Mike Featherstone’s unpublished MA thesis on Ecology and the Chicago School

Roger Burrows shared this link to Mike Featherstone’s unpublished MA thesis a few weeks ago. It really is an incredible piece of work:

The development of human ecology is closely associated with the rise of empirical sociological research in the United States. Human ecology played an important part in the programme of research into the city of Chicago which was formulated by Robert Park and carried out by his associates and graduate students in the Sociology Department of the University of Chicago in the inter-war years. As the name of the sub-discipline suggests, human ecology derived a series of theoretical principles about the sustenance and spatial relations of population aggregates from plant and animal ecology, and applied them to the study of human society. An understanding of the central theoretical assumptions of Chicago human ecology can be gained by an exploration of human ecology’s relationship to sociology and general ecology, as well as by examining the sub-discipline’s contribution to the Chicago Sociologists’ theory of the city. Human ecology’s development can also be understood as having been influenced by the empirical studied of the city of Chicago which were carried out by Park’s students in the 192ds and early 1930s. These studies, which used human ecology as a frame of reference played a very important part in establishing a tradition of empirical sociological research in the United States.


As Roger explained, this piece of work reflected a very different structure of MA teaching to that found in the UK today:

Categories: Higher Education, Social Theory, Sociological Craft

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