Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1989. “Mari Sandoz’ Sociological Imagination: Capital City as an Ideal Type.” Platte Valley Review (University of Nebraska-Kearney Press, Papers from the Conference on Mari Sandoz) 17 (1): 102-22. 1989. [Note: Due to a printer’s error, the pages of the references and appendices (pp. 116-122) were misnumbered and thus inadvertently scrambled. The proper sequence is: 116, 119, 120, 117, 118, 121, 122. In this digital file, these pages, although not renumbered, do appear the proper order.]


Copyright 1989 Michael R. Hill


This paper examines Mari Sandoz' (1939) novel Capital City from the perspective of sociology. ‘I outline Sandoz' data collection methods and consider her use of ideal-type analysis and sociological imagination. From the perspective of literary critics it may be, as Helen Stauffer (1982: 131) judged, that Capital City "is not a successful novel." It is not my purpose, however, to contest the merit of Sandoz' work on literary grounds. Rather, I invoke the viewpoint of the sociologist and note the criteria on which I conclude that Capital City is a complex and well-executed sociological study.