‘Hobhouse twice removed’: John Porter and the LSE years


  • *This paper was first presented as ‘More than a Fabian: John Porter and the LSE Years' at the CSAA meetings at the University of Windsor in June, 1988. It was also presented to the Humanities Colloquium at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland in November 1988. I would like to thank the following people for thoughtful comments on earlier drafts: Wallace Clement, Dennis Forcese, John Goyder, Jim Greenlee, Olaf Jan-sen, Graeme Lang, Seymour Martin Lipset, Donald G. MacRae, Rod Morrison, David Nock, the late John Owen, Anthony Richmond, Edward Shils, Kenneth Westhues, as well as two anonymous reviewers from the Review. Many thanks as well to my interviewees and correspondents, in particular Marion Porter. This research was made possible by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Post-doctoral Fellowship 456-86-0438; 456-87-0020; Memorial University of Newfoundland Vice-President's Research Grant 3–32200). This manuscript was received in September, 1989 and accepted in March, 1990.


De l'automne 1946 au printemps 1949, John Porter recu sa seule formation professionelle en sociologie à l'écoale supérieure d'études commerciales et science politique de Londres (London School of Economics and Political Science). Une revue de ses notes et travaux d'étudiant, de ses notes d'enseignement du collège Carleton, ainsi que de ses écrits plus récents, tant publicés que non-publiés, indiquent que Porter fût influenceé beaucoup moins par le style élitiste et paternaliste associéà la sociologie et à la politique fabianniste qu'il est généralement suggéré. L'influence intellectuelle la plus importante qu'il ait reçu durant sa période de formation fût la sociologie libéraliste de l'Etat providence et la sociologie humaniste, consensuelliste, évolutionnaire, rationaliste et empiriste de L.T. Hobhouse.

From the fall of 1946 to the spring of 1949 John Porter received his only formal training in sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. A review of his student course notes and essays, early lecture notes from Carleton College, and his later published and unpublished writings indicates that Porter was much less influenced by the elitist, paternalistic Fabian style of sociology and politics than has generally been appreciated. The most important intellectual influence on him during this formative period was the welfare state liberalism and humanistic, consensualist, evolutionary, rationalist and empirical sociology of L.T. Hobhouse.