Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 2001. “Epilogue: Martineauian Sociology and Our Disciplinary Future.” Pp. 191-193 in Harriet Martineau: Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives, edited by Michael R. Hill and Susan Hoecker-Drysdale. New York: Routledge.


Copyright 2001 Michael R. Hill


I argue above, in concert with my colleagues, that we must take Harriet Martineau seriously, and that there are sound reasons for so doing. The history, sophistication, innovativeness, and continuing resonance of her work and ideas are dramatic, engaging, and impressive by all of the yardsticks used to assess the merit and importance of our sociological founders. We are asked, on occasion, "Yes, but what possible difference does Martineau make to sociology today?" Sheer impudence aside, it is a question to answer carefully, with probity, and our answers must be convincing rather than contrived. The gravity of the question comes home to us if we rephrase the query, to ask: "What possible difference does it make for sociology today if we had never heard of Durkheim, Weber, Marx, or Mead?" Presumably, many of us would reply that the absence of such major figures would make an enormous impact, that the shape and scope of sociology as a disciplinary enterprise would be quite else than it is without their contributions. Thus so with Martineau. Any sociologies (especially the received ~ciology of the standard textbooks) that lack the conscious acknowledgment, influence, and impetus of her work are necessarily strange and distorted versions of sociology. Likewise, the absence of Durkheim, Weber, Marx, or Mead would also create curiously strange and unrecognizable sociologies. Our discipline grows stronger from inclusion and dialogue, not from exclusion and silence.