The Summer-Porter Controversy at Yale: Pre-Paradigmatic Sociology and Institutional Crisis*


  • *

    The authors wish to acknowledge: the stimulating ideas of Robert A. Jones, University of Illinois, who initially directed our attention to the need to reevaluate the controversy; the assistance of Walter O. Joyce, Pace College, in the early stages of our inquiry; the helpful suggestions of Andrew Effrat, Victor Lidz, and Anthony Oberschall; and the cooperation of Judith A. Schiff and Marjorie G. Wynne, Yale University Library.


This reappraisal of the dispute between William Graham Sumner and Noah Porter at Yale (1879-1881) emphasizes the conjunction of disciplinary unxieties (over the academic establishment of sociology) and institutional crisis (over Yale's classical curriculum). Theoretical implications are developed through further explication of Thomas Kuhn's notion of “pre-paradigmatic” science.