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Giving credit where credit is due: Dorothy Swaine Thomas and the “Thomas Theorem”

Abstract

This study examines how Dorothy Swaine Thomas’s connection to the well-known “Thomas Theorem” is documented in introductory sociology texts. W.I. Thomas and Dorothy Swaine Thomas co-authoredThe Child in America (1928) in which the “theorem” first appears. However, it was not until the mid-1970s that Dorothy Swaine Thomas’s connection to these words begins to be cited in the books surveyed. The author suggests one reason for this pattern of neglect is a professional ideology that encouraged a process of genderization in sociology. It is only when women start to gain more visibility in the discipline that Dorothy Swain Thomas begins to be cited. The various ways the texts differ from the basic norms of citation are analyzed and discussed.

Sociology, being a social phenomenon, needs to be studied as one.

Everett Hughes (1958:157)

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Smith, R.S. Giving credit where credit is due: Dorothy Swaine Thomas and the “Thomas Theorem”. Am Soc 26, 9–28 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02692352

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Keywords

  • Matthew Effect
  • American Sociological Association
  • Introductory Text
  • Full Credit
  • Introductory Textbook