Maurice Halbwachs and the Chicago sociologists
This article examines how Maurice Halbwachs circulated among University of Chicago networks during his autumn 1930 stay there, particularly his interactions with sociologists. It is based on the scientific articles he wrote when he returned, correspondence with his family, and his « Lettres des États-Unis », published anonymously in the Progrès de Lyon newspaper. The Durkheimian sociologist was invited to the University of Chicago by the William F. Ogburn, a promoter of quantitative studies in a sociology department then deeply divided between partisans of « case study » sociology and partisans of « statistics ». 1930 was precisely the year the statistics side won out and funding policy of the University authorities and the Rockefeller Foundation was entirely reoriented. Halbwachs had little esteem for the works of Park, Burgess and their students ; what he called their « concrete » and « picturesque » studies were in his view not science, but comparable instead to the observations provided by explorers and missionaries that then served as material for real savants, sedentary scholar ethnologists. It did not occur to Halbwachs that this division of labor could be called into question.