Ilut 1/2005

Sociologie Românească, Vol. III, no. 1/2005, pp. 110-127.



SR 1 2005 coperta

Vitalitatea Școlii de la Chicago

The vitality of the Chicago School

Petru Iluț, Laura Nistor, Reka Geambașu


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Abstract (Rezumat în limba engleză): Does the Chicago School mean a single sociological school inside the University of Chicago or does it mean many different sociological schools? What happens today at Chicago is the continuation of the well-known Chicagoan sociological tradition (of course, with specific adaptations to nowadays social reality) or are there radical ideological innovations? In what manner the Chicago school of sociology or the Chicago schools of sociology coincide with the evolution of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and how does the American Journal of Sociology edited by this department reflect these possibilities and situations? Among others these are the theoretical questions raised in our analysis based on three specific researches. While Andrew Abbott undertakes an ample, well-documented contextualstudy on the Chicago tradition, analyzing on the one hand the impact of the disciplinary evolutions in USA on the school, and vice versa, including the importance of the American Journal of Sociology on these evolutions, the two other researches are examples of different theoretical and methodological imperatives. Laumann and Michael apply both quantitative and qualitative methodologies when studying the sexual behavior of US citizens, insisting on the importance of social and psychological contexts of different variables when comparing and correlating them. Thus the explanations are comprehensive and can be used to enforce macro level policy decisions (mainly health policy in this case). Tang and Parish choose the reversed way: they are concerned with the impact of macro level social, political and economic transformations on the micro-social. Even their model is a theoretical one, they succeed in explanations by applying it to a specific context, those of post-social Chinese cities. So doing generalized deductions regarding other post-social societies can be made if only we have in mind the imperative of context. Of course, using the macro and micro interplay, triangulations like quantitative-qualitative-contextual these last two researches are at first sight very similar to those made in the so called first Chicago School regarding the improvements of immigrant policies or those regarding the impact of capitalism and new status quo on immigrants. Innovations are made by using other newer paradigms, many of them even Chicagoan for example that of rational choice in explaining micro-level practices. Beyond the labels school or schools or department, the sociology at the University of Chicago is a dynamic and full of vitality even today. This sociology is a practitioner of paradigms like contextualism, interactionalism, being accurate in the control of variables, complementary in approaching complex social phenomena, doing all these often in teamwork. But another question is raised rightly: aren’t by chance these theoretical and methodological paradigms commonplaces in contemporary sociology in general? Without any doubt, they are. What makes Chicago unique among these commontreats is the value and the vigor by which Chicago succeeded in elaborating, promoting and modifying these paradigms inside international sociology, and the fact that Chicago is not only a practitioner of such demands, but also an applier of them in researches with great influence on public affairs and policies.