Michigan State University, East Lansing

Applied sociology is the oldest and most generalterm for what Lester F. Ward (1903) identifiedmore than 100 years ago as “the means and meth-

ods for the artificial improvement of social conditions onthe part of man and society as conscious and intelligentagents” (p. vii). Applied sociology uses sociologicalknowledge and research skills to gain empirically basedknowledge to inform decision makers, clients, and the gen-eral public about social problems, issues, processes, andconditions so that they might make informed choices andimprove the quality of life (Rossi and Whyte 1983; Steele,Scarisbrick-Hauser, and Hauser 1999). In its broadestsense applied sociology encompasses evaluation research,needs assessment, market research, social indicators, anddemographics. It would also include directed sociologicalresearch in medicine, mental health, complex organi-zations, work, education, and the military to mention but a few.

Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, thisconcept of applied sociology fits nicely with the NationalInstitutes of Health’s (Zerhouni 2003) and the NationalInstitute of Mental Health’s (2000) new funding initiativesin translational research, which require that scientists tietheir research to practical applications (Dingfelder 2005).Translational research aims at converting basic biologicaland behavioral science research into forms that can addresspressing issues in health care diagnosis, treatment, anddelivery. By extension, this means that applied sociologi-cal research will produce descriptions, analyses, and find-ings that can be translated into ideas and lessons learnedfrom previous activities or programs to be used by actionorganizations, including citizens groups, foundations,

business, labor, and government. It is likely that in the nearfuture, more public and private funding will continue toshift from basic to translational or applied research andfrom researcher-initiated grants to funder-defined con-tracts as universities become more engaged in community-based research and application (Petersen and Dukes 2004).

Early in the twentieth century, Ward (1906:9) separatedapplied sociology from civic and social reform. The rela-tionship between applied sociology, on the one hand, anddeliberate interventions based in sociological reasoning bysocial engineers and clinical sociologists, on the other, hasbeen a source of contention ever since. This chapter willfocus on the history and development of applied sociologyas a research endeavor undertaken on behalf of clients orfunding agencies in contrast to the more direct interven-tionist approach of clinical sociology.

This chapter divides the past 150 years into four peri-ods: (1) from the origins of sociology through the end ofWorld War I—1850 to 1920; (2) the struggle between aca-demic sociology and applied sociology—1920 to 1940; (3)the growth of federally sponsored research from theSecond World War through the end of the War onPoverty—1940 to 1980; and (4) the emergence of a moreindependent and professional applied sociology since1980.


Auguste Comte (1798–1857), who created sociology,divided it into social statics, the study of the conditions and

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preconditions of social order, and social dynamics, thestudy of human progress and evolution. Comte ([1854,1896] 1961) wrote that the statical view of society is thebasis of sociology but that the dynamical view is not onlythe more interesting of the two but more philosophical,since social dynamics would study the laws of the rise andfall of societies and furnish the true theory of progress forpolitical practice. Comte (Barnes 1948a:101) envisioned acorps of positivist priests trained as sociologists, whowould not possess any temporal power but rather wouldinfluence through teaching and provide informed directionto public opinion. They would impart useful scientificknowledge and social advice on all aspects of civil life.They would suggest action to the civil authorities butwould never undertake such action on their own responsi-bility or initiative. It appears that Comte’s applied sociolo-gists would be neither basic researchers nor socialactivists/interventionists but rather occupy a translationalrole between the two.

In contrast, Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) arguedagainst any form of artificial interference and that sociolo-gists should convince the public that society must be freefrom the meddling of governments and reformers (Coser1977:97–102). He was very skeptical of the possibility ofgenerating progress through legislation since such legisla-tion is not based on the widest possible knowledge of thesociological principles involved (Barnes 1948b:134).Spencer was a strong advocate of laissez faire and coinedthe phrase “survival of the fittest” several years beforeDarwin wrote Origin of the Species. As a result, he is con-sidered the founder of Social Darwinism. Spencer thoughtsocieties evolved from coercive militarism to peacefulindustrialism in which individuals are free to move aboutand change their social relations without destroying socialcohesion. The change from militarism to industrialism isan evolutionary process that depends on the rate of inte-gration, and the slower the rate, the more complete and sat-isfactory the evolution (Giddings 1909, cited in Tilman2001). Therefore, evolution is a wholly spontaneousprocess that artificial human interference could in no wayhasten but might fatally obstruct or divert (Barnes1948b:129).

Within academic circles, one of Spencer’s early sup-porters was William Graham Sumner (1840–1910).Sumner introduced the first serious course in sociology in the United States at Yale University in 1875, adoptingSpencer’s The Study of Sociology as the text. Sumner pro-moted a sociology marked by conservative politics,descriptive accounts of societal evolution, and the natureof normative systems that define and control behavior(Perdue 1986). In “The Absurd Effort to Make the WorldOver,” Sumner ([1894] 1911) strongly supported the ideathat social evolution was almost entirely an automatic,spontaneous process that cannot be extensively altered bysocial effort (Barnes 1948c:160). He favored laissez fairepolicies and saw state activity as “ignorant social doctors”telling the Forgotten Man, that is, the hard working middle

class, what to do for those who had failed in the strugglefor existence (Barnes 1948c:164).

Spencer was popularized in the United States throughthe efforts of Professor Edward Livingston Youmans, achemist, educator, writer, and eventually an importantagent and editor for D. Appleton and Company (Versen2006). In 1860, after reading the prospectus for Principlesof Psychology, Youmans arranged for the first Americanpublication of Spencer’s works, and in 1872, became thefounding editor of The Popular Science Monthly, whichpromoted science generally and evolution in particular. ForYoumans (1872), science was not limited to natural andbiological phenomena but included the intelligent observa-tion of the characters of people, the scrutiny of evidence inregard to political theories, the tracing of cause and effectin the sequences of human conduct, and the strict inductiveinquiry as to how society has come to be what it is.

Spencer’s ideas on evolution, antimilitarism, and peace-ful industrialism became the focus of some adult educationcourses in the Second Unitarian Church in Brooklyn, NewYork. Youmans was acquainted with its minister, JohnWhite Chadwick. This group eventually formed theBrooklyn Ethical Association, and one of its objectiveswas “the scientific study of ethics, politics, economics,sociology, religion and philosophy, and also of physics andbiology as related thereto” (Brooklyn Ethical Association,Certificate of Incorporation, cited in Versen 2004:9;Skilton 2005:4). The Association devoted its 1881–82 ses-sions to Spencer’s The Study of Sociology. Within 10 years,the Association created a class of Honorary CorrespondingMembers, which included Herbert Spencer himself;Thomas H. Huxley ([1893] 2004), President of the BritishRoyal Society, who argued that humans created an ethicalprocess that deviated from, and worked counter to, the nat-ural course of evolution; Minot J. Savage (1886), Unitarianminister in Chicago and Boston and author of SocialProblems; Andrew Dickson White, historian and first pres-ident of Cornell University; Eliza A. Youmans, a pioneer inthe field of botany and sister of Edward Youmans; andJoseph Le Conte, geologist, President of the AmericanAssociation for the Advancement of Science in 1891, andauthor of “Race Problems in the South” (1892), publishedin the Association’s Man and the State.

In 1892, the Brooklyn Ethical Association publishedMan and the State: Studies in Applied Sociology and in1893, Factors in American Civilization: Studies in AppliedSociology. This may be the first use of the term appliedsociology in the title of a book. The association consideredsociology to be the science of social evolution and soughtto apply “evolutionary philosophy and ethics to the studyand discussion of the pressing problems of politics andstatesmanship to come before the people of the UnitedStates” (Skilton 2005:4).

The preface to Man and State (Brooklyn 1892:v–vi)reaffirmed Spencer’s views that societies grew in a regularand orderly way according to inherent laws that were notmechanically imposed. It noted that while a priori schemes

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of social reformers can stimulate thought, promote altruis-tic endeavor, and educate the individual, enacting theseschemes into legislation would not abolish poverty orcrime, or speed the renovation of society. The preface sawthe role of sociology as a safer and wiser way of individ-ual enlightenment and moral education. Sociology wouldsubject the schemes of social reformers to the operationsof the principle of natural selection, identify what isinstructive and good in each, propose practical forwardsteps, and substitute the method of evolution for that ofviolent and spasmodic change, thereby, slowly promotingthe permanent welfare of societies and individuals.

Lester F. Ward (1841–1913), who brought the termapplied sociology into the discipline, spent most of hiscareer as a paleontologist with the United States GeologicalSurvey, joining the Sociology Department of BrownUniversity in 1906 when he was 65. His early work focusedon the relation of fossil plants to geological location in strataand this undoubtedly reflected an interest in evolution. In1876, he published “The Local Distribution of Plants andthe Theory of Adaptation” in Popular Science Monthly,which brought him to the attention of its editor, EdwardYoumans. In addition, Ward’s mentor, the noted geologistand explorer John Wesley Powell, wrote to Youmans in sup-port of Dynamic Sociology or Applied Social Science, whichwas published in 1883 (Ward 1883:iii–v; Scott 1976:29).

Dynamic Sociology was the first major American workon sociology and although not intended as a text, was onthe reading lists of early sociology courses. Ward differedsharply from Spencer and Sumner on laissez-faire individ-ualism, and he argued for the efficacy of government as anagent of social reform, if it could be put on a scientificbasis and purged of its corruption and stupidity (Barnes1948d:182). As a career government scientist with a legalbackground, Ward understandably took up Comte’s idea ofsociocrats, believing that government can directly improvethe conditions of society in a conscious or “telic” mannerif the legislators will only become social scientists or havegained knowledge of the nature and means of controllingthe social forces and be willing to apply this knowledge(Barnes 1948d:183 citing Dynamics). Scientific lawmak-ing would be based on a greater use of social statistics(Ward 1877), with sociology as the chief source of infor-mation that is essential for any extensive development ofscientific government (Barnes 1948d:185).

On the other hand, Ward (1906:10) was very skepticalabout the efforts of utopian social reform and socialistmovements that favored radical and abrupt changes insocial structures. He was a “meliorist” who thought thatmuch could be accomplished through education of boththe public and government leaders. Ward (1906) wrote,

Applied sociology is not government or politics, nor civic orsocial reform. It does not itself apply sociological principles;it only seeks to show how they might be. The most that itclaims to do is to lay down certain general principles as guidesto social and political action. (Pp. 9–10)

He added, “A sociologist, who takes sides on currentevents and the burning questions of the hour, abandons hisscience and becomes a politician.” Ward came to thismainly as a reaction to Spencer’s writing, which Wardthought was prejudiced, not scientific, and not in harmonywith Spencer’s system as a whole and well before MaxWeber ([1913] 1978) called for value-free sociology.

Youmans was disappointed with the initial sales ofDynamic Sociology or Applied Social Science and sus-pected that the title, which was drawn directly fromComte’s classification, was too close to Spencer’sDescriptive Sociology, which in turn derived from Comte’ssocial statics (Ward 1897:v). Ward, who would become thefirst president of the American Sociological Society (laterrenamed American Sociological Association, or ASA),was a participant in many intellectual and scientificsocieties (Odum 1951), including the PhilosophicalSociety and Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. (Scott1976) and the Metaphysical Club (Menand 2001:301). Hemay have come across the term applied sociology as aresult of attending a meeting of the Ethical Association, atwhich Dr. Felix Adler, professor of Hebrew and OrientalLiterature at Cornell University and founder of the ethicalculture movement, among others, dealt with differentmethods of relieving human suffering and promotinghuman welfare. Ward (1906:28) wrote that this congress(possibly of all the ethical societies in America that washeld in St. Louis in 1896) talked applied sociology fromfirst to last. He was familiar with the new ethics thatinquired into social conditions and sought to introducemodifications that would prevent existing evils and rendertheir recurrence impossible (Ward 1906:29).

This may have included the Brooklyn EthicalAssociation’s two volumes of Studies in AppliedSociology. By the early 1890s, Ward (1903:vii, viii, 6) alsoknew that several European sociologists were using theterm pure sociology. He may have first used the terms pureand applied sociology in the titles of two summer schoolcourses at the University of Chicago in 1897, which herepeated at the University of West Virginia in 1898 andthen at Stanford University in 1899. He published PureSociology in 1903 and Applied Sociology in 1906.

Ward himself did not do any sociological fieldwork orempirical research. Reformers at Hull House in Chicagodid the earliest applied research in the United States.Despite his dislike for social reformers, Ward would prob-ably have been pleased that it was done primarily by agroup of women since he was a strong advocate of genderequality (Odum 1951). Like Ward, Jane Addams was crit-ical of socialism and abstract theories that impeded sociallearning by their inflexibility and tendency to dividepeople. She also thought that science could guide socialreform through the patient accumulation of facts about thelives of the working poor.

The key activist researcher was Florence Kelley(1859–1932), the daughter of a U.S. congressman, whostudied at Cornell University and the University of Zurich


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and, in 1887, translated Engel’s The Conditions of theWorking Class in England. She came to Chicago in 1891with her three children and became a resident of HullHouse. Kelley, Addams and the other Hull House activistswere convinced that once the overwhelming suffering ofthe poor was documented and publicized, meaningfulreforms would be quickly put into place (Brown 2001).

In 1892, the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics hiredKelley to investigate the “sweating” system in the Chicagogarment industry. Then, in 1893, when the U.S. Congresscommissioned a nationwide survey to investigate the slumsof great cities and assess the extent of poverty in urbanareas, she was selected to lead the survey effort in Chicago.Kelley and others conducted a door-to-door survey in theHull House district and, following the lead of CharlesBooth’s maps of poverty in London, created maps showingthe nationality, wages, and employment history of eachresident. Published in 1895, The Hull-House Maps andPapers offered no explanation for the causes of povertyand social disorder.

For Addams, practice was a priority over theory(Schram 2002). In the preface, she claimed that this wasnot a sociological investigation to test or build theory but aconstructive work that could help push the progressiveagenda to address the injustices of poverty. As such, itsimply recorded certain phases of neighborhood life andpresented detailed information that might prompt ahumanitarian response from the government (Brown2001). Kelley authored two chapters, one on the sweatingsystem and another with Alzina P. Stevens on wage-earning children. Interestingly, the authors of two other chapters, Charles Zeublin, “The Chicago Ghetto”and Josefa Humpal Zeman, “The Bohemian People in Chicago,” were forerunners of the Chicago School of Sociology of the 1920s. Zeublin joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Sociology Department a fewyears later.

Kelley earned a law degree from NorthwesternUniversity and in 1899 moved to New York City to headthe National Consumer’s League (NCL) where she workedwith Josephine Goldmark, director of research at NCL, toprepare the successful “Brandeis brief” defense of 10-hourworkday legislation for women in Muller v. Oregon(1908), which like the Brown v. Board of Education (1954)school desegregation case almost 50 years later, used soci-ological evidence to support its case (Sklar 1985; Deegan1986).

Jane Addams (1860–1935) followed her own appliedand activist track in Chicago. Throughout her career, shemaintained a tenuous relationship with academic sociol-ogy. In 1892, she taught a summer course on applied phil-anthropy and ethics with sociologist Franklin Giddings,and, in 1893, presided over a two-day conference at theChicago World’s Fair sponsored by the InternationalParliament of Sociology. She declined at least two offers tojoin the Sociology Department at Chicago, apparently overconcerns about the limits on speech and political activism

associated with university settings. Addams, however, didbecome a charter member of the American SociologicalSociety, was an invited speaker at several meetings, andpublished in the American Journal of Sociology (AJS) aswell as other scholarly and popular journals. Two of herbooks (Adams [1902] 1964, [1916] 2002) received favor-able reviews in the AJS (Deegan 1986).

But by 1920, a combination of backlash against socialactivism, the development of social theory to explain thecauses as well as the effects of social problems, and gen-der discrimination marginalized Addams and other womensociologists from regular academic departments into whatwould become schools of social work (Deegan 1986).

If Addams and other social workers charted an inde-pendent course, Seba Eldridge (1885–1953) worked insocial services before discovering sociology. Initiallytrained as a civil engineer, he came to New York Cityaround 1907. He held a part-time position with the Bureauof Advice and Information of the New York CharityOrganization Society investigating and appraising civicand social agencies appealing for aid and occasionallyresided at various East Side settlement houses, becomingfamiliar with the conditions of the people in the neighbor-hoods (Ream 1923; Clark 1953; McCluggage 1955).Eldridge knew of the work of Felix Adler and the EthicalCulture movement. In 1911, he began graduate study atColumbia University in social philosophy and finished hisdissertation under John Dewey in 1925. But he also stud-ied with both Franklin Giddings and William F. Ogburnand learned of their interests in scientific sociology, quan-titative methods, and objectivity. From 1913 to1915, heserved as secretary of the Department of Social Bettermentof the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities.

Eldridge (1915) wrote Problems of Community Life; anOutline of Applied Sociology in which he classified NewYork’s social problems according to the attention giventhem by reformers and the general public along with thegeneral plans that various philanthropies, social reformgroups, and municipal agencies put forward for the betterorganization of reform activities in the city. His sugges-tions for reform were few and emerged from the logic ofthe situations under analysis rather than from partisaninterests (he was politically active on the side of anti-Tammany forces). In 1921, Eldridge joined the sociologyfaculty at the University of Kansas where he remained forthe rest of his life. Much of his subsequent work focusedon methods of improving the quality of citizenship, and hewas well ahead of his time in advocating that socialscience departments should give students actual practice inthe skills of citizenship through participation in commu-nity activities.

Not only was sociology being applied in social welfareand social policy, but it also gained an early toehold inindustry. In January 1914, Henry Ford created a “profitsharing” plan that would pay workers up to $5 a day, whenthe average wage for an unskilled automobile worker was$2.40. The “profit sharing” was not a Taylorist scientific

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management bonus for additional quality work and wasnot directly tied to Ford Motor Company profits. Rather, itdepended on workers maintaining good habits and takingcare of their families and dependants. This was a radicalconcept and challenged the general belief that a sharpincrease in the wages would have a bad effect because theworkers would spend the additional money on drinkingand gambling. Ford, however, wanted every worker to havea comfortable home and be able to own a Ford automobile.To select workers for the program and monitor their behav-ior as well as test this “theory,” he created a “SociologyDepartment” within Ford Motor Company (Loizides andSonnad 2004).

The Department was headed by John R. Lee who wasasked to identify which workers were qualified to partici-pate in the “profit sharing” and then help the others tobecome qualified. This meant gathering information fromthe workers, and occasionally friends or neighbors, ontheir background, family situation, financial state, and per-sonal habits through informal, semistructured interviews.Recorded data included basic demographics; financialinformation, including life insurance and bank name, loca-tion and balance; and health information, including familydoctor and habits such as smoking or drinking. In early1914, investigators and interpreters, selected from amongexisting Ford employees, were highly visible as they droveFord automobiles to the homes of the workers who were tobe interviewed. The result was that 60 percent of the work-ers qualified for the “profit sharing” (Loizides and Sonnad2004).

However, the investigators were aggressive and somequestions were intrusive. In addition, many non-Englishspeaking workers did not qualify, possibly because oftranslation difficulties, and they and their families wereangry. (The cause of these negative reactions would berecalled in the mid-1930s when Ford adamantly opposedunionization). Lee then conducted a second phase, in thespring of 1914, to verify the initial findings and use better-prepared translators. He told the investigators not to gointo a home in a way that they would not want someone tocome into theirs and cautioned them about delving intostrictly personal matters. At the end of this phase, 69 per-cent of the workers were eligible. The company then beganto Americanize its immigrant work force. In May 1914, itopened the Ford Language School, which taught Englishto workers after the first shift. Classes also stressedAmerican ways and customs, encouraged thriftiness, andgood personal and work habits. By the end of 1914, 87 per-cent of the workers qualified for the “profit sharing”(Loizides and Sonnad 2004).

In 1916, Lee left Ford to develop the field of personnelmanagement. Lee (1916) wrote a paper on the Ford profit-sharing system for the Annals of the American Academy ofPolitical and Social Sciences. About 10 years later,Shenton (1927:198) noted in his Practical Application ofSociology that “certain businessmen have already madebeginnings in sociological research and a number are

conducting experiments under the observation of trainedsociologists.”


In 1916, sociology students at the University of SouthernCalifornia started a journal, Studies in Sociology, but inOctober 1921, they changed its name to Journal of AppliedSociology. Alice Fesler (1921) explained that the name wastaken from Ward’s threefold classification of pure sociol-ogy, applied sociology, and social reform. The journal car-ried short pieces by students and well-known sociologists.A 1924 issue included “The Major Ills of the SocialSurvey” by Seba Eldridge, “A Race Relations Survey” byRobert E. Park, and “Social Psychology of Fads” byEmory Bogardus. But in 1927, the JAS was combined withthe Bulletin of Social Research to become Sociology andSocial Research. An editorial note explained that sinceproductive research was the very basis of applied sociol-ogy, the journal would now publish significant pieces ofresearch, although descriptions and analyses of socialproblems and the process, whereby they are reduced andsolved, would still be printed. The journal would combineresearch and practice (Lucas 1927).

World War I marked the beginning of the end for theProgressive Era of social reforms to improve the lives ofworkers and immigrants, to conserve natural resources,and to make government more effective and less corrupt.In the social sciences, the acceptance of statistical thinkingand quantification spurred the emergence of scientificmethods, which in turn supported a growing dominance ofthe academic discipline over practical sociology and socialactivism. Social work was considered to be a techniqueand an art, not a science (Shenton 1927). In contrast,applied sociology was a science that could contribute tothe development of an objective description of social prob-lems and an understanding of their causes (Bossard 1932)and could be used to guide social planning and social engi-neering (Odum 1934). Applied sociology would attempt tokeep an even keel of objective, value-free, social researchamidst cross-currents of political ideology and socialactivism.

In 1916, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, a formerPrinceton professor of political science, supported arequest by the National Academy of Sciences to create aNational Research Council (NRC) to organize researchand secure the cooperation of military and civilian agen-cies as a measure of national preparedness (Cochrane1978). In 1918, after the United States entered the war,Wilson (1918) issued an executive order under which theNRC was

to stimulate research in the mathematical, physical andbiological sciences, and in the application of these sciences toengineering, agriculture, medicine and other useful arts, with


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the object of increasing knowledge, of strengthening thenational defense, and of contributing in other ways to thepublic welfare.

(Social sciences would not be explicitly added untilGeorge H. Bush did so in a January 1993 executive order.)

In 1921, Congress passed the national origins immigra-tion Quota Act that discouraged immigration from easternand southern Europe. The next year, the NRC asked forsocial science representation on a study of human migra-tion (Rhoades 1981). The sociologist member of theCommittee on the Scientific Problems of HumanMigration was Mary Abby van Kleeck, the director of theRussell Sage Foundation’s Department of IndustrialStudies. Van Kleeck was a pioneer in industrial sociology,having conducted studies of unorganized workers andsweatshop labor. Other sociologists who attended a spon-sored conference on migration, included Edith Abbott,Henry Fairchild, William Ogburn, and Robert Park(Wissler 1929).

On taking office in 1929, President Herbert Hooverestablished the President’s Research Committee on SocialTrends in the hope that social issues and problems could bescrutinized in the rational manner that had characterizedhis earlier efforts that reduced domestic consumption offood by 15 percent without rationing during World War Iand his organization of flood relief work and healthimprovement in 1927 (Odum 1933; Volti 2004; HooverArchives 2005). The Rockefeller Foundation funded it forthree years at $560,000, and William F. Ogburn(1886–1950), who coined the phrase “cultural lag,” wasnamed study director (Rhoades 1981). He would also serveas director of the Consumers Advisory Board of theNational Recovery Administration (NRA).

In his 1929 ASS Presidential address, Ogburn (1930)declared that “sociology as a science is not interested inmaking the world a better place in which to live.” On thesurface this appears to be a rejection of Ward’s ameliora-tion and a revival of Sumner’s laissez-faire position. ButOgburn’s main purpose was to ensure that scientific meth-ods would be the basis for applied research and to distanceit from ethics, religion, journalism, and propaganda. LikeWard, he did not believe that the sociologist as scientistshould hold office or lead movements. Ogburn encouragedsociologists to be wherever data on significant social prob-lems were to be found: on the staff of the courts, infactories, at political party headquarters, and in communitycenters. He wanted the sociologist to be there to discovernew knowledge and relationships rather than as an execu-tive, leader, or social worker who puts to use the informa-tion which the scientific sociologist furnishes. He evenpredicted that a great deal of research would be done out-side of universities by government, trade unions, employ-ers’ associations, civic bodies, political parties, and socialservice organizations. Ogburn recognized that thisresearch would be done for a specific purpose to prove aparticular hypothesis or to gain a desired end. He asserted

that to do this, the researchers should be free to follow theevidence and that they therefore must be sharply distin-guished from the executives or policymakers.

This was already happening. The most well-known pri-vate sector applied research began in April 1927 at theWestern Electric Plant in Hawthorne, Illinois. It would cul-minate with the publication of Management and theWorker (Roethlisberger and Dixon 1939), which describedworker behaviors and interactions in the experimentalRelay Assembly Test Room and the Bank WiringObservation Room. A few years later in 1933, J. L.Moreno, in collaboration with Helen Hall Jennings, beganconsulting at the New York State Training School for Girlsin Hudson, New York, where he developed his sociometricsystem and began the Sociometric Review, which wasrenamed Sociometry.

Ogburn also drew an interesting distinction betweensociologists who are research scientists and social engi-neers who, like physicians, are not scientists but who applyreliable scientific procedures and relatively exact knowl-edge. The concept of social engineering was developed byWilliam Tolman ([1909] 2005), who thought that industri-alists should assume more social responsibility for theirworkers and should hire social engineers to be the primaryintermediary between the industrialist and the employees.Andrew Carnegie liked the idea and wrote an introductionto the book. Tolman also advocated that employers becomeinvolved with the workers and their families through pro-grams for social insurance, profit sharing, and savings(Östlund 2003). These ideas may have led Henry Ford toset up the “Sociology Department” to support his “profitsharing” plan and John Lee to leave Ford and start person-nel management.

But the term social engineering was about to take on anominous and decidedly negative connotation. In 1928,Stalin introduced the first Soviet five-year plan, and theThird Reich would soon adopt social engineering and useapplied urban and rural sociology in their plans for thereorganization of an expanded Germany and the expulsionand annihilation of the populations of conquered territories(Klingemann 1992). These developments were noted byseveral American sociologists, including Robert K. Merton(1936), who advocated that scientists repudiate the appli-cation of utilitarian norms and quipped that “an economyof social engineers is no more conceivable or practicablethan an economy of laundrymen” (p. 900).

In 1934, Social Forces asked 23 prominent sociologiststo contribute to a Round Table Symposium to addressquestions such as “What is the role of sociology in currentsocial reconstruction?” Arthur E. Wood (1934) recountedthat Charles Cooley said that in his early days he had thegreatest difficulty in trying to tell his colleagues the differ-ence between sociology and socialism. Borrowing termsfrom William James, Wood then identified three types ofsociologists: (1) the tough minded who are all for objec-tivity but sit on the sidelines when it comes to the hard con-tests over practical issues; (2) the tender minded or welfare

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sociologists who come from a background of religion orsocial work and tinker around the edges without muchknowledge or insight into the nature of the structure whichthey would change; and (3) the radicals, that is, thoseactive in partisan or revolutionary movements, who havean analysis of the social order and a blue print of whatshould be done but whose strength lies in their dogmatismwhich does not qualify them as social scientists. Withoutusing the term applied sociology, Wood concluded thatsociology could use descriptive analysis of social struc-tures and processes involving critical evaluations to guidethe tendencies of social change in the interest of reform.

The issue of the relationship between academic sociol-ogy and applied sociology in its various forms was part ofa five-year struggle within the American SociologicalSociety over what Marklund (2005) calls the scientificdetachment versus political involvement dilemma or asStuart A. Queen (1934), who worked for the American RedCross and the Detroit Community Fund as well as teachingsociology at Kansas and Washington University, put it,“How to steer between the Scylla of academic isolationand the Charybdis of partisan activity.” (p. 207–208).

At the 1931 annual meeting of the AmericanSociological Society, Maurice Parmelee, an early behavior-ist and criminologist, Robert MacIver, and Pitirim Sorokinamong others, distributed a memorandum in which theyclaimed that the programs and publications of the Societywere devoted in considerable part to practical rather than toscientific problems, that as a result the public has theimpression that the Society is a religious, moral, and socialreform organization rather than a scientific society, and thatthe Society has become in large part a society of appliedsociology. To remedy this, they proposed that votingmembers have a higher university degree in sociology andbe engaged in sociological research, writing, and teachingand that the Society assume control of the official journal, atthe time the American Journal of Sociology controlled bythe Chicago Sociology Department (Rhoades 1981).Martindale (1976) interpreted this as a conflict between themore populist and progressive midwestern departments thatwere receptive to Ward’s Comtean view of science as socialreconstruction and the more academically conservative east-ern departments linked to Sumner and Social Darwinism.

In 1934, the Society’s Committee on Scope of Researchreported that New Deal and other social welfare agencieswere using sociological research for the solution of practi-cal problems. It recommended a closer integration of soci-ologists with the sociological work of government, a morecomplete and discriminating canvass of research inprogress and an emphasis on the region as the unit ofresearch because of developments in social planning. Twoyears later, in 1936, the Committee on Opportunities forTrained Sociologists recommended the creation of a newpermanent committee for the promotion of the profes-sional (as opposed to the disciplinary) interests of sociolo-gists. The new committee would get sociological trainingand field experience recognized as a qualification or

substitute qualification for certain Federal and state civilservice positions, expand graduate training in sociology tomeet the need for equipping students for technical posi-tions, and involve sociology in state planning commissionsand the reorganization of state welfare systems, as well aspublicize sociology (Rhoades 1981). The Society, how-ever, did not take up these recommendations. Applied soci-ology was set adrift in stormy seas as the academics optedfor a narrower disciplinary and scientific learned societyand the reformers moved into administrative positions inNew Deal agencies.


Applied sociology received a substantial boost from WorldWar II and then the War on Poverty. In both cases, researchand observations collected in natural settings for appliedpurposes would generate new knowledge and contribute tosociological theories and concepts, as had been called forby Ogburn (1930) in his Society presidential address. Fiftyyears later, Peter Rossi (1980) in his ASA presidentialaddress noted that many pieces of client-initiated appliedwork would, over time, be presented in the sociological lit-erature as primarily basic research.

In November 1941, the War Department established aResearch Branch in the Information and EducationDivision to provide the army command quickly and accu-rately with facts about the attitudes of soldiers. SamuelStouffer (1900–1960) became the director of the TroopAttitude Program and with the assistance of more than 100sociologists, seven of whom would serve as presidents ofthe ASA, conducted more than 200 surveys during the waryears with more than half a million soldiers. Topics cov-ered included practices associated with trench foot, whatarticles were read in Yank Magazine, determining attitudestoward promotion and job assignments in the military, theattitudes of Negro soldiers, and the point system for per-sonnel demobilization after the war (Bowers 1967).

In December 1942, a compendium of troop-attitude stud-ies was published for limited army staff distribution, buteach succeeding issue was more widely distributed, eventu-ally down to the company level. Stouffer saw the researchbranch as doing an engineering job, not a scientific one. Thereports not only emphasized that problems could be treatedat the local command level but also that they were of valuein planning and policy activities, for example, estimates ofthe number of veterans who would go to college if federalaid were provided led to the GI Bill and accurately predictedthe actual postwar experience. Nevertheless Stouffer notedthat the channels of communication between the policymak-ers and the actual study directors in the Branch were oftenvery unsatisfactory and the potential effectiveness in policymaking of some of the research was lost (Bowers 1967).

Stouffer’s applied research efforts, however, wouldmake an impact on sociological theory and methods,


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initially in the four volumes of The American Soldier, andthen in extensive secondary analyses published inContinuities in Social Research: Studies in the Scope andMethods of “The American Soldier” (Merton andLazarsfeld 1950). Chapters by Hans Speier, Edward Shils,Robert Merton, and Alice Kitt (Rossi) supported anddeveloped theories and understandings of primary groups,reference groups, and military organization. Also workingfor the Research Branch was Louis Guttman who madesignificant contributions to attitude research, particularlythe technique, which bears his name, for demonstrating theunidimensionality of scales based on a small number ofitems. Further study of its properties by Lazarsfeld led tolatent content analysis. Finally, a number of sociologists,including John Useem, George C. Homans, Ralph Turner,Morris Janowitz, and Edward Shils used their militaryexperiences in their sociological writings (Bowers 1967).

Applied research was also conducted on the home front.In the fall of 1941, an Office of Facts and Figures was cre-ated in the Office of War Information (OWI) to collect sur-vey data on public attitudes and behavior concerning abroad range of war-related problems, including civilianmorale and the effects of wartime regulations. The OWIneeded a contractor and asked George Gallup who recom-mended Harry H. Field who had worked for him when theywere both in the market research department of the adver-tising firm of Young and Rubicam (Marklund 2005).Through Gallup, Field was introduced to Hadley Cantril,Paul Lazarsfeld, and Samuel Stouffer who helped himestablish the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) atthe University of Denver in the fall of 1941 (NORC wouldmove to the University of Chicago in 1947). NORC got thecontract for the civilian surveys and established a New Yorkoffice in the building used by OWI. Early in 1942, Paul B.Sheatsley, who was working for Gallup at the time, headedthe survey research efforts. Many of the OWI surveys weresimply fact-finding endeavors (how people disposed oftheir waste fats or how they were using their rationcoupons), but others were pioneering efforts such as thefirst national measurement of racial attitudes (NORC 2005)

The OWI employed Paul Lazarsfeld (1901–1976)among others. Lazarsfeld had come to the United States asa Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and served asdirector of the Foundation’s Office of Radio Research,which moved to Columbia University in 1939 and becamethe Bureau of Applied Social Research (BASR) in 1944(now the Lazarsfeld Center for the Social Sciences in theInstitute for Social and Economic Research and Policy).Over the years, Lazarsfeld and his students would conductapplied research for clients that would later contribute tomodern market research, mathematical sociology, andmass communications research (BASR 2005). His work onpersonal influence (Katz and Lazarsfeld 1955) stemmedfrom applied work financed by a magazine publisher toconvince would be advertisers that placing ads in themagazine would reach opinion leaders, and a BASR studyfor a pharmaceutical company on the adoption of a new

drug revealed the roles played by professional and socialties among physicians (Coleman, Katz, and Menzel 1966).In 1983, three of Lazarsfeld’s former students would be thedirectors of social research for the three major networks:CBS, ABC, and NBC (Sills 1987).

Just before the war, the U.S. Department of Agricultureappointed Rensis Likert (1903–1981) director of theDivision of Program Surveys in Bureau of AgriculturalEconomics. Likert had already developed his five-pointscale and taught at New York University before becomingdirector of research for the Life Insurance Agency inHartford, Connecticut, in 1935, where he conducted stud-ies on the effectiveness of different styles of supervision.During the war, Likert and his colleagues conducted sur-veys of farmer’s experiences and opinions. At the end ofthe war, Likert contacted Theodore M. Newcomb, who hadworked with him during the war. Together they formed theSurvey Research Center (SRC) at the University ofMichigan to conduct publishable studies for businesses,foundations, governmental and other agencies on all kindsof economic, social, and business problems.

To complement the survey focus, Likert suggested thatthe Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD), then atthe Massachusetts Institute of Technology, join SRC toform the Institute for Social Research (ISR) in 1948. TheRCGD was founded by Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) and thenheaded by Dorwin Cartwright who had worked with Likertin the Division of Program Surveys. Likert had served onthe Committee on Food Habits of the National ResearchCouncil, which funded Lewin’s experiments demonstrat-ing that food shoppers were more likely to change theirbuying habits as a result of a discussion followed by apublic commitment than after a lecture by an expert. Thisled to his field theory involving food channels and the con-cept of gatekeepers (Wansink 2002). Lewin used the termaction research and intended his research to result in guid-ing the actions needed to solve social problems, reducingthe gap between social science knowledge and the use ofthat knowledge.

Early SRC research included an objective evaluation ofa program to encourage acceptance of minority groupswithin the United Autoworkers Union and a study ofmorale at a telephone company that led to improved pro-ductivity and job satisfaction. RCGD and the TavistockInstitute in London jointly published the journal HumanRelations. In New Patterns of Management, Likert (1961)summarized the principles and practices used by highestproducing managers and proposed a more effective systemof management.

By 1960, these and other university-based socialresearch centers were producing empirical findings thathad a considerable impact on sociological theories, meth-ods, and concepts. In 1961, the Society for the Study ofSocial Problems under the leadership of Alvin Gouldnerfocused its meeting on the topic of applied social scienceand major papers were published in Applied Sociology:Opportunities and Problems (Gouldner and Miller 1965).

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The papers explored practitioner-client relations and casestudies in a variety of areas, including law, family, com-munity, race relations, and delinquency. Years later,coeditor S. M. Miller (2001) revealed that he regretted theuse of the term applied sociology because it was highlyambiguous—did it refer to sociologists employed outsideacademia, to academic sociologists who did studies fornonprofit and voluntary organizations whether paid for ornot, to social activists or to public policy critics andintellectuals?—and because he saw little linkage betweenapplied work and sociological study.

When Paul Lazarsfeld was elected ASA president, heproposed that the theme for the 1962 meetings be“Sociology in Action” or “Applied Sociology” to highlightthe contribution of applied and case studies to theoreticaland methodological advances. The ASA ExecutiveCouncil, however, changed it to “Uses of Sociology,”which also became the title of an edited volume of 31invited papers. The term uses went beyond applied sociol-ogy to encompass where and to what extent sociologicalfindings and perspectives were used by professionals, busi-nesses, voluntary agencies, the military, schools, andpublic bodies. Authors were asked to address the difficul-ties of translating practical issues into research problemsand to discuss the intellectual gaps between research find-ings and advice for action (Lazarsfeld, Sewell, andWilensky 1967:x). According to Gollin (1983:444), mostauthors had problems doing the latter—that is, identifyingconcrete applications of sociological ideas or findings.

In a provocative essay, Robert C. Angell (1967:737)raised some ethical issues concerning applied research. Heworried that since such research is used to further the prac-tical ends of business, voluntary associations, or govern-ment, it would take only a slight distortion in the samplingprocedure or in the phrasing of questions to obtain findingsdesired by the client. Because they do not have the highcalling of developing abstract scientific knowledge, heargued that the applied researcher cannot claim the specialprivileges that are sometimes enjoyed by those who do.For example, while it may be sometimes ethical to deceivesubjects for the purpose of obtaining important new scien-tific knowledge, provided they are later debriefed, this jus-tification cannot, in Angell’s opinion, be used for appliedresearch because the ends are not scientific ones.

These edited volumes on applied sociology writtenfrom the perspective of disciplinary sociology, however,failed to take the wind out of the sails. In fact, in his ASApresidential address, Rossi (1980) noted that from 1960 to1980 applied social research enjoyed a boom period inwhich sociology, as a discipline, had not really shared.Essentially the War on Poverty generated large-scaleapplied research involving needs assessments for programplanning, demonstration and pilot services, and programevaluations, which were risky, controversial, and could noteasily be translated into academic publications. Dentler(2002) estimated that, from 1960 to 1975, approximately100 social science research and development firms were

established, a third of which were located in theWashington, D.C., suburbs. Finally several specializedapplied social research centers were created, such as theDisaster Research Center at the Ohio State University in1963, now at the University of Delaware.

In 1964, the U.S. Office of Education commissionedJames S. Coleman to determine how educational opportu-nity, defined as condition of school buildings, trainedteachers, and curricula, were distributed by race and eth-nicity. The Report, Equality of Educational Opportunity(Coleman et al. 1966), which studied all 3rd-, 6th-, 9th-,and 12th-grade students in 4,000 schools, not only docu-mented the pervasiveness of segregation in the schools butwent beyond the rather narrow Congressional mandate toexplore how parental education and social status as well aspeer pressures effected student achievement (Rossi 1980;Rossi and Whyte 1983; Dentler 2002). If the findings werecontroversial, the subsequent implementation of mandatedbussing and the flight of white families from city schoolswere even more so. Coleman (1976), who originally sup-ported school integration, changed his mind in the 1970swhen he concluded that the policies that focused wholly onwithin-district bussing actually increased rather thanreduced school segregation.

The Coleman Report (Coleman et al. 1966) belies theargument that doing applied research for governmentagencies substantially limits intellectual and political inde-pendence and that applied researchers are at the beck andcall of decision makers and policy implementers (Dentler2002). Rossi (1980) pointed out that the applied researchercould negotiate and in some cases broaden the scope of thestudy to include sociological variables and factors. On theother hand, it also illustrates Rossi’s points that appliedsocial research may be used in policy formation andbecome embroiled in rancorous controversy in which thework is attacked, misused, or misapplied, and that sociolo-gists are ordinarily not directly involved in decision mak-ing, policy formation, or program implementation. LikeWard and Ogburn before him, Rossi warned that appliedsocial research is not for would-be philosopher kings.

During this time, studies continued to bridge the gapbetween pure and applied research. For example, BenjaminBloom’s (1964) work on stability of IQ during early child-hood later provided Head Start with data on where best tointervene with compensatory preschool educational programs,William Sewell’s study (Sewell, Hauser, and Featherman1976) on status attainment began as a state-sponsored sur-vey of Wisconsin high school seniors, and Rosabeth MossKanter (1977, 1983) published her own research on corpo-rations for a broader audience.


The late 1970s witnessed an increase in the production ofM.A. and Ph.D. sociologists at a time when sociology


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departments were not hiring (Koppel 1993). A largenumber of new sociologists took positions outside acade-mia in professional schools and in research units in gov-ernment agencies, nonprofit organizations, and privateconsulting firms. Many wanted to present and publish theirfindings in sociological venues.

In the late 1960s, Alex Boros (1931–1996) establishedwhat is believed to be the first graduate program in appliedsociology at Kent State University. In 1978, a dinner con-versation about the lack of applied sessions at the NorthCentral Sociological Association (NCSA) meetings led tothe formation of the Society for Applied Sociology (SAS;Steele and Iutcovich 1997). In 1979, SAS held sessions inconjunction with the NCSA. SAS was formally incorpo-rated in 1984 with Boros as the first president, and it beganpublishing the Journal of Applied Sociology. In 1994, SASapproved a code of ethics for Applied Sociologists. Overthe years, the presidency of SAS has been fairly evenlydivided between applied sociologists who worked in acad-emic institutions and those who either owned their ownconsulting firms or were employed by governmental, non-profit, or business entities.

The late 1970s also saw the creation of the ClinicalSociological Association (renamed Sociological PracticeAssociation) and the ASA Section on SociologicalPractice. Then, in 1980, Peter Rossi became ASA presi-dent followed the next year by William Foote Whyte, bothof whom considered themselves applied sociologists. AnASA Committee on Professional Opportunities in AppliedSociology, chaired by Howard Freeman, held a workshopin December 1981 titled “Directions in AppliedSociology.” The papers presented were published inApplied Sociology (Freeman et al. 1983) and explored thethen current status of applied sociology, the range ofapplied sociology roles in diverse settings, and the acade-mic training of applied sociologists (Rosich 2005).

ASA also started a journal, the Sociological PracticeReview, to provide a discipline sponsored publication forapplied, clinical, and practicing sociologists, and to dis-seminate knowledge on how sociology can be applied topractical problems. Reviewed in 1992 during its third year,it was found to have had difficulty attracting sufficientmanuscripts along with falling subscriptions. Despiteopposition by the majority of editors of other ASA jour-nals, the publications committee, by one vote, recom-mended that it be supported for another three years. TheExecutive Office and Budget Committee, however, recom-mended discontinuance and the ASA Council agreed(Dentler 1992; K. G. Edwards, personal communicationfrom ASA Director of Publications, June 28, 2005).

In 1991, ASA was awarded funds to establish theSydney S. Spivak Program in Applied Social Research andSocial Policy with the purpose of enhancing the visibility,prestige, and centrality of applied social research and theapplication of sociological knowledge to social policy. TheProgram supported a Congressional Fellowship and policybriefings by sociologists on topics such as HIV/AIDS,

youth violence, immigrants, and reactions to terrorism. Italso offered Community Action Fellowships of up to$2,500 to cover direct costs of sociologists working withcommunity groups to conduct needs assessments, evalua-tion studies, and empirical research of community activi-ties and planning, or to produce an analytical literaturereview to address the community group’s goals (Rosich2005).

The introduction to the Uses of Sociology (Lazarsfeld et al. 1967:xxii) noted that a Ph.D. in sociology did notreally train students for employment outside academia. Itasked what type of professional training would be needed,what role university research bureaus, centers and insti-tutes would play, and whether sociologists should createprograms within departments or separate schools of socialresearch. Freeman and Rossi (1984) proposed that somedepartments having appropriately trained and motivatedfaculty, add applied training as an option for their graduateand undergraduate students. Such a program would pro-vide a solid general grounding in the history, currenttrends, theories, and range of research methods in sociol-ogy, with additional practical and pragmatic skills of howto administer sample surveys and field research, how toselect and work with a survey research organization ortrain others to collect data, and how to write a response toa request for proposals as opposed to a journal article.

In her SAS Presidential address, Jeanne Ballantine(1991) reported on a study of where sociology majors wereemployed after graduation, what employers were seeking,and what undergraduate applied programs were providing.She found a variety of efforts ranging from one or twocourses, to an internship or field experience, to a completetrack or concentration. The demand for training generateda set of texts and supplements by Sullivan (1992), Steele,Scarisbrick-Hauser, and Hauser (1999), Du Bois andWright (2001), Dentler (2002), Straus (2002), Steele andPrice (2003), and Dukes, Petersen, and Van Valey (2004).

SAS president Stephen Steele conducted a needsassessment survey of SAS members in 1992 and found aninterest in strengthening training programs at the graduateand undergraduate levels. He appointed Harry Perlstadt topursue this. In 1995, with the support of Joyce Iutcovich,SAS President and David Kallen, president of theSociological Practice Association (SPA), they formed theCommission on Applied and Clinical Sociology (Perlstadt1995, 1998). The commission created standards for under-graduate and graduate programs (CACS 2005) and, by2005, had accredited three undergraduate programs (St.Cloud State, Minnesota; Our Lady of the Lake, Texas; andValdosta State, Georgia) and two masters level graduateprograms (Humboldt State, California and Valdosta State,Georgia). Accreditation standards help programs providequality training with adequate resources and theCommission itself serves as a clearinghouse for theprograms.

In August 2000, SAS and SPA met together inWashington, D.C., with the theme Unity 2000. Both

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recognized they were small and could benefit fromcombining their resources and efforts. As the result of hardwork by, among others, Ross Koppel and Joan Biddle ofSPA and Augie Diana and Jay Weinstein of SAS, the twogroups merged in 2005 to become the Association forApplied and Clinical Sociology (AACS), with a combinedjournal.

Since 1970, many Ph.D. sociologists have conductedapplied research in a variety of settings. A 1995 NationalScience Foundation survey of Ph.D. sociologists foundthat less than half (45.8 percent) of all sociologists taughtsociology at the postsecondary level and 27.1 percent of allPh.D. sociologists were employed outside educationalinstitutions (Dotzler and Koppel 1999). Unfortunately,only a few Ph.D. sociologists can be mentioned here.Michael Quinn Patton, one of the leading experts in evalu-ation research, wrote Utilization-Focused Evaluation(Patton 1997) and was president of the AmericanEvaluation Association. Terence C. Halliday is a SeniorResearch Fellow at the American Bar Foundation andPresident of the National Institute for Social ScienceInformation. He helped found and was chair of the ASASociology of Law section and served as editor of the inter-disciplinary journal Law and Social Inquiry. Lola JeanKozak, with the job title of health statistician/senior healthresearcher in the National Center for Health Statistics,Centers of Disease Control, has done applied research onavoidable hospitalizations that has affected the Centers forMedicare and Medicaid Services (Kozak, Hall, andOwings 2001). Sociologist William W. Darrow was thesole nonmedical scientist on the CDC Task Force in theearly 1980s that did the initial investigations of what wouldbe identified as the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Darrow et al.1987; Lui, Darrow, and Rutherford 1988).


Over the years, applied sociology has bridged sociologicaltheory and sociological practice, bringing theory and ideasto professional practitioners and decision makers while, inreturn, contributing to the knowledge base of sociology asa science and discipline. To some extent, the history ofapplied sociology has been embroiled in what AndrewAbbott (1988) would identify as clarifications and disputesover jurisdictions between the academic discipline and thepractice of the profession. Applied sociology has tried tosteer clear of entanglements with social philosophy and

ethics, on the one hand, and social engineering, reform,and activism on the other. But the very nature of appliedsociology, and the interests of those who choose to do it,will mean that such jurisdictional tensions will continuewell into the twenty-first century as they have for the past150 years.

But the demand for applied sociology is not likely toslacken. The U.S. government has been commissioningsocial surveys and studies for over a century, and at thebeginning of the twenty-first century, the NIH and NIMHroadmaps for research continue to look to and fund theapplied side of the social and behavioral sciences. AsOgburn (1930) predicted, business, labor, community, andnonprofit service organizations all have a need for reliableand accurate data, needs assessments, and evaluations thatapplied sociology can provide. Evidence-based decisionmaking and accountability will continue to be stressed as arational necessity. Of course, decision makers and admin-istrators will highlight those findings that meet their endsand ignore those that do not. In a few instances, appliedfindings will, unfortunately, be used for nefarious purposesas they were by the Soviets and Nazis.

Although the primary focus of ASA will remain onbasic research and academic positions, applied sociologywill continue to be recognized as a specialty/derivativefield. The newly formed Association for Applied andClinical Sociology may professionalize sociology bybringing more practitioners into contact with disciplinarysociology, thereby following a pattern that already exists ineconomics, psychology, and political science. This may bestrengthened as more departments develop appliedresearch and sociological practice training programs at theundergraduate and graduate levels in response to societaldemands. This would be accelerated if these departmentsconsciously pursued their common educational intereststhrough the Commission on Applied and ClinicalSociology.

Applied sociology is very resilient. The term has sur-vived for more than a hundred years despite vague defini-tions and attempts to ignore or replace it. While sociologyas a discipline and perspective may have increasing diffi-culties being appreciated in a culture of expanding indi-vidualism, personal liberty, and self-actualization, people,and especially social organizations and government agen-cies, will need to choose wisely on the basis of evidence.The heart of applied sociology is social research, and aslong as decision makers want to know the social facts andpeople are trained to provide them, applied sociology willflourish.


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