Everett Cherrington Hughes (November 30, 1897, Beaver, Ohio – January 4, 1983, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American sociologist best known for his work on ethnic relations, work and occupations and the methodology of fieldwork. His take on sociology was, however, very broad. In recent scholarship, his theoretical contribution to sociology has been discussed as interpretive institutional ecology, forming a theoretical frame of reference that combines elements of the classical ecological theory of class (human ecology, functionalism, Georg Simmel, aspects of a Max Weber-inspired analysis of class, status and political power), and elements of a proto-dependency analysis of Quebec's industrialization in the 1930s (Helmes-Hayes 2000). The efforts to look for a broader theoretical framework

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  • Everett Cherrington Hughes (November 30, 1897, Beaver, Ohio – January 4, 1983, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American sociologist best known for his work on ethnic relations, work and occupations and the methodology of fieldwork. His take on sociology was, however, very broad. In recent scholarship, his theoretical contribution to sociology has been discussed as interpretive institutional ecology, forming a theoretical frame of reference that combines elements of the classical ecological theory of class (human ecology, functionalism, Georg Simmel, aspects of a Max Weber-inspired analysis of class, status and political power), and elements of a proto-dependency analysis of Quebec's industrialization in the 1930s (Helmes-Hayes 2000). The efforts to look for a broader theoretical framework in Hughes's work have also been criticized as anachronistic search for coherent theoretical core when Hughes is more easily associated with a methodological orientation (Chapoulie 1996, see also Helmes-Hayes 1998, 2000 on critiques of his attempts to analyze Hughes's theoretical contribution). Hughes's pathbreaking contribution to the development of fieldwork as a sociological method is, however, unquestionable (see Chapoulie 2002). Hughes is often discussed only in relation to his contribution to the Chicago school. Therefore, it is seldom noted that he was one of the early contributors to the sociological analysis of Nazi Germany. Two classical essays, "Good People and Dirty Work" and "The Gleichschaltung of the German Statistical Yearbook: A Case in Professional Political Neutrality" witness of his lifelong commitment in sociology as a humanistic enterprise. In his preface to a collection of his papers entitled The Sociological Eye Hughes writes I heard the Brown Shirts in the streets of Nuremberg in 1930 singing, "The German youth is never so happy as when Jewish blood spurts from his knife;" I wrote "Good People and Dirty Work" and used it as a special lecture at McGill University where in the 1930s I taught a course on Social Movements that came to be known as "Hughes on the Nazis." (Hughes 1984, xv). Hughes's essays reflect his insight into German society, the developments of which he keenly followed during a long time. He spent a year there 1930–1931 when he was preparing a study on the Catholic labour movement (Chapoulie 1996, 14) and returned after the war for visits together with a delegation of U.S. scholars. He was fluent in German. He also had a keen interest in Canadian society, where his fluent knowledge of French language allowed him to develop ties to French-speaking sociology in Canada and support its development (Chapoulie 1996, Helmes-Hayes 2000). Hughes's sociological prose is original in its avoidance of complex concepts. He never published explicitly theoretical work. However, his essays are analytically dense and he often discusses the task of sociology more broadly. In his preface for The Sociological Eye, first published in 1971 (transaction edition published in 1984), he describes his approach to sociology with reference to C. Wright Mills's phrase the sociological imagination (Hughes 1984, xvi). In his final paragraphs to that preface he outlines his view of sociology and sociological method: Some say that sociology is a normative science. If they mean that social norms are one of its main objects of study, I agree. If they mean anything else, I do not agree. Many branches of human learning have suffered from taking norms too seriously. Departments of language in universities are often so normative that they kill and pin up their delicate moth of poetry and stuff their beasts of powerful living profes before letting students examine them. Language, as living communication, is one of the promising fields of study; it is not quite the same as the study of languages. Men constantly make and break norms; there is never a moment when the norms are fixed and unchanging. If they do appear to remain unchanged for some time in some place, that, too, is to be accounted for as much as change itself.Certainly, I have never sat down to write systematically about how to study society. I am suspicious of any method said to be the one and only. But among the methods I should recommend is the intensive, penetrating look with an imagination as lively and as sociological as it can be made. One of my basic assumptions is that if one quite clearly sees something happen once, it is almost certain to have happened again and again. The burden of proof is on those who claim a thing once seen is an exception; if they look hard, they may find it everywhere, although with some interesting differences in each case. (Hughes 1984, xviii-xix). (en)
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  • Everett Cherrington Hughes (November 30, 1897, Beaver, Ohio – January 4, 1983, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was an American sociologist best known for his work on ethnic relations, work and occupations and the methodology of fieldwork. His take on sociology was, however, very broad. In recent scholarship, his theoretical contribution to sociology has been discussed as interpretive institutional ecology, forming a theoretical frame of reference that combines elements of the classical ecological theory of class (human ecology, functionalism, Georg Simmel, aspects of a Max Weber-inspired analysis of class, status and political power), and elements of a proto-dependency analysis of Quebec's industrialization in the 1930s (Helmes-Hayes 2000). The efforts to look for a broader theoretical framework (en)
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  • Everett Hughes (sociologist) (en)
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  • Everett C. Hughes (en)
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