Willard W. Waller ; edited and with an introduction by William J. Goode, Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., and Larry R. Mitchell
Willard Waller (1899-1945) taught and wrote on sociology during the decades of its crystallization, the 1920s through the 1940s. He pursued sociological analysis in terms of intensive direct observation and humanistic detail as well as conceptual analysis. Waller's explorations of role behavior, especially in his writings on marriage and education, shocked academia and are still provocative today. In his direct, perceptive, often cynical style, he penetrated the facades of the most respected social institutions. He made use of the case study method; many of Waller's case studies were lifted directly from his own experiences, particularly from the agonies of his own divorce and from the disappointments of his initial teaching experience. He also drew fresh insights from the personal experiences of his colleagues and students, hardly a traditional procedure. This volume is the first unified presentation of Waller's writings, covering in depth his work on family, education, and war. It also includes his shorter, but equally vivid, discussions on social problems such as crime and on the conflict between insight and scientific method. Since Waller's private life was so intimately bound to his public work, an understanding of his personal history reveals much about the development and dilemma of sociologists in the United States. In their Introduction editors Goode, Mitchell, and Furstenberg reconstruct the life of this complex American thinker.