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Du Bois, W. E. B. (1868–1963)

A historian, sociologist, race man, social theorist,

poet, journalist, political and civil rights leader, in

his time, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was

ignored by white-dominated official sociology in

the United States. Yet, as the segregation of blacks

subsided, Du Bois emerged as one of the most

original academic sociologists of the twentieth

century.


Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts,

in 1868, in the years following the

American Civil War. In this small New England

town, he was accepted in the local schools and

excelled as a pupil. His higher education began

in 1885 at Fisk University in Nashville, where for

the first time he encountered the vicious racism of

the American South; he then studied at Harvard

and in Germany (1892–4) before earning his PhD

at Harvard. His doctoral thesis, The Suppression of

the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America,

1638–1870, became the first of his published scholarly

books in 1896. Du Bois began his academic

double shift Du Bois, W. E. B. (1868–1963)

148

career at Wilberforce University (1894–6) before



accepting a research position at the University of

Pennsylvania. There he did the exhaustive fieldwork

on Philadelphia’s Negro community which led to

The Philadelphia Negro (1899), the first important

urban ethnography in America by an American.

Shortly after, Du Bois published the book that

established his reputation as a major social thinker

and writer, and a fresh voice in American

racial politics, Souls of Black Folk (1903). Souls is

best known for its poetic description of the double

consciousness (or “twoness”) concept that

appeared in its lead essay: “One ever feels his

twoness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two

thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring

ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength

alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” The double-

consciousness idea exerted its influence late in

the twentieth century as a model for postfeminist

social theories of the self as comprising a number

of conflicting identities shaped from a matrix of

domination (for example Patricia Hill Collins,

Black Feminist Thought, 1990). Souls of Black Folk also

introduced the cultural and political theory of

racial uplift as led by a talented tenth of highly

educated black leaders. Du Bois’s emphasis on

cultural training set him at odds with the thenreigning

race-leader in the United States, Booker

T. Washington (1856–1910), founder of the Tuskegee

Institute in Alabama. Washington’s program

for racial uplift was based on the agricultural and

industrial education of poor blacks. From 1895,

when Washington declared his Atlanta Compromise

(that blacks would work with whites economically,

but keep themselves socially separate),

until his death in 1915, Booker T. Washington

was anointed by whites as the spokesman for

blacks in America. In “On Mr. Booker T. Washington

and Others” (also in Souls), Du Bois directly

challenged Washington’s philosophy. Thus began

a political feud that would last until Washington’s

influence began to wane after 1910, the year

Du Bois joined in the founding of the NAACP

(National Association for the Advancement of

Colored People).

In 1910, Du Bois left his academic position at

Atlanta University, which he had held since 1897,

to work in New York City with the NAACP. He

immediately founded Crisis magazine, which

soon became, under his editorial leadership, the

most widely read news and literary paper in black

America. He continued in this work until 1934

when his authority as Washington’s successor as

the foremost Negro leader in the United States fell

under attack.

Du Bois’s 25-year association with the NAACP

was always uneasy. He was temperamentally a

man of firm ideas and methods. He did not suffer

fools gladly, especially those who kowtowed (as

Washington had) to powerful whites. Throughout

these years in New York, Du Bois continued to

write prolifically, to engage in political commentary

and direct action, and to assert his lifelong

commitment to the importance of culture (notably

as a leader in the Harlem Renaissance of the

1920s).

Du Bois’s career as an academic sociologist was



split into two parts, both at Atlanta University. In

the early years (1897–1910), he taught economics

and history while engaged in empirical sociological

research. In addition to The Philadelphia Negro,

Du Bois conducted a series of field studies of rural

Negro communities in the South. Max Weber

attended one of the conferences on these studies

during his 1904 visit to the United States. Du

Bois’s second academic career was as Chair of the

Department of Sociology at Atlanta (1934–44).

Though he was in his eighth decade of life, Du

Bois returned to sociological scholarship with the

vigor of a young man. It was in this period that he

completed his most important work of historical

sociology.

Black Reconstruction (1935) is increasingly recognized

today as a brilliant structural sociology of

social change in the United States after the Civil

War. The book attacked the history profession’s

then current attitude that the failure of Reconstruction

(1863–77) was a failure of the freed

Negroes to make economic and social progress.

Du Bois responded in sharply sociological terms

that demonstrated that the freed people had

made remarkable progress given the structural

constraints. The three and a half million freed

Negroes, as a class, were trapped in a structural

conflict between the poor white workers and the

planter class. Planters ultimately restored their

economic dominance after 1877 by using the

poor whites as political pawns to pressure the

federal government to give up Reconstruction.

The poor whites were, in effect, granted the

higher racial status in compensation for their economic

misery. This has been called the racial wage

by David Roediger in Wages of Whiteness (1991). The

genius of Du Bois’s concept was that it was empirical,

structural, and historical sociology that

explained a local practice (segregation) as an element

in the social structures of the post-Civil-War

South.

Du Bois died in 1963, in Accra, Ghana, in exile



from the United States he had sought to redeem in

Du Bois, W. E. B. (1868–1963) Du Bois, W. E. B. (1868–1963)

149

his youth. The civil rights movements of the 1960s



brought Du Bois’s ideas into currency. He earned a

place in history as much for his political work as

for his scholarship and writing. CHARLES LEMERT

dual economy

Dual economy models were developed to challenge

unilinear accounts of capitalist development,

by emphasizing the persistent importance

of areas of economic activity that do not involve

large-scale corporations, mass production, or even

formal market relations. One example, from development

studies, concerned the coexistence of an

informal subsistence economy with a formal plantation

economy. Another addressed the persistence

of small-scale enterprises and low-paid

work alongside the business alliances and internal

welfare regimes of corporate capitalism, as in R. T.

Averitt’s analysis of The Dual Economy (1968) in the

United States, and N. Chalmers’s analysis of Industrial

Relations in Japan (1989). Here, dualism

between types of firm was matched by labor market

dualism, as large firms utilized primary, and

small firms, secondary, labor markets.

The critical power of these analyses depends

on explaining the survival of the subordinate

economy in terms of its role for the dominant

economy, by absorbing surplus labor or providing

low-cost production capacity. However, such

dependencies have been specified in quite varied

ways, with different implications for the dynamics

and persistence of dualism. For example,

M. J. Piore and C. F. Sabel, in The Second Industrial

Divide (1984), portray the erstwhile subordinate

small-firm sector as a potential challenger to

large-scale mass production. Dual economy models

also rest on clear contrasts in the organization

and dynamics of the two economies, but specifications

of the interlinkages and dependencies

between them often lead to more differentiated

accounts of production chains and hierarchies of

employment conditions. This moves away from a

clear dualism, but still addresses the processes

that may sustain differentiation and uneven development

in capitalist economies over time.

TONY ELGER

Louis Dumont (1911–1998)

A student of Marcel Mauss, his early work was on

French festivals, about which he published an ethnographic

study of La Tarasque (1951). He made a

major contribution to the analysis of Indian social

structure in Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and

its Implications (1972) and Religion, Politics and History

in India. Collected Papers in Indian Sociology

(1970). He also wrote on ideologies of equality

and individualism in western societies in From

Mandeville to Marx. The Genesis and Triumph of Economic

Ideology (1977) and Essays on Individualism.

Modern Ideology in Anthropological Perspective (1986).

He contrasted the hierarchical caste society of

India, with its emphasis on the social whole over

the individual, and western society where the

social whole is subordinated to the individual.

Following the tradition of French structuralism,

Dumont wanted to uncover the underlying principle

of caste, which he argued was the contrast

between pure and impure. Caste hierarchy was

founded on this dichotomous principle. By “hierarchy,”

Dumont did not mean social stratification.

Rather, hierarchy explains a relation of opposites

that can nevertheless cohere within a cultural

unity. Dumont’s contrast between holism and

individualism has become an important aspect of

the debate with Orientalism. BRYAN S. TURNER

Duncan, Otis Dudley (1921–2004)

Completing his PhD at the University of Chicago

in 1949, Duncan was a member of the Faculty

at Penn State University, and the universities of

Wisconsin, Chicago, Michigan, Arizona, and California,

Santa Barbara. His most influential publication

was with Peter M. Blau on The American

Occupational Structure (1967) which received the

American Sociological Association Sorokin Award

for the most distinguished scholarly publication

in 1968. Using the first large national survey

of social mobility in the United States, Blau and

Duncan showed how parents transmit their social

standing to their children mainly by influencing

their children’s education. Their approach to

social mobility showed that mobility takes the

form of small rather than dramatic steps up

the social ladder. In addition to its substantive

findings, The American Occupational Structure

showed how an important sociological topic could

be analyzed rigorously with appropriate quantitative

methods. Through his exploration of path

analysis, Duncan contributed to the development

and use of structural equation models in the

social sciences. He invented a measure of social

standing of occupations – the Duncan Socioeconomic

Index. He also developed an index of residential

segregation between blacks and whites in

Chicago. He was President of the Population

Association of America in 1968–9. He published

Notes on Social Measurement (1984), Statistical Geography:

Problems in Analysing Areal Data (1961), and

with H. Pfautz he translated M. Halbwach’s Population

and Society: Introduction to Social Morphology. His

dual economy Duncan, Otis Dudley (1921–2004)

150


general argument was that quantitative sociology

summarized empirical patterns in between-group

differences, while temporarily ignoring the pattern

of within-group individual differences.

BRYAN S. TURNER

Durkheim, E´mile (1858–1917)

Generally considered as one of the founding

fathers of sociology, and by some as the sociologist

par excellence, Durkheim labored to establish

the intellectual distinctiveness and significance of

the discipline and to charter it as a fully legitimate

component of academia. The following

account of his thought is focused on four books

that are conventionally considered the most

significant.

Born in 1858 to a Jewish family, in the French

town Epinay (Lorraine), Durkheim witnessed as an

adolescent the defeat of the Second Empire in the

Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent tragedy

of the Paris Commune. In 1879–82, at the E´cole

Normale Supe´rieure, in Paris, he studied chiefly

philosophy and history. Subsequently he taught

philosophy in a lyce´e, but five years later joined

the faculty at the University of Bordeaux. His

teaching subject was the philosophy of education,

but early on he coupled it with “social science”

and later with “sociology.”

At the time, in France and in other parts of

Europe, sociology was cultivated by intellectuals

and scholars, but was not accepted as an academic

discipline. Durkheim gave the first major demonstration

of his own understanding of it, and of its

entitlement to recognition and institutionalization,

in his massive doctoral dissertation The

Division of Labour in Society (1893 [trans. 1933]).

Targeting a phenomenon which had been and

was being thematized chiefly by economists, Division

agreed with them that the division of labor

was a most significant phenomenon, particularly

so in modern society. He also agreed with the

social Darwinist view of the division of labor

(put forward principally by Herbert Spencer) as

the human variant of a universal biological

process, the progression from simple forms of

life to differentiated, complex ones.

Durkheim, however, rejected what later came to

be called the utilitarian interpretation of the

causes and consequences of the division of labor.

He believed that the causes could not lie, as Spencer

had claimed, in the individual’s pursuit of

his own egoistic advantage through increasingly

specialized, and thus increasingly efficient and

competitive, activity. The division of labor had

taken off originally in societies so simple and so

cohesive that their members did not conceive of

themselves as possessing interests of their own, to

be pursued at their own behest and initiative.

That all early human societies were so constituted

was indicated, according to Durkheim, by

the way they typically responded to violations of

their norms. That response took the form of punitive

sanctions, of inflictions of pain on the violators

by, or in the name of, the whole society, in

order to reassert universally shared and strongly

entertained understandings.

These early societies all embodied the following

“morphological” pattern. A small population, with

low demographic density, subsists in a relatively

large territory, exploiting its resources extensively,

through very simple practices, assisted only by the

most primitive technology. Such societies are segmented

into even smaller, very similar subunits,

which subsist in the manner indicated, each

embodying the same culture but interacting

with the others chiefly on ritual occasions, which

renew in everyone the awareness of and dedication

to shared, sacred beliefs and practices. Under

these conditions, the society hangs together

mechanically, because it is highly homogenous,

and presents no fissures to be mended.

Many times in the course of pre-history, the

equilibrium of such a society, according to Durkheim,

has been disturbed by a critical development

of a distinctively social nature, not

expressing the intentions and strategies of individual

actors (who at this point exist only as separate

biological entities). An increase in population

occurs, and the increased demographic density

puts the resources under growing competitive

pressure. Either the society in question falls prey

to strife and disorder, thus leaving no further

trace on the pre-historic record, or it spontaneously

embarks on a course of sustained change,

chiefly by dividing labor.

This latter solution leads, over many generations,

to a society with dramatically different

traits from the previous one. Its population is

large, and, although it operates over a large territory,

is much denser. It now makes intensive use

of the territory’s resources, because distinct parts

of that territory are as different as the countryside

on one hand, towns on the other. Furthermore, a

differentiation process has also penetrated those

parts, for that intensive use requires the components

of the population of even the same

locality to develop different skills and different

technologies.

Only a very small part of the society’s cultural

patrimony is shared by all parts and by all the

Durkheim, E´mile (1858–1917) Durkheim, E´mile (1858–1917)

151

components of each part. Increasingly diverse



beliefs and norms now activate and guide individuals

in their differentiated activities. They are

less sharply formulated than those obtaining in

the former kind of society. They authorize and

broadly orient the individual’s diverse activities

rather than commandeering them and narrowly

directing them. They allow for more variation in

the ways they are understood and implemented.

They also acknowledge, regulate, and protect

the pursuit by individuals of interests which are

private to themselves.

The violation of the greater part of the norms,

in particular, does not evoke the wrath of the

whole society. Rather, sanctions are typically not

punitive but “restitutive,” that is they seek to

remedy the damage the violation has done to the

interests of given individuals, and only if these

request such remedy.

Thus the normative bonds underwritten by and

addressed to the whole society are fewer, relative

to the totality of sanctioned expectations, and

somewhat looser. But this does not abandon the

society to disorder and strife. It now hangs

together primarily because its different parts

interact with, and deliver goods and services to,

one another. The mechanical solidarity of simple

society with a minimal division of labor has been

replaced by an organic one. This reminds one of the

evolution of advanced biological species, which

present organs which are diverse in structure

and operation, but all subserve the needs of each

other and of the whole.

This result was the main consequence of the

division of labor, not the increased happiness of

society as Spencer claimed. Spencer, furthermore,

while correctly emphasizing the role that contracts

play in establishing and managing the relations

between individuals in modern societies,

had not realized that “not everything in the contract

is contractual.” These individuals only avail

themselves of the contracts as juridical instruments

of their private pursuits because public

authorities had created and sanctioned the institution

of the contract. In fact, advanced societies

required such authorities to work towards

their integration, not to shrink into mere “night

watchmen” as Spencer wanted them to.

The Rules of Sociological Method (1895 [trans. 1958]),

which appeared two years after Division, was a

manifesto for a positivistic conception of sociology’s

mission, for it considered the natural

sciences as an appropriate methodological model

for the development of sociology itself. Durkheim,

however, did not like the expression “positivistic”

to be applied to him, for it was associated with a

specific philosophical posture, and in spite of his

philosophical training he was keen to lay a boundary

between philosophy and sociology. His strategy

was to commit sociology, by means of two

chief arguments, to a self-conscious strategy of

empirical reference. First, sociology had a distinctive

realm of facts – social facts – to attend to.

Second, it had to treat those facts as things, that

is as phenomena which are external to those perceiving

them (including those studying them) and

which lay constraints on their activity.

A further boundary had to be established

between sociology and psychology. The most significant

social facts are collective ways of acting

and thinking, that is repre´sentations, or mental constructs,

unavoidably lodged in the psyches of

human individuals. Collective representations,

however, are distinguished from those that are

not collective – and which can be left for psychology

to study – by one significant characteristic.

They are sanctioned, that is society makes

arrangements for the eventuality that they are

not, in a given case, respected and complied with.

It is in the very nature of such representations

that they can and indeed are occasionally violated.

On this account, Durkheim shockingly declared,

even crime itself is normal. Its occurrence and its

modalities should be registered by sociologists,

and its causes investigated, without indulging in

philosophical moralizing.

The same empirical posture is implicit in various

strategies of investigation Durkheim recommended

to sociologists. For instance, they should,

as early as possible, define clearly the phenomenon

they study (and their definitions may well

vary from the conventional ones). They should be

aware of variations in that phenomenon, study

them comparatively, and seek to establish their

causes, and distinguish these from their consequences

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