Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1991. “Harriet Martineau (1802-1876).” Pp. 289-297 in Women in Sociology: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, edited by Mary Jo Deegan. New York: Greenwood Press.


Copyright 1991 Michael R. Hill


Harriet Martineau authored the first systematic methodological treatise in sociology, conducted extended international comparative studies of social institutions, and translated Auguste Comte's Cours de philosophie positive into English, thus structurally facilitating the introduction of sociology and positivism into the United States. In her youth she was a professional writer who captured the popular English mind by wrapping social scientific instruction in a series of widely read short novels. In her maturity she was an astute sociological theorist, methodologist, and analyst of the first order. To the extent that any complex institutional phenomenon such as sociology can have identifiable founders, Alice Rossi * (1973, 118-124) justly celebrates Harriet Martineau as "the first woman sociologist. "