Title

Influence and canonical supremacy: An analysis of how George Herbert Mead demoted Charles Horton Cooley in the sociological canon

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Abstract

This analysis assesses the factors underlying Charles Horton Cooley's place in the sociological canon as they relate to George Herbert Mead's puzzling diatribe—echoed in secondary accounts—against Cooley's social psychology and view of the self published scarcely a year after his death. The illocutionary act of publishing his critique stands as an effort to project the image of Mead's intellectual self and enhance his standing among sociologists within and outside the orbit of the University of Chicago. It expressed Mead's ambivalence toward his precursor Cooley, whose influence he never fully acknowledged. In addition, it typifies the contending fractal distinctions of the scientifically discursive versus literary styles of Mead and Cooley, who both founded the interpretive sociological tradition. The contrasting styles and attitudes toward writing of the two figures are discussed, and their implications for the problems of scale that have stymied the symbolic interactionist tradition are explored.

Publisher

In Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, published by Wiley-Blackwell.