When Pete Seeger was sociology major at Harvard University, Thomas and Znaneicki’s The Polish Peasant had been published but Talcott Parson’s The Social System had not. Parsons was on the faculty, however, and so was Robert Merton, though they weren’t the reason Pete dropped out of Harvard after one year. He wanted to play the banjo, be a journalist and study art — all subjects not viewed as relevant by the department.
This didn’t stop him from reading, studying and practicing sociology, however, and he ended up doing pretty okay (see image above of Pete performing in California in the 1950s, © The Weinstein Company). An earlier post about when sociology was cool, as well as the sociological definition of cool is right here.
End Note: I shot this candid footage of Pete Seeger and composer and musician David Amram at a backyard bar-b-que in Beacon, New York, the week after Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday party at Madison Square Garden in May of 2009. Right before I took it, Pete ate a piece of cherry pie as if it were an apple and washed down with a beer and David, (who was 79 at the time), three hot dogs on a stick followed by a diet ginger ale. “No bun,” he said. “I’m watching carbs.” Some more beautiful, candid footage of Pete and David from the summer of 2010 is here.