A critical analysis of selected sociological writings in the field of race relations

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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Sociology The University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Sociology

by Nancybelle Mort June 1950

UMI Number: EP65686

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.Dlsswratton Rubli h*ng

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T h is thesis, w r i t t e n by

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by a l l

F a c u l t y C o m m itte e , its

m em bers,



presented to a n d accepted by the C o u n c il on G r a d u a t e S tu d y a n d R e s e a rc h in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­ m e n t o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f

____________ Majafcjar._J3lLJLr.ks______________


Faculty Committee

Dedicated to my parents who made this study possible



THE PROBLEM AND METHOD OF THE STUDY................ 1 The problem.


Statement of the problem....................... 1 Importance of the study..........


Method of the study. .......


Limitations of the study....................... 3 Definition of concepts used.................... 4 Method of analysis...... II.


THE WRITINGS OF GUNNAR. MYKDAL...................... 7 Background.



Contributions................ •.................. 9 III.



Contributions. IV.










42 ....


43 52





THE WRITINGS OF EDWARD FRANKLINFRAZIER............ 61 Background. .... Contributions.....

61 .62




ODUM........... 72

Background...... ............................. 72 Contributions..................................73 VIII. THE WRITINGS OP ROBERT MORRISONMACIVER........... 82 Background...... ..................... ........ 82 Contributions.

........................... 83

1 IX. CONCLUSIONS .. ................................... 93 Summary....................................


Recommendations................................98 BIBLIOGRAPHY......................................... .101


But in the time of change, a rare Illumination fills the air, There is a shift, a holy pause Between what Is and what once was. The senses quicken with delight;■ The scene grows pure upon the sight. Our fixity Is lost; the eyes Look out with passionless surprise, And In that instant we may see The shape of an eternity.


Theodore Roethke, "In the Time of Change," quoted In Ruth Smith, White Man1s Burden:~ a personal testament (hew York: The Vanguard Press, 1946*7> p. 63.


■ THE -PROBLEM 'AND METHOD OF THE STUDY Throughout history the social problem of race relations

has been one of major importance.

Repeated inter-racial and

Inter-group conflicts have made quite clear the issues at hand and the need for some sort of solution. The sociologist, with his prevailing interest in the group, has attempted various ways and means to study the pro­ cesses involved in racial interaction.

In some instances,

hypotheses have been set up'to advance further study in the field of racial problems.

Some sociologists have done much

to clarify the confused theory of race relations, principally by defining concepts and the corresponding social situation. Others, by actual participation, have done much to achieve harmonious inter-group relationships, or have instigated re­ search* pro jects .

In this connection sociologists have-pre­

sented diversified viewpoints in their respective writings. A few have attained the•status of; a leader in this field, while others have remained obscure. • I.- THE PROBLEM Statement of the problem.

It was the purpose of this

study (1) to present the approach and solutions of racial conscious sociologists; (2) to critically analyze these

viewpoints; (3) to summarize the obtained, results; (4) to. analytically contrast the different solutions; and (5) to recommend a future course of research.


The importance of the study. Race relations is being increasingly stressed as a discipline in sociology.


this may be accounted for in■part by an accentuation of race consciousness in the minds of people.

Since World War II

attempts have been made to obviate some of the tenseness -that exists between groups, whether it be in America or in other countries.

Within the past ten years there have been more

conversations, books, articles written,.and more legislative action towards this goal than ever before.

It is felt that

peace between groups cannot be achieved in the world-at-iarge until it has been achieved within every primary and secondary group with which an individual comes into contact. The importance of this study would be to synthesize .the contributions of the selected sociologists in order to more clearly visualize the present trend.

Sociologists, as precur­

sors in this field, need a composite working knowledge of other men's contributions.

The amount of social change that

can be witnessed today is an index to the extent and scope of the problem.



It is apparent that no political adjustment in the way of- a coalition, sectional grouping, or international league of nations has the slightest chance of success if the race

problem is left dangling or is bypassed*

This over-riding

question which merges with that of the economic and social organization of the world, no longer can be restricted to* the. shadows of hushed private discussion.^ II. METHOD OF THE STUDY Limitations of the study *

Since it was impossible to

include all the sociologists who. have written in-the field of race problems, seven men, now living, were selected on the basis of their leadership in this field*

Therefore, such a

man as Robert Ezra Park, who is recognized as a pioneer in the field of race, was not included because of his death a few years ago.

Park*s influence on the research on the Hegro

problem has been great and direct, as so many of the contem­ porary students of this problem were his students, or look to his theories for guidance. It was not the purpose of this study to criticize the writings of the selected sociologists as to their use.or non­ use of concepts such as race, but it was of significance for future research to review the various approaches and solutions presented to answer the racial problem.

Selection of the so­

ciologists was made on the basis that each represented a par-


■ ^ "William B. Ziff, The Gentlemen Talk of Peace (Hew The Macmillan Company, 1944), Chapter XVI.

ticular'method of treatment now being advocated by various so­ cial groups in- the country.

A more detailed chapter was de­

voted to Myrdal because of the comprehensiveness of his study. ' Definition of concepts used. Throughout the study such concepts as racial conflict, race. .prejudice, accommodation, and assimilation occur.

According to .Fairchild,-race con­

flict is defined as: Conflict between two groups of different race, motivated' primarily*, by race consciousness. Probably a rare phenom­ ena and difficult to identify, because true racial mo­ tives are almost invariably associated with, and to some extent obscured by, other group feelings.2 Again according to Fairchild, race prejudice is: ...an antipathetical attitude toward an individual or a group predicated upon traits or characteristics which are, or are erroneously believed to be, racial in origin,, but without any adequate foundation in fact or experietial acquaintance. A common form of stereotype r e s p o n s e . ^ Race consciousness is the awareness of differences in racial groups that isolate the members .of the group, and "the sense of belonging together consequent upon the exclusion."^ According to Park, and Burgess, accommodation is the "process by which the individuals and groups make the necesp


Fairchild, editor, Dictionary,of Sociology (New York: Philosophical Library, 19.44) p. 246. 3 dLoc . ciu. /. 4 ■Edward B. Reuter, Handbook of Sociology (Hew / York: The Dryden Press, 1941), p. 149.

5 sary internal adjustments to social situations which have ■ been created by competition and conflict.51®

All the social

heritages, traditions, sentiments, culture, and technique, are accommodations, that is, "acquired adjustments that are socially and not biologically t r a n s m i t t e d . ■'Assimilationis "a process of -interpenetration and fusion in which per­ sons and- groups acquire the memories, sentiment’s, and atti­ tudes of other persons and groups, and by sharing their ex­ perience and history, are incorporated with them in a com­ mon cultural life.”17 Social contact initiates interaction and assimilation is its final perfect product. In accommodation the process is typically conscious; in assimilation the process is typically unconscious.® The method of analysis♦

in studying the contributions ■

of the selected sociologists to race relations, library re­ search was utilized. provided a -body

A review of the available literature

of pertinent factsthat

mulating policies,

couldbe used in for­

and indescribingthe meansavailable


5 Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess, Introduction to the Science of Sociology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1924), p. 509. 6

Ibid., p. 664 . .

^ Ibid.,

p. 735.

8 Ibid.,

p. 736.




reach the objectives decided upon.

The method of analysis

was to show background as a.'.frame of reference and a discus sion of as many facets' as possible of the race problem that the writer covered.



Myrdal is the outstanding social-economist in Sweden and at present is Executive Secretary of the United Rations Economic Commission .for Europe.

‘His writings in the field of

American race relations came about as a result of a search on the part of the Carnegie Corporation of Hew-York for a schol­ ar to direct a study of the American Negro "in a wholly ob­ jective and dispassionate way as a social phenomena."

He was

chosen as a competent man. from a country without a'background of imperialism and preconceptions. I.


■Karl Gunnar Myrdal was born December 6, 1898 in Gustaf Parish, Dalecarlia region, Sweden.. At the age of twenty-nine he was appointed docent in political economy at Stockholm University after receiving a doctorate of laws in economics, and soon after publication of a book on the theory of prices.^ As a young economist he visited England, Germany and France (1925-1929); during the academic year 1929-1930 he traveled1in the United States on a Rockefeller Fellowship; and in 1930-1931 he was in Switzerland as associate professor


Current Biography, September, 1946, pp. 423-425

in the Post-Graduate Institute of International Studies at . Geneva* .In 1933, he was appointed to the Lars *Hierta chair of Political Economy and Public Finance at Stockholm Univer­ sity.

During the economic instability o f .the thirties, he

was active in public affairs, trying what he calls "voluntary redirecting and coordinating human and natural re source s in order to increase the common good." " Although denying either that Sweden has solved all her social .problems, such as pov­ erty and poor housing, or that there Is anything "particularly Swedish" about the nation1s economic system, Myrdal has writ­ ten:

"We investigate our shortcoming intensively, and use the

technique of social engineering to plan for their removal..." Rationally induced change, and the planning for it, are "the dynamics of a properly functioning democracy."

This econo­

mist had a chance to put some of his ideas on economic and population policy into direct practice as a deputy member of the board of the National Bank of Sweden, and in 1936-1939, as a Social Democratic member of the Senate.2 Beginning in September, 1938, Gunnar Myrdal directed.the study of the American Negro, under the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Alva Myrdal investigated social and educational problems.. : After the German invasion of Norway and Denmark in April, 1940, Myrdal felt it his duty to return to his country, which remained neutral in the conflict*

There he served on

9 the Commission which worked out a new budgetary system for the national Government, based on the premise that, in Sweden, "depressions are only temporary setbacks in a rising trend of production and national income."

In Sweden, the Myrdals wrote

their best selling Contact with America. Describing United States folkways and institutions, the book was written:, commented Myrdal, "...in order' to remind the Scandinavian nations in their days of ordeal of the great democratic power reserve of the then still neutral United States."3 After much travelling back and forth, in October of 1942, Myrdal resumed'his teaching at the University of Stockholm and in 1944, he was appointed chairman of the Swedish Post-war Economic Planning Commission-. In 1944, too, the Carnegie Corporation published Myr­ dal1s report and conclusion,,,An American Dilemma; the Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, which sociologist Robert Lynd called "the most penetrating and important book on our con­ temporary American civilization that has ever been written." II.


Describing in detail the situation of Negroe,s in the United States, .Myrdal jsaid that the American dilemma was the • conflict between the-moral creed of brotherhood, equality, and freedom which he considered Americans genuinely desire to g

Loc. cit.

live by, and the valuations on specific, planes of individual and group living, where personal and .local interests; econom­ ic, social, and sexual jealousies; considerations of communi­ ty prestige and conformity; group prejudices against partic­ ular persons or types of peoples; and all sorts of miscella­ neous, wants, impulses, and habits dominate this outlook.


the author’s view, the Negroes* problem was the sharpest focus point of this general moral *problem, and therefore im­ possible to consider in isolation.

His thesis that the in­

justices he details constitute ”a moral lag in the development of the nation,” has been attacked by psychologist Leo Crepi of Princeton University, who considers that the solution lies not in Individual change of heart but that ”the remedies are, social and economic planning which will remove the gain from prejudice,” a statement which the author considers /'not In conflict” with his thesis. Although Myrdal Is Sweden’s most important social econ­ omist he Is referred to by the Hew York Herald Tribune as Sweden’s leading authority on American affairs.

Time maga­

zine calls him, ’’The Ho. 1 authority on United'States Negroes. The tone of Myrdal’s theme is stated In his introduc­ tion to An American Dilemma. .The American'Uegro problem. Is. not only the most serious problem In America, but the complete Interracial problem Is focused here.

This Is the central

viewpoint of his study. ' Although It Includes economic, social


and political race relations, at bottom the problem is the moral dilemma of the American, the conflict between this moral valuations on various levels of consciousness and gen­ erality. The American Dilemma, referred to -in the title of this book, is the ever-raging conflict between, on the one hand, the valuations preserved on the general plane which we shall call the "American Creed"-, where.the American thinks, talks, and- acts under the influence 'of high na: tional and Christian precepts, and, on the other hand, the valuations on specific planes of individual and group living... .. Myrdal, and his staff of researchers, approached the Negro problem so as "to ascertain social reality as it is." The problem was to be viewed completely from the social, eco­ nomic, statistical factors obtainable. however, to stop there.

The study was not,

"We must go further and attempt to

discover and dissect the doctrines and idealogies, valuations and beliefs, embedded in the minds of white and Negro Ameri­ cans,"

They would attempt to remember throughout the inquiry

that material facts in large measure are the product of what people think, feel and believe.

The actual conditions, as

they are, indicate from this point of vie?/ the great aspira­ tions and realizations.

The interrelations between the ma­

terial facts and people’s valuations of and beliefs about

G-unnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma; the Negro Prob­ lem and Modern Demoeracy~TNew York: Harper & Brothers Pub­ lishers, 1944J,"pY xlvii.


these facts are precisely what make the Negro a social prob­ lem.5 The early history of slavery in the United States is completely bound up with the economy of the fledgling coun­ try.

It is significant, that such terms as slaves- and slav­

ery were avoided in the framing of our.first legal documents. The pattern, quite naturally, fluctuated as the economic pat­ tern of the country changed.

In very early times Negroes and

indentured servants were on the same par; hut gradually *this "' picture changed, indentured persons were allowed to work out their own bondage.

In the first two decades of the nineteenth

century, the Abolitionist movement was as strong in the South as in the North.

It was an economic change, the gradual in­

dustrialization of cotton through mechanical invention that brought up the price of slaves and created a potential market for this particular trade.

Industrialization has been the

‘most frequent crutch, upon which to hang‘abuse'and social lag. So it was with the fate of the Negro.

Again it has been in­

dustrialization that has changed and is changing this picture. Great liberalism attended the thoughts of the South dur­ ing these early years, but from 1830 and for some thirty years there was a definite .swing to the ’’protective" attitude of conservatism. 5

The pro-slavery theory of the "ante-bellum'

Ibid., p. xlix.

13 South is basic to certain ideas, attitudes, and policies prev­ alent in all fields of human relations even at the present time. ' The central theme in the Southern theory is the moral and political dictum that slavery did not violate the *higher law*,' that it was condoned by the Bible and. by the flaws of natureT and that !free society1, in contrast, was a viola­ tion of those laws.-



As the conflict between the North and the South drew nearer, the churchmen, writers, and statesmen of the South came, out against the principle of equality as formulated by the Declaration of Independence.

The feeling grew that this prin­

ciple came to be a set of empty generalities and meaningless abstractions.

Common experience and everday observation sho\