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The Social Sciences and Theories of Race

The secret battles over the values influencing social sciences

Vernon J. Williams Jr.'s The Social Sciences and Theories of Race focuses on anthropology and sociology's engagement with some of the U.S.'s most enduring problems: race and race relations. In discussing the work of key scholars (both black and white) on race and culture, including Franz Boas, George W. Ellis, Booker T. Washington, Ulysses G. Weatherly, and Monroe N. Work, Williams demonstrates the dynamic nature of their ideas and reveals the social, cultural, and intellectual forces that influenced their supposedly value-neutral scientific thinking.

The evolution of their work is outlined through expert use of a variety of tools from social, cultural, and intellectual history, as well as biography and autobiography. Williams shows that ethnicity, and a range of social and political pressures had important impacts on the developing fields of both sociology and anthropology, and he demonstrates that those working in the social sciences can improve their own analyses by understanding the mentality of the observer whose work they're evaluating.


"Vernon J. Williams Jr.'s The Social Sciences and Theories of Race is a collection of thoughtful, well-researched essays that chart the influence of anthropologist Franz Boas's scholarship on early-twentieth-century racial thinking. . . . A valuable contribution to the historiography of anthropology and racial formation."--Journal of Southern History

"Readers who are not yet familiar with Vernon J. Williams's meticulous scholarship on race in America and its accompanying implicit and matter-of-fact activism will find a rare treat in these collected essays written over two decades but consistent in tone and intent."--Journal of Anthropological Research

"Provocative and thought-provoking collection of essays. . . . The Social Sciences and Theories of Race deals with important issues in the discourse on race and race relations. It is a volume that should encourage further research and writing on these topics for decades to come."--Journal of African American History


Vernon J. Williams Jr. is Professor Emeritus in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University 

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