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Why Bother with the Classics?

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: January 8, 2006
Latest Update: January 8, 2006

E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Index of Topics on Site Weber, Parsons, Merton, Goffman: Why?
This piece is based on an excellent discussion of why we should cite Gordon Allport on prejudice and categorization. Why should we care about Gordon Allport? By Chuck Huff. A talk given at the March 14th, 2001 Allport Award Dinner to the St. Olaf Psychology Department Faculty and Students. Backup.

Chuck Huff, in the talk linked above, spoke of the use of the number of citations of a work as a measure of its importance to the field. That's not perfect. Legal periodicals do a better job of recording such citations, but The Social Science Citation Index does give us a solid quantitative measure, albeit "one somewhat stilted and incomplete picture of Gordon Allport's influence on psychology."

Chuck Huff's Graph of Relative Number of Citations by Four Leading Psychologists.

Chuck Huff's Graph of Relative Number of Citations
by Four Leading Psychologists

Chuck Huff's graph above shows that Allport is among the four most often cited psychologists. That means that his name will come up frequently in learned discussions of psychology dealing with issues of prejudice and how it affects our understanding. So Allport's name is one of those I should put up under Famous People and Concepts We Should Have Heard Of, But Often Haven't one week soon. As often happens in sociology, all four of these well-nown and well-cited psychologists are also well-known and well-cited in sociology. Freud brought us the unconscious; Bandura the effects of modelling in learning; Skinner behavioral conditioning; and Allport prejudice and categorization.

You might like to check some leading sociologists in the Social Science Citation Index to see how they compare. What about Weber, Parsons, Merton, and Goffman?



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