Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1998. “Martineau in Current Introductory Textbooks: An Empirical Survey.” The Harriet Martineau Sociological Society Newsletter, No. 4 (Spring): 4-5.


Copyright 1998 Michael R. Hill


Harriet Martineau is now making significant appearances in introductory textbooks used in the u.s. and Canada. There was a time, not so long ago, when only the Hess, Markson, and Stein "intro text" made note of Harriet Martineau. Although ample room for progress remains, the situation is improving.

I made a comprehensive effort, during the 1997 meetings of the American Sociological Association in Toronto, Canada, to survey all introductory sociology textbooks that were prominently displayed by publishers in their booths in the Sheraton Exhibition Hall. Some ninety publishers displayed textbooks, journals, and sociological monographs. Of forty-three works clearly identifiable and promoted as "intro texts" designed for first-year college students in introductory sociology survey courses, twelve listed Harriet Martineau in the index and made reference to her in the text.

Thus, approximately 28% of the current batch of actively promoted "intro texts" make explicit mention of Harriet Martineau. "Mention" ranges, on the one hand, from simple, declarative sentences describing Martineau only as "Comte's translator" to, on the other hand, balanced, page-length discussions of her ideas and sociological accomplishments. Some entries also include a portrait.

No attempt is made here, however, to judge the overall competence of these textbooks. Further, each treatment of Martineau is left to each reader's own evaluative lens. I hope the authors of any textbooks I may have missed in my survey will accept my sincere apologies and, more important, will communicate their welcome inclusion of Harriet Martineau to be reported in a future issue of the HMSS Newsletter.

As professors and educational administrators, we are in positions to influence the selection and adoption of "intro texts." The titles below provide a pool of texts in which Martineau receives at least minor mention, and from which we can consider and suggest text adoptions. Given the increased number of books that reference Martineau, we are now in a much stronger position to refuse consideration to books that omit Martineau and/or other women founders of our discipline. We must take every opportunity to make editors and publishers' sales representatives aware that it is not acceptable to overlook or misrepresent women's contributions to sociology. Further, the work of relevant women and feminist male sociologists should appear throughout each "intro text," not just in the history or gender chapters.

I am pleased to identify the "winners" in my survey of introductory sociology textbooks. The following "intro texts," displayed at the 1997 ASA meetings in Toronto, Canada, deserve our consideration for possible textbook adoption. The list in Table 1 is arranged alphabetically, by author. The page(s) where Martineau is cited are noted in parentheses after each entry.