Published in 1899, The Philadelphia Negro provides an important template to examine both the use and promise of heterogeneity as one of the earliest pillars in the establishment of American sociology. In this paper, I locate the notion of heterogeneity within W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic The Philadelphia Negro to demonstrate both the historical roots of the concept and also Du Bois’s use of the concept as key to his production of new sociological knowledge. As will be shown, Du Bois explicitly and implicitly disrupts existing notions of heterogeneity and of a monolithic Black population by emphasizing the intraracial variation thereof; thus Du Bois’s The Philadelphia Negro intervention amplifies the role of heterogeneity as a tool for uncovering variation that produces incisive sociological theorization and analysis.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Anderson, E. (1990). Streetwise: Race, class and change in an urban community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Anderson, E. (1996). “Introduction” in Centennial Edition of The Philadelphia Negro by W.E.B. DuBois. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Aptheker, H. (2000). Notes on DuBois’s Final Years. Souls, 4, 78–86.
Bay, M. (1998). The world was thinking wrong about race. In M. B. Katz & T. J. Sugrue (Eds.), W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and the City: The Philadelphia Negro and Its Legacy (pp. 41–59). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Blackwell, J. E., & Janowitz, M. (1974). Black Sociologists. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bobo, L. D. (2000). “Reclaiming a Du Boisian perspective on racial attitudes.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 568(1), 186–202.
Broderick, F. L. (1974). W.E.B. Du Bois as Sociologist. In J. E. Blackwell & M. Janowitz (Eds.), Black Sociologists: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (pp. 3–24). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Charles, C. Z. (2006). Won’t You be My Neighbor? NY: Russell Sage.
Deegan, M. J. (1988). W.E.B. DuBois and the Women of the Hull-House, 1896-1899. American Sociologist, 19(Winter), 301–11.
Deegan, M. J. (2002). Race, Hull-House, and the University of Chicago. Westport: Praeger.
Drake, S. C., & Cayton, H. R. (1945). Black Metropolis: A study of negro life in a Northern City. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (1898). The Study of Negro Problems. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 11, 1–23.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (1899). The Philadelphia Negro. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (1940). Dusk of Dawn. New York: Harcourt.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (1968). The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois. Canada: International Publishers.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (1969). The Black North 1901. NY: Arno Press.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (2003a). The Souls of Black Folk. NY: Barnes & Nobles Classic.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (2003b). Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil. Amherst: Humanity Books.
Du Bois, W.E.B.  1978. “The Negroes in Farmville, Virginia.” In On Sociology and the Black Community edited by W.E.B. DuBois, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Durkheim, E. (1975). Montesquieu and Rousseau: Forerunners of Sociology. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Fields, K. E. (2002). Individuality and the intellectuals: an imaginary conversation between W.E.B. DuBois and Emile Durkheim. Theory and Society, 31(4), 435–462.
Giddings, F. H. (1896). The Principles of Sociology: An analysis of the phenomena of association and of social organization. New York: Macmillan.
Hancock, A. (2003). W.E.B. DuBois: intellectual forefather of intersectionality? Souls, 7, 60–68.
Hunter, M. A. (2013a). Black Citymakers: How The Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hunter, M. A. (2013b). A Bridge Over Troubled Urban Waters: W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Philadelphia Negro and the Ecological Conundrum. Du Bois Review, 10(1), 7–31.
Hunter, M. A. (2014a). Ecologies, post-modern urbanisms, and symbolic economies: a comparative assessment of American urban sociology. Comparative Sociology, 13, 185–214.
Hunter, M. A. (2014b). Black philly after the philadelphia negro. Contexts, 13(1), 26–31.
Katz, M., & Sugrue, T. (Eds.). (1998). W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and the City: The Philadelphia Negro and the City. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Lacy, K. (2007). Blue-Chip Black. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lewis, D. L. (1993). W.E.B. DuBois. New York: Holt.
Lindsay, S. (1898a). The unit of investigation or of consideration in sociology. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 12, 42–56.
Lindsay, S. (1898b). The study and teaching of sociology: the annual meeting of 1898. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 12, 1–48.
Lindsay, S. (1899). A ‘Unit’ in sociology—A reply to professor small. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 13, 86–89.
Marable, M. (1986). W.E.B. DuBois: Black Radical Democrat. Boston: Twayne.
Massey, D., & Nancy D. (1993). American Apartheid. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
McKee, J. (1993). Sociology and the Race Problem: The Failure of a Perspective. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Morris, A. 2006. “American Sociology of Race and the Ignoring of W.E.B DuBois: The Price of the Path Not Taken” in SOCIOLOGY IN AMERICA: The ASA Centennial History edited by Craig Calhoun, pp. 503-534. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Morris, A., & Ghaziani, A. (2005). DuBoisian sociology: a watershed of professional and public sociology. Souls, 7, 47–54.
Patten, S. (1894). The failure of biologic sociology. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 4, 63–91.
Patten, S. (1895). The relation of economics to sociology. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 5, 117–123.
Patten, S. (1896). The relation of sociology to psychology. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 8, 1–28.
Pattillo, M. M. (1999). Black Picket Fences: Privilege and Peril Among the Black Middle Class. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pattillo, M. (2007). Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Robinson, Z. F. (2014). This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South. Chapel Hill: University of Carolina Press.
Rudwick, E. (1974). W.E.B. Du Bois as Sociologist. In J. E. Blackwell & M. Janowitz (Eds.), Black Sociologists: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (pp. 25–55). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Simmel, G. (1895). The problem of sociology. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 6, 52–63.
Simmel, G. (1898a). Persistence of social groups. American Journal of Sociology, 3(5), 662–698.
Simmel, G. (1898b). Persistence of social groups II. American Journal of Sociology, 3(6), 829–836.
Simmel, G. (1898c). Persistence of social groups III. American Journal of Sociology, 4(1), 35–50.
Simmel, G.  1983. “The Metropolis and Mental Life.” In New Perspectives on the American Community, edited by Roland Warren and Larry Lyon. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press.
Spencer, H. (1896). System of synthetic philosophy. New York: D. Appleton.
Watts, J. G. (1983). On Reconsidering Park, Johnson, DuBois, Frazier and Reid: reply to Benjamin Bowser’s ‘The Contribution of Blacks to Sociological Knowledge’. Phylon, 4, 273–291.
Weber, M. (1978). Economy and Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wilson, W. J. (1987). The Truly Disadvantaged. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Wilson, W. J. (1996). When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor. New York: Random House.
Wirth, L. (1938). Urbanism as a way of life. American Journal of Sociology, 44, 8–20.
Wright, E. 2000. “Atlanta University and American Sociology, 1896-1917: An Earnest Desire for Truth Despite its Possible Unpleasantness.” PhD Dissertation, University of Nebraska.
Wright, E., II. (2002). Using The Master’s Tools: Atlanta University and American Sociology, 1896-1924. Sociological Spectrum, 22(1), 15–39.
Wright, E. (2005). WEB Du Bois and the Atlanta sociological laboratory. Sociation Today, 3(1), 1–14.
Wright, E. (2006). W.E.B. Du Bois and the Atlanta University studies on the Negro, revisited. Journal of African American Studies, 9(4), 3–17.
Young, A., Jr., & Deskins, D., Jr. (2001). Early traditions of African-American sociological thought. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 445–477.
Zuberi, T. (2004). W.E.B. DuBois’s sociology: the Philadelphia negro and social science. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 559, 146–156.
Zuckerman, P. (2002). The sociology of religion of W.E.B. DuBois. The Sociology of Religion, 63(2), 239–253.
The research presented in this article benefited from the generous financial support of Yale University, the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program, and UCLA. The author would like to thank and acknowledge Zandria F. Robinson, Charles Camic, Jean Beaman, Christopher Wildeman, ASA’s History of Sociology section, and the reviewers for their encouraging and thoughtful feedback.
About this article
Cite this article
Hunter, M.A. W.E.B. Du Bois and Black Heterogeneity: How The Philadelphia Negro Shaped American Sociology. Am Soc 46, 219–233 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12108-014-9249-2
- W.E.B. Du Bois
- The Philadelphia Negro
- Urban America