Beyond drink, drainage and divorce? What the Sociological Society did for British sociology

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This article improves upon our current understanding of the Sociological Society’s contributions to the development of sociology in Britain. It challenges the assessment of the Society’s legacy made by Philip Abrams in 1968 and the more recent conclusions reached by scholars who contributed to a debate published in The Sociological Review in 2007. The article is built on original findings garnered from empirical research undertaken at The Sociological Review’s archives in Keele. It shows that, despite achieving some results in its attempts to introduce a particular type of sociology into Britain, the influence of the Society in establishing, both institutionally and intellectually, a sociological tradition was largely unsuccessful. A limited legacy, however, does not mean that the history of the Society is of little importance in the history of sociology in this country; on the contrary, as this article attempts to highlight, the Society deserves a critical examination precisely because of its limited legacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1227
Number of pages16
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number6
Early online date29 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Auguste Comte
  • British sociology
  • history
  • James Martin White
  • L. T. Hobhouse
  • Patrick Geddes
  • Sociological Review
  • Sociological Society
  • Victor Branford


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