A History of Sociology in Britain: Science, Literature, and Society

OUP Oxford (2004)
Abstract
This is the first-ever critical history of sociology in Britain, written by one of the world's leading scholars in the field. Renowned British sociologist, A. H. Halsey, presents a vivid and authoritative picture of the neglect, expansion, fragmentation, and explosion of the discipline during the past century. He is well equipped to write the story, having lived through most of it and having taught and researched in Britain, the USA, and Europe. The story begins with L.T. Hobhouse's election to the first chair in sociology in London in 1907, but traces earlier origins of the discipline to Scotland and the English provinces. There is a lively account of the nineteenth-century battles between literature and science for the possession of the third culture of social studies, setting the context for a narrative history of rapid expansion in the second half of the twentieth century. LSE had a virtual monopoly before World War II. The educational establishment of Oxford and Cambridge opposed its introduction into the undergraduate curriculum. Only the expansion of sociology to the Scottish, Welsh, provincial, and 'new' universities after the Robbins Report of 1963 brought reluctant acceptance of the subject to Oxford and Cambridge. The student troubles of 1968 are then described and the subsequent doubts, confrontations, and cuts of the 1970s and 80s. Then, paradoxically by a Conservative Government, there was a new university expansion incorporating polytechnics and other colleges, with a consequent doubling of both staff and students in the 1990s. Yet the end of the century left sociology riven by intellectual conflict. It had survived the Marxist subversions of the 70s and the feminist invasion. Yet the renewed challenges of various forms of relativism (especially enthno-methodology and post-modernism) still threatened, and at root the war was, as it began, between a scientific quantifying and explanatory subject and a literary, interpretative set of cultural studies.
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