Development of Sociology in USA

Development of Sociology in USA is Most Favourite question for UPSC Mains .

Sociology emerged in the early nineteenth century in response to the challenges of modernity, social upheaval in Europe as a result of the Industrial Revolution, political revolutions in America (American Revolution) and France (French Revolution) and Contribution of Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and others.

Thus Sociology made its way from Europe to the United States by the turn of the 20th century. Early American sociologists attempted to understand and solve the problems of their day, including crime, racial problems, and economic woes etc (More focus was on Applied Sociology).


1. Harriet Martineau studied social life in both England and the United States. She is known for her translations of August Comte’s ideas into English.

2. W. E. B. Du Bois was the first African American to get a doctorate on black-white relations (racial discrimination) in the USA. He founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for research on applied sociology (an attempt to solve social problems). 

3. Jane Addams – founded Hull-House, a settlement house to bridge the gap between the powerful and powerless. She is the only sociologist to have won the Nobel Prize for Peace- 1931. 

4. Robert Park and Ernest Burgess studied many urban problems and offered suggestions on how to alleviate them. By the 1940s, as sociologists became more concerned with establishing sociology as an academic discipline, the emphasis shifted from social reform to social theory.

5. Talcott Parsons developed abstract models of society to show how the parts of society harmoniously work together. Countering this development was C. Wright Mills, who urged sociologists to get back to social reform. He saw the emergence of the power elite as an imminent threat to freedom. The debate over what should be the proper goals of sociological analysis—analyzing society vs. reforming society—continues today.

6. RK Merton (Reference Group, Theory of Deviance etc), GH Mead (Symbolic Interactionism) and others 

7. American Sociological Association (ASA) is promoting public sociology– politicians and policy makers, to apply the sociological understanding of how society works as they develop social policy.


Thus Sociology originated in Europe and flourished in USA.

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