UMass Amherst Sociology

UMass Amherst Sociology Undergraduate majors in Sociology at UMass This is the dedicated page for the Department of Sociology at UMass Amherst. It is for current undergrads, grads, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of the department and the social sciences.

The first sociology course at the University of Massachusetts was taught in 1908 by Kenyon Leech Butterfield, President of the university from 1906 through 1924. Butterfield came to the university, then the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), after a brief stint as President of the Rhode Island Agricultural College and with an established commitment to sociology. His undergraduate (BA, Michigan) and graduate degrees (PhD, MAC) were in rural sociology, and he brought with him a nearly messianic passion to improve the lives of the then-widely impoverished small family farmers and rural workers. His first course was titled "The Rural Community," and its progressive leanings were hinted at in the course description. Among the topics covered were "the present social conditions of farm people", and "social class and social status of the rural population." At the time, MAC had a total enrollment of exactly 239 men and 2 women. Shortly after this initial offering, in 1909, Butterfield instituted a completely new unit he named the Division of Social Science, centered around the departments of rural sociology and agricultural economics. From its inception, the Division of Social Science was a self-consciously uplifting and progressive enterprise. Many of the courses were explicitly dedicated to improving the lot of rural workers and small farmers. By the early 1920s, as many as eight undergraduate courses in rural sociology were being offered each semester, including such staples as "Rural Village and Town Sociology," "Rural Government," and "Rural Organization." Major topics in these three courses included the forming of class consciousness, criticism and evaluation of plans for improvement, and political institutions and rural betterment. Within 10 years of the first sociology course, the Division of Social Science was offering both an MA and a PhD in sociology. The first UMass MA degree in sociology was awarded in 1921 to Aaron Smith and the first PhD in 1932 to Ezra Morgan. In addition to Butterfield, faculty before WWI included professors Newell Sims, James Cutler, John Phelan, Joseph Novitski, and John Skinner. Like Butterfield, all were activists in the progressive movement. The modern era of sociology at UMass began with Henry Korson’s arrival from Yale in 1944. At this time, the university still had fewer than 1,000 students. Korson became the head and only member of a new freestanding UMass Department of Sociology. Within a few years John Manfredi, Edwin Driver, and T.O. Wilkinson joined Korson, and these four formed the core of the department until the explosive growth of sociology that began in the early 1960s. Between 1963 and 1974, faculty size increased from 10 to 31, including a number of people who were already or became distinguished scholars. Among these were Milton Gordon, Lewis Killian, Charles Page, Alice Rossi, and Peter Rossi, Hans Speier, William J. Wilson, and Jay Demerath, who came from Wisconsin as chairperson. Under the directorship of Doug Anderton, the Department’s Social and Demographic Research Institute (SADRI) continues on the path blazed by Pete Rossi, and even earlier by Butterfield, with the mandate to carry out empirical and applied policy research on issues of broad public concern (see The Demerath era was capped in 1983 when the National Research Council report on graduate programs ranked UMass sociology 18th in the nation, eleventh among public universities. UMass sociology remains tied to our progressive origins, blending the tools of contemporary sociological research with our historical legacy.

- Brief history of the department as told by former long-term chair, Randall Stokes

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Amherst, MA

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Hi everyone! I'm doing a basic survey for a sociology class at umass, and I would love your input! If you have or had a dog at one point, take 1 minute to do this brief survey!
From Gender & Society blog. In the shifting sands of gender and fathering, how do sons experience their fathers - and their own masculinity? What does race have to do with it? Five UMass Amherst sociologists tackle gendered social reproduction. Might also interest UMass Amherst Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department (X-post)