal, only to be expected when old, feminist virgins have to be dealt with, especially if they work in low-status areas like home economics or social work.
Here, then, are two competing origin myths. In the dominant malestream story, after 1920, brave men purify the discipline by separating sociology from social reform, political activism and feminism. In the minority feminist version coined by Deegan, a group of male chauvinists strip out all the policy-related sociology and its exponents, and then excise them from the history of the department.
Elsewhere (Delamont, 1992a, 1996a) I have used the theories of Mary Douglas (1966, 1970, 1982) to explore the competing belief systems of the men in the department and the women focused on Hull – House. Deegan has no explanation for the post-1920 male revulsion against women in Chicago except for Park’s dislike of women, especially older, academic spinster feminists, and of social reformers. Rossiter’s model (1982) is more powerful as an explanation. After 1920 there was a revulsion against the celibate, separatist feminism of the First Wave, among intellectuals fed by the enthusiasm for Freudianism (Delamont, 1992a; Vicinus, 1985). The next generation of women did not, even if they were feminists, want to live celibate lives in settlement houses with other spinsters.