Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1999. “Le Play, Warner, and the Sociology of Fieldwork.” Sociological Origins 1 (2): 66-68.


Copyright 1999 Michael R. Hill


Several American sociologists have earlier noted, albeit briefly, Frédéric Le Play’s contributions to sociology, for example: Amos Warner (1886), George E. Howard (1904, III: 378), Elsie Clews Parsons (1906: 305, 337), Robert Park and Ernest Burgess (1921: 215), Emory S. Bogardus (1928: 615-16), Charles H. Cooley (Cooley, Angell and Carr 1933: 479), Floyd House (1936), and Lewis Mumford (1948: 678, 683). To this list, Luigi Tomasi (below) adds the names of Merle Frampton, Walter Goldfrank, Robert Nisbet, Catherine Silver, Albion Small, Pitirim Sorokin, and Carle Zimmerman. E.R.A. Seligman and Alvin Johnson included a short biography of Le Play in their Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (Salomon 1933). Two British writers, Higgs (1890) and Herbertson (1920-21), also provided early summaries of Le Play’s work. Many of these names are well known, and a few are of more recent vintage than others, but the names “Frédéric Le Play” and “Amos Griswold Warner” are not frequently linked in sociological accounts of the discipline today. Warner, the author of American Charities, a foundational work in Americansociology (Howard 1908; Deegan1989), not only wroteabout LePlay (below), but also published in the journal founded by Le Play, La Réforme sociale (Warner 1888). The “symposium” presented in this issue of SOCIOLOGICALORIGINS celebratesWarner’s early openness to European ideas and the largely unacknowledged role of Le Play’s ideas in American sociology.