Sociology, Department of


First Advisor

Miguel Carranza

Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1989. “Roscoe Pound and American Sociology: A Study in Archival Frame Analysis, Sociobiography and Sociological Jurisprudence.” Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright (c) 1989 Michael R. Hill


Roscoe Pound (1870-1964) was a noted botanist, jurist, and sociologist who founded the American school of sociological jurisprudence. Pound's sociological ideas originated at the University of Nebraska. Pound developed numerous ties to other sociologists, joined the American Sociological Society, and published in the American Journal of Sociology. Pound's modern erasure from sociological chronicles is attributed in part to hegemonic processes. The collection of archival data for this study in the history of sociology is generalized (by extending Erving Goffman's metatheory of meaning) as "archival frame analysis." Pound's intellectual milieu is analyzed using Mary Jo Deegan's theory of "core codes" from her analysis of communitas and alienation in American ritual dramas. Pound was pragmatically committed to social scientific research for improving the "law in action." He directed major surveys of criminal justice systems in Cleveland and China. His Criminal Justice in Cleveland is an exemplar of sociological methodology and theoretical insight. The bureaucratic ecology of the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement is examined in a parallel biography of three Nebraska-trained scholars (Roscoe Pound, Edith Abbott, and Hattie Plum Williams) who served the Commission. Pound also explored the institutional patterns of law. Building chronologically-ordered systematic classifications of legal theories, he traced the complexity of conflicting patterns in the social institution of law. These analyses gave him the philosophical basis of sociological jurisprudence. The heart of sociological jurisprudence is Pound's "theory of interests": social control requires informed adjustments between competing social interests. Adjudication of conflicts must not rely on rigid interpretations of precedents, but must take account of social change and relevant social scientific data. Pound's theory is deeply liberal and steeped in the American progressivism of the early twentieth century. Weaknesses in Pound's theory mirror his unreflexive acceptance of the biases of his white, male, professional world. Nonetheless, Pound's sociological critique of law was progressive, insightful, and foundational.