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Chicago School

Ray Hutchison


The Chicago School of Urban Sociology refers to work of faculty and graduate students at the University of Chicago during the period 1915–35. This small group of scholars (the full-time faculty in the department of sociology never numbered more than 6 persons) developed a new sociological theory and research methodology in a conscious effort to create a science of society using the city of Chicago as a social laboratory. The Chicago School continues to define the contours of urban sociology, most clearly in the contributions of urban ecology and applied research within the urban environment. The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 as a research university modeled after Johns Hopkins University and Clark University. The Chicago School of the period discussed here is represented by three generations of faculty. The first group included Albion Small (founder of the department), W. I. Thomas, Charles R. Henderson, Graham Taylor, and George E. Vincent. The second generation included Small, Thomas, Ernest Burgess, Ellsworth Faris, and Robert Park. It was this group that trained the graduate students responsible for the classic studies of the Chicago School. The third generation included Park, Burgess, Louis Wirth, and William Ogburn. This group of faculty would remain intact until the time Park retired from the university in 1934. While it is common to date the origin of urban sociology ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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