A highly readable introduction to and overview of the postwar social sciences in the United States, The Americanization of Social Science explores a critical period in the evolution of American sociology’s professional identity from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. David Paul Haney contends that during this time leading sociologists encouraged a professional secession from public engagement in the name of establishing the discipline’s scientific integrity.
According to Haney, influential practitioners encouraged a willful withdrawal from public sociology by separating their professional work from public life. He argues that this separation diminished sociologists’ capacity for conveying their findings to wider publics, especially given their ambivalence towards the mass media, as witnessed by the professional estrangement that scholars like David Riesman and C. Wright Mills experienced as their writing found receptive lay audiences. He argues further that this sense of professional insularity has inhibited sociology’s participation in the national discussion about social issues to the present day.