Published on October 18, 2008 By Paul Bourne In Philosophy


                                                Source:  National Park Service Photograph








Paul Andrew Bourne




The historical contributions, significance and potency of a particular sect of people within our space appear to lack impetus, whenever we begin to examine, analyze, and/or delve into the contributions of the same people to various arenas of world history.  It seems that a black force covers the inputs of Blacks in our annals. The issues of racism, colonialism, separatism and apartheid become black, belittling, intense and even opaque during any discourse that must assess the worth and value of the Blacks in academics, entrepreneurship, engineering, and/or inventions. History has been good to the Blacks by deliberately blacklisting them from discoveries before, during and after civilization. This paper does not seek to substantiate, blackout or whitewash the truths of racism or even endorse any of its tenets but is primarily concerned with re-writing history without a colour coding schema. One Black scholar, of noble beginnings, has contributed infinitesimally to sociology by introducing the rigours of empiricism to the discipline in the study of social man, but, today, has not been lauded, merited or even recognized as having aided the subject’s parameters, breadth and moreso evolution.  Dr. William E. B. DuBois’ research on the Philadelphia Negroes played a pivotal role in concretizing a schema that sociology can be studied with the same degree of scientificness like that of the natural sciences.  Despite his contribution to the doctrine of social sciences, he is somewhere in nowhere. This thesis, in using DuBois’ blacklisted position, from a discipline that he so aptly helped to form, shows the ease to which the mega-structure is able to ‘blackout’ the enormous worth of any group that it so desires to ostracize from any area of society.  Dr. DuBois, a sociologist and Pan-Africanist, was able to bridge the divide between academics and general daily existence of man.  The value added to sociology as a result of his birth is embedded in his decisions, choices, monographs, and organization that has and continue to foster discourse of some societal issues. Dr. DuBois was an applied sociologist, among other things, who understood the importance of scholarship in explaining social phenomenon, while seeking to objectively measure what is, instead of accepting an established truth.  This scholar was the first academic to utilize discourse analysis to examine aspects of racism, and social injustices, and by so doing highlighted how structures are used to justify social happenings.  This paper uses historical comparative analysis to illustrate the mega-structure’s function in meriting who it chooses, while disbarring others.  The value of this schema is evident as to how Marx, Comte, Spencer, Weber, Durkheim and others were elevated to supremacy in sociology, with DuBois being blacklisted.  Dr. Taylor spoke to this in Stolen Legacy as an aspect of the schema of the plantocracy and the elitist dominance to reduce the worth of the Blacks in all spheres of our society.




Keywords:   Paul Andrew Bourne, Mega-structure, Sociology, Contribution, Empiricism, Scienficness, William E. DuBois, Orville Taylor, Study of the Philadelphian Negroes, historical contributions, civilization, sideline, Pan-Africanist.










Academic career


The sociology of neglect


The non-academic side







...DuBois, to his admirers, was by spirited devotion and scholarly dedication, an attacker of injustice and a defender of freedom (Hynes 2003))



On February 23, 1868 in a minute village of New England, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, New England, United States, in which a few African Americans reside, a child was born named W.E.B. (William Edward Burghardt) DuBois . He was born to Alfred and Mary Burghardt DuBois.  One of the socio-economic challenges that hinders the evolution of the Blacks in a society is the role (or the lack

(Source: Library of Congress)       

thereof) that fathers play in the socialization process of their children, and the sociopsychologic deficiency that results because they are not cognizant of their role as parents.  DuBois was no exception as his father, Alfred, left the marital home for somewhere else while William was still an infant; so, he was raised by his mother, Mary (see for example, Franceshi, 2005; Hynes (2003); McKissack 1990; FBI, 1942).  History reads that he was the only child for his mother, Mary DuBois, who emphasized the value of education and diligence as a vehicle for social mobility and success. 

            The path that Dr. DuBois’ life took was not an easy one, but it is a make for a delightful read. History records that he was the first Black American to have graduated from his class and the foremost African American to have graduated in Great Barrington from Great Barrington Secondary school, at the time (DuBois 99). Due to the fact that  Fisk College (now University) was not located in Great Barrington but to the South, DuBois had to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee. While there, he was exposed to first hand overt segregation and racism.  Although he was experiencing segregation and blatant racism, he was still able to surround himself with educated African-Americans and liberal whites who were instrumental in awakening a social consciousness within him that influenced his life thereafter.  He later posits that, “I was tossed boldly into the ‘Negro Problem’ . . . I suddenly came to a region where the world was split into white and black halves, and where the darker half was held back by race prejudice and legal bonds, as well as by deep ignorance and dire poverty” (DuBois, 1976, 108).  This may have begun the social consciousness of his race and may even have propelled that willingness that he displayed in using himself as that vehicle for the black and white halves of society - that there is social equality in competency of the races irrespective of their skin pigmentation.

            On graduating from Fisk College, (now University), which was a black institution, in 1888 with an A.B (now B.A) degree in Philosophy. Between 1888 and 1890 he entered Harvard University as a junior and received a second A.B degree cum laude (FBI, 1954, 5).  DuBois did post graduate work at Harvard University between 1890 and 1892 in which he pursued and successfully completed a M.A degree in philosophy and history. 

            He was boiled with anger by ex-president Rutherford B Hayes’s assertion that he (Rutherford Hayes) could not find a commendable black student to take advantage of a fund to educate Negro students (Hynes, 2003).  This assertion angered DuBois greatly, so he applied directly to Hayes for the scholarship, and was successfully allocated the grant (Slater Fund Fellowship for Graduate Study Abroad). 

            While DuBois was at Harvard University, he distant himself from the system as he felt the purpose of him being there was to “Improve the condition of the race as a whole” (McKissack, 1990, 30).  DuBois was so adamant about social segregation, exclusion and racism that while at Harvard, he chose not to socialize with many of the other Harvard students, choosing instead to spend his time with the African-Americans in Boston, encasing himself in a completely coloured world.  It was during that period that DuBois solidified his belief that education was the cure for his people.  This undoubtedly would have been as a result of his early socialization with his mother and which would justify why, he believed that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line, the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the seas” (Weinberg, 81).  As such, Dr. DuBois theorized that education was the only way the African-Americans could save themselves from poverty, exclusion and racism – could this be an explanation for monographs such as - ‘The Talented Tenth’, ‘The Souls of Black Folk’, ‘The Philadelphia Negro’, ‘Dark Princess’, ‘Colour and Democracy’, ‘Black Reconstruction in America’, ‘Black Folk Then and Now’, ‘Darkwater’ and ‘John Brown’.

            In 1896, DuBois was awarded a PhD from Harvard. His dissertation reads the ‘Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1890’. It was published in 1897 and became the first volume for the Harvard Historical Studies. From various sources (see for example, FBI, 1942, 1958; Bridgewater State College, 2006), Dr. DuBois was the first African American to have received a Ph.D. in history from (Harvard).  Prior to the completion of his PhD at Harvard, because of financial constraint, he stopped one semester short from completing a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Berlin, Germany (1892-1894).




                                                             (Harvard graduation, 1890. The six class day speakers; Du Bois is at the far right)


It was between 1892 and 1895 while finalizing his doctorial dissertation that DuBois brilliantly postulated that it was highly probable that the race phenomenon can be subjected to scientific scrutiny.  This inevitably placed DuBois in an irreparable conflict with the social Darwinism, and the hereditarianism research programme which attempted to verify it.  During 1897 to 1914, he conducted numerous studies of the Blacks and the Blacks in society in America. This resulted in 16 published research papers. He began the investigations believing that social science could provide answers to the race problems. Gradually he concluded that in a climate of virulent racism, social change could only be accomplished by agitation and protest. These were the dominant ‘ideoshanal’ and research paradigms on race matters with Anglo American social psychology of the time.  Both actively capitulated and apologized for racism, both vigorously supported class exploitation; each claimed that social structure and social behaviour for the consequences of inherited genetic characteristics.

            According to Hynes, DuBois was fashioned into the end product that he became from studying in Berlin (Hynes, 2003).  It appears that Du Bois was not simply driven by knowledge but he wanted to change the man made social structure that drove some people for normally participating in society into isolation and inferiority. This is embedded in the ‘Soul of Black Folks’ in which he stated that:

       I.      The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races. Now the training of men is a difficult and intricate task. Its technique is a matter for educational experts, but its object is for the vision of seers. If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men. Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools—intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it—this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life. On this foundation we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the object of life. . . .

    II.      If this be true—and who can deny it—three tasks lay before me; first to show from the past that the Talented Tenth as they have risen among American Negroes have been worthy of leadership; secondly, to show how these men may be educated and developed; and thirdly, to show their relation to the Negro problem. . . .

 III.      From the very first it has, been the educated and intelligent of the Negro people that have led and elevated the mass, and the sole obstacles that nullified and retarded their efforts were slavery and race prejudice; . . . (Du Bois, 1903)

From DuBois’ monograph (as previously forwarded), the social realities of the then Blacks can only be transformed through the education of competent Blacks.  This would follow the educated Blacks using the garnered knowledge to aid the social development of their race.  The Black race redemption does not lie in the spirituality, but is driven by an understanding of that which exists and how the educated among the Blacks will foster this renaissance.  The lever to the process will not be based on primary education, but the collaboration of diligent work and education with a vision of the social reality of the race in order to inject fuels within the less educated Blacks as to how they will need to fashion a programme to elevate themselves from the bondage, exclusion and dependency that they have come to accept as normal.  DuBois believed that this could only be materialized by what he referred to as the ‘Exceptional men’.

            It was while in Europe (University of Berlin) that DuBois’ social consciousness of the injustices of particular groups of people began unfolding. But this time, it emerged from a global perspective (i.e. in Asia, Africa, Americas and the political development of Europe). This then explain Williams’ interest in the merger of economics, history and politics in the study of his people.

            I have extensively pursued a plethora of monographs inclusive of DuBois’ works and I must admit that there is no substantial documentary evidence to support Hynes’ claim that Williams was deliberately prevented from completing a PhD. from the University of Berlin because of race phenomenon. According to Hynes (2003)

            DuBois had completed a draft of his dissertation and needed another semester or so to finish his degree. But the men over his funding sources decided that the education he was receiving there was unsuitable for the type of work needed to help Negroes. They refused to extend him any more funds and encouraged him to obtain his degree from Harvard. Which of course he was obliged to do. His doctoral thesis, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade in America, remains the authoritative work on that subject, and is the first volume in Harvard’s Historical Series (Hynes, 2003).

            Hynes argued that the University of Berlin (in Germany) was considered to be the ‘world’s finest institution of higher learning’ during DuBois’ tenure at that school.  If this were the case, then, he could not be allowed to complete such a milestone within the context of the structure that speaks to an inferior class (i.e. the Negroes).  What followed this reality?



William Edward Burghardt Du Bois
Laura Wheeler Waring,Oil on canvas, not dated, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Walter Waring in memory of his wife, Laura Wheeler Waring, through the Harmon Foundation. Taken from


The evolution of DuBois’ life gradually emerged after the completion of his PhD. Willie’s first job commenced at Wilberforce University, where he taught Greek and Latin.  This appointment was short lived as DuBois joined the academic staff of Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University – 1897-1910), Georgia, in 1897 following a 2-year stay at Wilberforce University, while spending one year (1896/97) on staff at Pennsylvania University as an assistant instructor in sociology (McDonnell 1981, viii).

            It was during his tenure at Wilberforce that he married Nina Gomer who was a student of his at the time.  The marriage lasted for 53 years. Mrs. Nina Du Bois died 1950 (McDonnell, 1950, viii). Mrs. Nina and Williams Du Bois had two children. Their first child was born in 1898 and died 2-years afterward but a second child Yolande was born in 1901 and died in 1960. Willie’s marriage to Nina was not to be his only such social relationship as in 1951 (i.e. 2/14/51) he wed Lola Graham (born 11/11/1899). Mrs. Lola Graham Du Bois (also known as Shirley Graham, or Lola Shirley Bell Graham) was first married to Shadrach T. MC Cants (on 7/16/1918). She was professor of music at Morgan College. This did not alt his illustrious career in any form as while at Atlanta (1896-1910; 1934-44), he founded the department of sociology in which he lectured  as professor for sociology and history (FBI, 1942; Hynes 2003). On the second time around at Atlanta College, Dr. Du Bois was head of the sociology department between 1934 and 1944.  One source noted that Du Bois was head of the department of history and economics (Bridgewater State College, 2006).



                                    Du Bois at his desk in the Crisis office, circa 1915


            DuBois began his academic and public careers at a time when the forces of reaction had achieved political, ‘ideoshanal’ and cultural supremacy in the United States.  It was within this background that he began his long journey in pursuit of the truth.  He taught that this truth could be studied through scientific investigation.  Scientific rigor and an unbending partisanship to the cause of African-Americans equality defined the part he chose.  In retrospect, Du Bois’ scientific effort has prevailed over both Herbert Spencer’s and Francis Galton’s research programme of scientific racism.  W. E. B. DuBois brought back the German scientific ideal from the University of Berlin and was one of the first to initiate scientific sociological study in the United States.  

            Dr DuBois thrust eagerly and indepthly into research. He believed that the race problem (segregation and white racism) was one of ignorance. So, he was determined to unearth scientific knowledge as much as he could, thereby providing the "cure" for color prejudice. Williams’ unrelenting research led into historical investigation, statistical and anthropological measurement, and sociological interpretation. The outcome of this exhaustive endeavor was published as The Philadelphia Negro (Hynes, 2003). "It revealed the Negro group as a symptom, not a cause; as a striving, palpitating group, and not an inert, sick body of crime; as a long historic development and not a transient occurrence" (Hynes, 2003). The Philadelphia Negro study was of its kind but this was not the only tenet of this project as it was the first time in America that such a scientific approach to studying social phenomena was undertaken. Hynes (2003) posited that this elevated Professor Dr. Du Bois to the status of father of Social Sciences.

                                                                                                                         (McDonnell, 1981, ix)

            The ease to which common sense replaces scientific inquiry is high, but I am cognizant of such a social reality.  With this knowledge, I expanded the literature from Hynes in order to establish Professor Dr. Du Bois experiences and in the process investigate a relationship between his pigmentation and his exclusion from the apex of sociology.  It can be construed from McDonnell’s monograph that Du Bois is equal to all of the other founding father of sociology.  Instead of the paths taken by Du Bois, what else should he have done?

            On the completion of the study (the scientific observation of The Philadelphia Negro), he accepted a position at Atlanta University to further his teachings in sociology. For approximately thirteen (13) years,  DuBois wrote and intensely studied the Negro morality, urbanization, Negroes in business, college-bred Negroes, the Negro church, and Negro crime. William DuBois also repudiated the widely held view of Africa as a vast cultural cipher by presenting a historical version of complex, cultural development throughout Africa. His works left no issue unturned in an effort to promote and help social reform.  Many argue that because of DuBois’ outpouring of information "there was no study made of the race problem in America which did not depend in some degree upon the investigations made at Atlanta University."

            Du Bois was not primarily concerned with the study of race in particular the coloured caste from a supercilious depth but through empiricism.   One of his contentions is the utilization of science as a systematic inquiry in the study of social facts.  He had to grapple with “present condition of sociological study” (The Atlanta Conference, 1905, 85-89), because the discipline was new and had not taken full disclosure of techniques, methods and methodology.  Hence, Professor Dr. Du Bois was just experimenting with the sociological science through reliable methods of observation, because he believed that this was an ‘enlightening way’ of systematically investigating the race phenomenon. The publication of the Philadelphia Negro emerged from this era in addition to his dissertation.  This justifies the recognition of his dissertation by Harvard, as it was published as the first book in evolution of social science studies.  Many writers argue that to date, Du Bois’ dissertation is the sole research to date that extensively and scientifically studied the race phenomenon (see for example, University of Chicago 2006; Hynes, 2003; FBI, 1942, 1958: University of Michigan, unknown; University of Virginia Library, 1994).

            W E B DuBois, the scientist, the social reformer, the advocate of black equality and the pioneer begin the introduction of scientific racism must be among the fathers of sociology.  Furthermore, in Tony Monteiro’s view:           

            In retrospect, DuBois's scientific effort has prevailed over both Herbert Spencer's
            and Francis Galton's; that is, the research program of scientific racism. This in        spite of the fact that scientific racism continues to rear its ugly head, as revealed in the publication of The Bell Curve. DuBois's emphasis upon class and social structure
            as the primary causal factors of social behavior, social action and social conflict,
            subsequently propelled a tradition in American social science that stretches from
            Franz Boas, to the Chicago School of Sociology and up till the present. Professor
            E. Digby Baltzell argues that Franz Boas in The Mind of Primitive Man (1911)
            was echoing the findings of DuBois when he wrote that "the traits of the   American Negro are adequately explained on the basis of his history and his social status...without falling back upon the theory of hereditary inferiority."      DuBois's historical research, beginning with the Suppression of the African Slave Trade (1895), through Black Reconstruction (1935), Black Folk Then and Now
            (1939) and The World and Africa (1947) laid a materialist foundation in     American and African historiography. His masterwork in philosophy The Souls of Black Folk (1903) remains a central achievement in moving American philosophy             beyond the strictures of pragmatism and positivism


            DuBois’s literary production is rather massive.  According to Herbert Apthker, “it is on a Dickenson scale”.  Yet more than this, his contributions in many respects laid a scientific materialist foundation for sociology and historiography.  His most important works have that rare quality that brings paradigmatic; setting the broad philosophical and conceptual outlines of disciplinary research.  In this respect, his work in both sociology and history established an alternative research programme.  The DuBoisian’s paradigm is a consistent alternative to sociobiology, the assimilationist and the declining significance of rare paradigms.  DuBois’ scholarship in history, sociology, social history, political economy and literature has the quality of taking on fundamental questions in a scientific and courageous manner.  This gives a time less quality to his most important work and many of his historical predictions.  Of this kind is DuBois’brilliant prediction at the beginning of this century that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of colour line.”  The lasting significance of this prediction is that of making it.  He did not absolutize the issue of race by suggesting that it is not the only problem of this century, nor did he separate race from the modified problems that emerged in the twentieth century.  But what his scholarship and research sought to do was to verify the interactive relationship between race, class and the multi-level configuration of the social structure of modern society.  Du Bois saw race in a global context.  He connected the problem of race to the colonial system and the world economic system.  Du Bois was one of twenty nine (29) men who formed the Niagara Movement that was later merged with a white liberalism to form the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909 (Broderick).

Du Bois prophetically saw the world with a new colonialism and the same old human slavery which once ruined us, to a third world war, which will ruin the world.  As a result, he also called for the outlawing of nuclear weapons.  The richness of DuBois’ work can be a problem in his works such as the The Suppression of the African Slave Trade (1896), The Philadelphia Negro (1892), and The Black Reconstruction as few of them.  In The Suppression of the African Slave Trade, he evinces an approach to history writings that does not include advocacy or partnership.  This masterpiece was out of print and publication for some fifty (50) years.  What an irony?  In 1954, the Social Science Press re-established the publication of The Suppression of the African Slave Trade.  Within that Edition, Du Bois included a ‘postlude’ which is a short explanation of some omissions he made in the book.  He considered a particular naiveté with respect to human psychology which reflected the pre-Freudian epoch of the book’s production and the other weaknesses. He gave most of the weight to the ‘Marxian analyses’.  He acknowledged the existing emphasis in the book but indicated the absence of the concept of class domination of the state, class struggle and class interest as basic to the historical process.

            DuBois’ blackness and the fact that he was an African-American did not cripple his ability to explore beyond the natural but was the hallmark on which he sought to show the equality of the Africans, as it relates to scholarship.  The Philadelphia Negro clearly shows the scholastic aptitude of this black man (Du Bois) as was set out to be proven by Du Bois.  The Philadelphia Negro  is the first major work of Americas and by extension the world in regard to empirical sociology and remains unsuppressed in it methodology, research design, conceptualization, scope and rigor (Katlz).  Although the Philadelphia Negro is basically ignored by most scholars in the field, it is the pre-eminent model in sociology.  The Philadelphia Negro can be considered to be part of a larger scientific project which included Du Bois’ Atlanta studies.  Between 1897 and 1910 Du Bois headed a team of researchers who rigorously studied the race question in the United States and the situation of the African-Americans.  He took charge of the Atlanta University’s annual sociological conferences.  This conference was attended by imminent scholars such as Max Weber and Franz Boas who would present scholarship papers.  As such, Du Bois’ scholarship became a central part of the movements of reform and against poverty and racism.  In this Du Bois stated that the final design of the work is to lie before the publics.  He believed that the body of information may be a safe guide for all efforts towards the solution of the Negro problems of great America.  By 1896, Du Bois already understood what many conservatives and liberal sociologists have not yet digested “ghettorization” and poverty are not the creations of the poor but are as a result of the processes controlled by economic and political forces far removed from the ghetto and the poor themselves.  He posits poverty, “ghettorization” and crime are symptoms of institutional and structural racism.

            In spite of DuBois’s marvelous scholastic achievements, a generation later, in favourable reviews in Harris and Spencer’s The Black Worker, critiqued his Philadelphia Negro for a certain ‘provincialism’ which intended to view the oppression of black people from the view of religion, humanity and sentiment; rather than from the position of socio-economic realities and alignments.  DuBois a scholar from the school of William James, George Santayana and Hegel, was fully aware of the epistemological crisis facing philosophy at the end of the nineteenth century.  The Souls is a unique DuBoisian effort to philosophically address the problem of race and the failure of American pragmatism to provide a philosophical framework for a social science of race.  Another work by this intuitive scholar was Black Reconstruction.  The book received a positive reception and an enthusiastic response from the Afro-American periodicals and journals.  His long association with Pan African efforts, the imminent historian Rayford Logan, said that Black Reconstruction revealed that Du Bois was both a merciless critic and a constructive historian.  According to Logan the real value of this epoch making book is that it is the first Marxian interpretation of this crucial period.  DuBois also sought to make clear that Reconstruction was an episode in the entire worldwide struggle of the rich against the poor. The book did not only review and approach the specificity of the land question in the south but the entire matter of property right; indeed, he called one of the most pregnant chapters in the book “Counter-Revolution of Property”.


            DuBois rejected the naïve optimism of American exceptionalism and idealism of hegelimism.  In The History of the American Negro he argued, is the history of this strife, this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.  In this merger, he wished neither a lost of the older self.  He maintained that real history should be confronted head on, and thus sought to construct a philosophy of real history and of human action.   Charles Wesley, a historian, portrayed Du Bois as a “Lyric historian, the literary knight with a plumbed pen”.




Why the visible marginalization of Du Bois in sociology?  It would appear that both contemporary and traditional sociologists have not seen it fit to epitomize Du Bois to the premier status of being one of the founding fathers of the discipline.  Despite his unprecedented contributions to the discipline and the materialist foundation that Du Bois has offered to this branch of the social science, his legacy is somewhere between the opaque lines in all sociological texts and the untold story of the captured.  This essay has outlined the scholarship of Dr Du Bois as it relates to the scientific approach of the study of issue as race and the invaluable legacy that he has felt for the study of other social phenomena that were once conceived as unscientific.  Then why is W E B Du Bois not mentioned in the same sentence with persons like Max Weber, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte. 

            In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no "two evils" exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.... (Du Bois 1956)


            Williams’ stance would have created a rush of retaliatory ‘bad’ within the hegemonic class as this would inform the premise of his anti-appreciation for the democracy exhibited in his country.  From Du Bois blatant disregard for the mega-structure system, by not wanting to vote, symbolizes a clear trampling of the democracy as established by the elitist.  Du Bois was a socialist in a capitalist society, and this meant that he was exhibiting social deviant behaviour, which informs the structure’s ostracizing him from social greatness as this is controlled by them.  Embedded in Du Bois’ actions is a state of wanting to topple that which existed, a situation that would not favour the state of white separatism and those who control the economic power.  Marx was a socialist who was an Anglo-Saxon and European, which are different from the properties of Du Bois.

            Auguste Comte is lauded for his contributions to sociology and epitomized to the helm of the discipline because of firstly coining the term sociology and secondly laying the materialist foundation that the subject would be studied with the same scientific rigours as the natural sciences.  Did Auguste Comte use empirical evidence to validate his position that social phenomena could be externalized and as a result be studied with the same scientific rigours as the natural sciences?  Answer – No.  Then, why is he among the fathers of the discipline?  Answer – he was the first individual to establish the notion of a discipline known as sociology and in addition he distinguished characteristics that are fundamental to the establishment of the study of the discipline.

            Marxian theories represented a significant growth of the postulations of some of the greatest representatives of beliefs, economic idea, and socialism.  Those positions are the essence, a fusion of German philosophy, English economic thought, and the best of French socialism (Rob Sewell, 1994).  As such, Marx matured under an atmosphere of Hegelianism and its unavoidable influence – through radical Hegelianism and the Young Hegelians (Jim Blaut, Hegelian and Marxist Dialects, 2002).  That influence became apparent in Marx’s dialectical approach to understanding the fundamental sociological question: “How is society Possible?”

            The theoretical intercourse that occurs within Marxian thought is made apparent through the many manifestations of the dialectics within society.  For distinguished sociologist, Karl Marx, the role of the dialectic is in analyzing the antagonistic and contradicting forces within society.  So, conflict then becomes one of, if not the most important concept used in Marxian thought to explain or show the existence of the dialectical nature of society.  It should be noted that, a dialectical relationship also existed in Marxian theories, between the structures or infrastructure and the superstructure, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat (that is, the oppressor and the oppressed, the exploiter and the exploited), ‘class consciousness’ and ‘false consciousness’, and even between conflict and equilibrium.    

Therefore it becomes essential in examining and distinguishing ‘the roles of dialectics and conflict in Marx’s sociology on a whole’, to define the key concepts of Marxian thought. Reason being this is important in understanding the question being asked.  According to the, 2003, dialectic is the “contradiction between two conflicting forces viewed as the determining factor in their continuing interaction.”   As such, by extension therefore, conflict or class struggle may be defined as the “struggle between capital and labour” (Bob Jessop, Karl Marx, Key Sociological Thinkers, 1998).  Therefore, it is the resulting contradiction caused by antagonism within the dialectical relationship.  This suggests that social change, broadly defined, is the post facto occurrence of class conflict.

            The role of dialectic, therefore, is in analyzing the relationship between two opposite forces.  So, conflict then becomes the central theme of the dialectical relationship, and social class conflict that leads to social change.  This is the basis of Marxian theories: but, “it is more complicated than this simple and faceless explanation which calls for more in depth analytical exploration of the matter”.





Source:  Massachussets

Du Bois with delgates from the Junior NAACP, Cleveland, 1929



Could Du Bois’ early socialization and experiences have led to the development of particular ideals and ideas that he exhibited in his life’s works and decisionmaking?  Among many of the choices, opportunities and challenges that he experienced, Willie was also a ecosociopolocrist (the merger of the tenets of economics, sociology and history in the study of the social world with the view of disentangling the mega-structure in order to foster an informed understanding of the oppressive nature of what obtains, that the oppressed actors may be able to chart a path of renaissance).  The photograph above is a justification of the many institutions which arose from gleaned information arising from ecosociopolocrist studies carried out by Professor Dr. Du Bois. 

            Williams was an applied ecosociopolocrist who blended academic and societal needs in an effort to comeback the challenges faced by an oppressed people at the time.  The formation of the Niagara Movement (began 1909), the National Association of the Advancement of Coloured People, the Pan-African Movement and other sub-projects were areas within the general scope of Du Bois wanting to propel the racial separatism that existed, and how the issue must be addressed.

            As he was introduced to the scientific methods of inquiry taught to him at the University of Berlin, Du Bois brought this to America and was the first scholar to integrate this in his work in the study of social phenomenon.  This ushered him into not only a social consciousness, but how the issues must be studied and led to a more practicable approach in addressing social inequality, separatism and injustices.  It meant that Williams saw the world through a different pair of eyes from that of Booter T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and other separatist.

            Taylor, a scholar and black sociologist in Jamaica, surmise that blacks have not been placed on the zenith of many fields, despite their inventions and contributions, primarily because of separatism, elitism, racism and the wider social context of social cohesion established by those in the plantocracies, social power and the hegemonic structure of our world reality. To an extent my mental acuteness favours Dr. Taylor’s monograph (Taylor 2003) but I will go further to say that William was carefully ostracized owing to intended confusion that the social order envisage would have occurred if he were allowed to carry out his ideals. 

            I am not postulating nor am I theorizing that the investigation carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Du Bois earmarked his demise, whitewash or accidental removed from the annals of sociology as one of its founding fathers.  Nonetheless, this paper proposes that a scholarship is not sufficient a condition for inclusion in upper echelons of academia as it is only a microcosm of a wider social reality.  The examination of Williams ___________________





            The origin of dialectical thought did not begin a few years ago but came about over some two (2) thousand years ago.  This new phenomenon at the time was systematically developed by Hegel, and was further advanced by Marx and Engel.  Karl Marx’s notion of the dialectic is traceable to Hegel, and characterizes every single element of his theory (Key Sociological Thinkers, 1998).

            Due to Marx’s contribution to politics, economic and sociology, it may be, easily, accepted and misconstrued that he is the only contributor to the development of the dialectical approach to some theories.  As such, Hegel’s work can be said to be significant in at least three (3) respects to the core of Marxian theories (Any Austin, Hegelian and Marxist Dialectics, 2002).  These include the Hegelian theory of change (that the transformative overcoming of natural and socially inherent limitations); Hegel’s theory of the “objectification of the material work through human labour” (Andy Austin, 2002); and Hegel’s attack on the liberal conception of the individual.  Therefore it is Hegel, more than any one else, who can be seen as the “genesis of the anthropological hardcore of Marxian materialism’ – (Andy Austin, 2002).

            Whereas Hegel postulated materialism’ the idea that “the intellectual world of reason and views ultimately determines history” Marx on the other hand, argued that it was the “economic world that provided the key to understanding and transforming historical development” (Key Sociological Thinkers, 1998).  Such an intellectual discourse is unambiguously expressed in the philosophical dispute between idealism and realism (mind and matter debate).

            Therefore, while Marxian methodology is rooted in Hegelian dialectics, Hegel can be considered to be a ‘philosophical idealist’.  Furthermore, Marx accepted Hegel’s vague understanding of the historical dialectic.  He, however, unequivocal rejected and criticized Hegel’s ‘idealism’ and ‘false positivism’, which implicitly justifies the status quo (Michelson, 1994).  According to Marx, “Hegel has only found the abstract, logical, speculative expression for the movement of history” (Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 …).  Similarly, in his Capital:  A Critique of Political Economy (1867), Marx bluntly stated that the dialectic suffered a “mystification …in Hegel’s hands” and “it must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell” (pp. 45).

            Concurrently, Marx attempted to turn Hegel’s notion of the dialectic “right side up”, by transforming it from a dialectic of idealism to a dialectic of human development, where “history is demystified and understood as humanity’s own creation and development of itself through labour” (B. Ollman, 1971).  As such, Marxian methodology is a materialist dialect where it views social reality as a historical process (Mickelson, 1994).




In answering the fundamental sociological question (as to the origin or existence of society), Marx employed a materialism approach.  He began by analyzing human activity, and argued that consciousness is a product of that (economic) activity (Key Sociological Thinkers, 1998).  Thus, in the Preface to (A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859), he argued that “it is not the consciousness of man that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. 

            According to Marx, society is the relationship acted out by individuals in coming to terms with the material conditions of their subsistence (Haralambos and Holborn, 2002).  For Marx, there needed to be a material makeover of society, rather than a change in consciousness, for the achievement of human freedom.  In using the economic world or ‘historical materialism’ to analyze this transformation and development, Marx purported the very social institutions originated from or exists in economic behaviour (Classical Sociological Theory, 1997).  This may explain why Marx is credited with the position of ‘historical materialism’ or ‘economic determinism’.

            Furthermore, Marxian notion of the dialectic becomes even more recognizable in his discourse concerning the components of the mode of production or the economy, which are:  the means of production (ideological elements), and the relations of production (material elements), otherwise called the ‘structure’ or ‘infrastructure’ and the ‘superstructure’, respectively (Macionis and Plummer, 1998, pp. 62).

            In recognizing that there is a dialectical interplay at all times between the structure and the superstructure, Marx purported that the economic system was the foundation of the institutional order and everything else was (religion, government, arts and marriage) was seen as a derivative superstructure built upon the base of economics (Masters of Sociological Thought, 1971).

            The clear dichotomy in the mode of production or economy is actually a manifestation of his use of the dialectic.  Thus, this manifestation of dialectical intercourse is also apparent as Marx goes on to discuss class, thus analyzing social conflict and social change.

            In the Communist Manifesto, it is argued that ‘the history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle’.  Thus, concurrent with his ‘historical determinism’ or historical materialism’ dialectics approach, Marx went on to look at class conflict as being the driving force of social change from one historical epoch to the next.

            In distinguishing the five (5) different historical epochs or stage of societies to which every society exist or existed belong:  Primitive communism, ancient slavery, feudal society, capitalism and ultimately communism societies.  Marx forwarded a position that class society began when the structure and-or superstructure was no longer communally owned, and thereby moved to privatization of resources (Classical Sociological Theory).  As such, class emerges and along with it, class conflict (due to the separation of wealth in the mode of production), there also emerged a dialectical struggle that characterized the relationship between the rulers and the ruled, the oppressor and the oppressed (Master of Sociological Thought, 1971).

            It is this dialectical struggle that leads to social change, which occurs either when the oppressors are overthrown by the oppressed, or there is the “mutual ruination” of both (Macionis and Plummer, 1998).  Similarly, as there appears to be a distinct manifestation of dialectic between structure and superstructure, Marx pays much attention to the concept of a dominant ideology, in analyzing class-consciousness. 

This dialectical struggle is made manifest in the superstructure where the dominant prevailing “false consciousness” (as seen by Marx) of the bourgeoisie, either suppress or impede the true class consciousness of the proletariat.  As such, the value system of each class strives for hegemony. A two (2) sided struggle emerged at the superstructure level that drives social change.  This explains the dialectical interplay when conflict seeks to threaten the equilibrium in society.

Further analysis of the dialectics of history within Marxian sociology reveals a certain dialectical relationship between and within the two (2) [alternative (end) stages] of society: capitalism and communism.  The focus on this realization as well as one’s criticisms of Marxian thought concerning them will be explained in the two (2) concepts of “dialectical capitalism” and “classless consciousness”.




The concept of “dialectical capitalism” is critical realization of the notion of capitalism, being a presupposition of conflict within society.  Therefore, capitalism is a support of the fact that dialectics existed in this stage of society.  For there to be value consensus, a collective conscience, or class consciousness, then concurrently there is recognition of the existence of conflicting values, conflict, and false consciousness.  As one cannot exist without the other, then the realization of one is the recognition of the other.  The fact is, even where integration or collaboration exist, individuals will always strive for self-preservation, irrespective of the needs of others.  It is that which causes conflict.

            However, even with the existence of conflict, a disgruntled proletarian class and the increasing socio-economic lacunae between classes, it appears that such a conflict has become institutionalized and engrafted in advanced capitalist societies (Haralamlos and Holborn, 2002).  Thus, there may not be any threat to the present social order.  The result is that, it appears that the proletarian class, far from being a class of itself, is dissolving in the “class consciousness” of the ruling class, which has created an emerging middle class, making the class structure of capitalist societies even more complex.

            While the abovementioned arguments may explain to an extent a number of situations in societies, it can be asserted that even with the “false consciousness” of the proletarian class and the super complex structure of the capitalist societies, there will be a group within the groups, that will not be contented with what they have, will also want to overthrow the others.  Similarly, even if this does not occur, and all classes fall to the fallacy of the “collective conscience”, then the mutual ruination of the classes thereby within itself will be a cause for social change.

            Another criticism of Marxian dialectical thought came from Max Weber himself, another founding intelligentsia within the discipline.  In Max Weber’s study ‘Of ascetic Protestantism’, he argued that beliefs, values, ethics and attitudes also drive the development of capitalism, and not the economic factors (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000).  Such a criticism appears rather baseless, as Marx in Capital and Communist Manifesto, did make it clear that change also occur at the super-structural level.  Although Marx prioritized the economic factors (after all he was an economist), they form only one aspect of the dialectic of history.  Therefore the economy is primary, but not the sole determinant of change, as those who own the mode of production also control the thought processes of society (and even that is still economic in its origin). 




Considering (hypothetically) that capitalism came to an end, Marxian thought would assert that it is the final stage of societal evolution.  Here lies, what may seem to be a colossal pool of foolishness, cascading down from an active volcano with fierce less in mild stupidity, in Marxian theories?  It appears that the postulations as purported by Marx is dialectical and contradictory in nature.

            The concept of “classless consciousness” is an abstract criticism of Karl Marx’s predictions on how society will change.  This is abstract in pure philosophical construct.  The fact is history has yet to substantiate Marx’s view of communism and how society would transcend and eventually radical transform to communism.  Though one is sure that the historical materialist and economic determinist he was, he would say that “these things take time, just wait on another evolution or revolutionary epoch.”  Today marks in excess of one hundred years since Marx’s theories were first purported to the world.  Is this time, and is it sufficient time given the World Trade Organization (WTO) position that the gap between the rich and poor economies has significantly widened?    The WTO in 2000 forwarded an argument in a position paper that poverty has increased in the world.  Then, what has happened to Marx’s position that society would change to collectivism?

            The concept also assumes that Marx’s notion of communism is no different from “valued consensus” or the “collective conscience”.  In proposing a classless society, Karl Marx is in fact supporting Functionalist claims – in that there is a consensus in values of the proletarian class upon their realization of their “false consciousness” that will cause him to utilize a collective will and action to overthrow, subdue and dissolve the bourgeoisie into usurping ‘proletariat consciousness’, thus forming a classless society.  Hence, a ‘classless consciousness’ will take over and allow for the sustaining and maintaining of a communist society – but is this really feasible and probable given the structures in our society?

            Perhaps, perhaps not – in his postulations, Marx forgot the individualistic, possessive, territorial, materialistic values and attitudes of man that drove him from a classless society (Primitive Communalism) to a class society (Ancient Slave Owning).  It may make for fascinated readings and information truths for a position paper to be written on the psychological state of man in his/her pursuit of happiness, the role that materialism plays in that cognitive state.  This, therefore, may add an intellectual answer as to the importance of materialistic values in how man organizes him/herself in society. 

            The notion of religion that Karl criticized as it relates to the ‘pie in the sky’ is arguably the same he offered through a philosophic, economic determinist guise.  I must hasten to add that this author has no religious idealism or religious epistemology.  Although an abstract thought, it is arguable as to whether or not communism’s last hope and Marx’s avenue of solace and theoretical redemption is in religion, where the notion of a ‘here after’ may be the ideal communist society.  Or, is this just an abstract theoretical academic construct that has no bearing on realism.  However, even such postulations seem to be punch-drunk, and well out of the realm of sociological theorizing.  This, now, lends itself for further research as needed answers must be sought that will explain the probable ness of Marx’s idealism.

            In retrospect, although Marxism theories on the whole was influenced by Hegelian idealism and dialectical thoughts, it was by rejecting and criticizing Hegelian dialectical idealism that Marx postulated a notion of dialectical materialism in explaining how society exist over time.

            Difficulties, however, arise in accepting the Marxian view of the origin of society from a material economic basis.  Juxtaposed against this view is the Functionalist view that societies exist when there is working out of ideas and plans to get or even know that you have material needs – some form of social contract.  This is, however, still debatable.

            Furthermore, Marx did not adequately forward reasons for the emergence of private ownership within (Primitive communism) classless societies.  What drove men to seek the private acquisition of wealth as opposed to still looking out for others?  In the same way there was a change from classless to class society, how then can Marx expect to maintain a classless society such as communism?  Marx must have forgotten the unpredictable behaviour of man even without class conflict.  Even within the Soviet Union up to the 1989, and this nation represented socialism and to some communism, some men were more equal than other.  Within that nation many of the organisms that are evident in capitalist countries like the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy to name a few were evident in that society.  Thus to support Communism, Marx supported “value consensus” or the existence of a pre-capitalist dominant consciousness that will unite society.  Given the materialistic values and idealism of man today, is Marx’s consensus assumption possible?

            It is, however, unambiguously clear that dialectic and conflict goes hand in hand in Marx’s sociology on the whole and their role clear and fundamental essential to Marxism theories.  Therefore, dialectics in context is the Marxian process of change through the conflict of opposing forces, whereby a given contradiction is characterized by a primary and secondary aspect; the secondary aspect succumbing to the primary, which is then transformed into an aspect of a new contradiction (

            Similarly at the foundation of dialectics is the theory of change and conflict which fuels progression through mounting antagonism between what Marx calls the mean and relations to the mean production.  It is the relation of these social productions, which “constitute the economic structure of society” (Preface, 1973, i )

            Another sociologist who is lauded with the accolade of being one of the founding fathers is Emile Durkheim. According to Dr Orville Taylor (2003:17), Du Bois’ empirical scientific research was the first empirical work with the discipline of sociology in the American sociology.  In his view,

           In 1896, he was commissioned to carry out a study on the African descendants             in the Philadelphia area.  The study comprising more than fifteen months of work,

            eventually became the first real empirical work in American sociology, The Philadelphia Negro.  This work is of particular significance for the historical development of sociology as a science.  Within the chronology of sociology’s emergence as a science it is positivist.  Even more important is the fact that it was not only an attempt  to apply a scientific methodology to the study of social phenomena, but it utilized social facts, popularized by Durkheim in his Rules of the Sociological Method (but traced back at least as far back as Ibn-Khaldun), to explain the condition of Blacks in Philadelphia.  His conclusion is as doctrinal to the discipline as one can get.  In regard to the Blacks he Declared, “His strange social environment must have immense effect on his wealth and            pauperism.  That this environment differs and differs broadly from the environment of his fellows …” (Du Bois 1971a:284).


            From Dr Taylor’s writings, Du Bois’ works predated the contributions and empirical writing of Emile Durkheim who is among the fathers of sociology.  Both the traditional and contemporary sociological thinkers argued, Emile Durkheim’s empirical work on suicide used the science of positivism to establish a generalization of suicide in sociology.  Durkheim’s work on suicide was similar that of Du Bois who predated him.  Then, why is Du Bois not a founding father of the discipline given the fact of his pioneering contribution to the study of sociology?  The answer lies in the same phenomenon that he spent his life studying.

             We will now critically analyze the works of Emile Durkheim.  The study that helped to propelled him to the zenith of sociology is that on Suicide.  In his work, Durkheim’s main aim was concerned with the concept of social solidarity, how societies ‘hand together’ to function as one synchronized entity. He strongly recommended that the social life of the individual should not be studied distinctly from a biological or psychological approach.  His approach in studying society was that of the deductive method.  He believed that society makes the individual what (s) he is.  Whatever rules society makes the individual has to abide by them so that society will function as one entity and as a whole.  All structures of the society also are inter-related and functions as one unit at large.  As a result, he goes on to distinguish a social fact from a psychological fact.  A social fact, he states as a phenomenon that is larger than the individual who has two main characteristics – externality and constraint.  Externality refers to the outside factor and constraint comes from within the individual.  On the other hand, a psychological fact as cognition which has to do with the mind, thinking or thought processes of the individual.

             Durkheim posits that “Crime represents a social fact and not all men in a given society are criminals.”  By this Durkheim means that crime is an issue that comes from the societal level and stems automatically from the society.  Society causes crime and the social variable within it causes crime.  However, not all men are criminals and crime can only be associated with some men and not all.  Using his social fact that constitutes the externality and constraint, externality would refer to all the factors in the society that causes the individual to resort to illegal activities.  Such main factors are unemployment, economic instability or depression, poverty among other factors but these being the most important.  All these elements are produced by man based on the decisions they make within society, and a negative action will arise because man has no choice but to resort to criminal activities.  Therefore, Durkheim would conclude that crime is caused by the society and not from the individual.  However, the individual has a choice of not participating in criminal activities based on his level of constraint that comes from within.  Deviancy can be viewed as a social fact and can be compared with crime.  The end product of deviancy is crime.  Society and the individual are both responsible for their acts of deviancy.  Exteriority can be traced to deviancy in that man’s behaviour has breached the norms and values of one’s society.

            Durkheim like W E B Du Bois used the science of positivism as a tool to propel this branch of social science as being able to use the principles of the natural science.    In Durkheim’s contribution to sociology, his study on Suicide is of utmost importance to the field.  It helps society to analyze critically the factors influencing man to commit suicide.  In studying this phenomenon, he describes four types of suicide – Anomic, Egoistic, Altruistic, and Fatalistic Suicides.  He believed that Suicide should not be analyzed from a psychological perspective only but also from a sociological perspective which must take into consideration social factors. 

            Durkheim also focuses his study on mechanical and organic solidarity.  According to Durkheim, simple societies with undeveloped division of labour have strong and well-defined states of the ‘conscience collective’ and a mechanical form of social solidarity.  By this he means that because their society is so small and closely intertwined or knitted, individuals do not need to specialize in different skills or modes of production.  They are only familiar with one mode of production.  Before the industrial revolution took place, the society was made up of only Pre-Industrial Families where the members would participate in cottage industries and all other business transactions were done only by the family members.  However, as society became complex more ideas relating to the modes of production developed causing the specialization of goods and services.   As a result, division of labour came about to equate with the needs of competitive goods and services.  With the complexity of the society, individualism came about.  People became more for themselves with the habit or principle of independency and self-reliance.

            Once again Taylor (2003:18) provides us with analytic arguments that within themselves add powerful answer as to why Du Bois may have been sidelined by American sociologists.  In his views,

There is every reason to suspect that Du Bois’ academic contributions would have been stifled because, first of all, his ideas and research opposed the orthodoxy. America was not ready, more than 60 years before the civil rights movement, for a social science which challenged racism.  At this juncture there can be found some utility for the work of Marx, who himself, because of this revolutionary ideas was not taught in American social science.  Marx notes that the class which controls the means of material production also controls the means of ideological reproduction.  In simple works, a White ruling class, with its allies in academia, excluded the work of Du Bois from its central role in sociology?(Taylor, 2003, 18)


            Taylor’s (2003:18) monograph showed that Marx offered a powerful theoretical explanation for Du Bois’ exclusion from the founding fathers of the body of works known as sociology.  Marx position was unambiguously clear in that the capitalists controlled both financial resources and ideological thoughts and so Du Bois’ work that sought to topple the status quo could not be placed in the forefront of ideological bases as its purpose was to recreate and destroy the capitalists’ position on which they have invested everything. In Taylor’s (2003:18) view,

While America had to wait 40 years for the emergence of its conservative defender Talcot Parson, before it had a sociology which represented its ideology.  Parsons resuscitated the ghost of Spencer and Durkheim and their organic model, and advanced the notion of socialization but steered clear of the race issue.  Like the classical theorists, he presented a colour-blind sociology which makes assumptions about the value consensus, suggesting that roles are for the benefit of society on the whole.  From this approach we find the work of Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore (19450 who implicitly justify racism by suggesting that society is a meritocracy and the unequal divisions within society serve the interest of the whole.  In the end sociology, as it was in the nineteenth century, is a defence of the status quo (Taylor, 2003:18)



            Karl Marx’s argument undoubtedly answers the position of the capitalists as it relates to Du Bois.  Despite the fact that Professor Dr. Du Bois’ research on The Philadelphia Negroes used empiricism and all the scientific rigours to theorize its findings, and was the first sociological research in America of its kind, and being non-capital (an exponent of communism) may explain why this pioneer was not idealized worldwide by capitalists’ world.  Dr James Jackson states that Du Bois, the scholar and scientist, was equally a man of action.  He chose to keep the banners and goals of full equal rights flying high.  Jackson later, so rightfully stated that W E B Du Bois was a great fighter for the African people, a true scientist, thinker and humanist.  He (Du Bois) held aloft a bright torch of poetic inspiration that lightens the way and illuminates the path of all who struggle for freedom.  The question that Du Bois posed and dealt with along the way of his arduous life will find resolution on the path that he chose the route of the great humanist and social scientist.

            From what has been forwarded and discussed, William Edward Burghart Du Bois is a founding father.  He led a life of principle and example.  Du Bois is responsible for many of the cherished memories that black people share.  In addition to memories, he is instrumental in garnering many of the human rights that Black Americans enjoy today.  Du Bois was the driving force behind the non-physical confrontational approach taken by Dr Martin Luther King.  In that, he believed in education and not physical confrontation as the answer to the Africa-American problem.  Du Bois knew what he wanted and worked relentlessly to achieve his ultimate goal: the establishment that the black are equally competent and that their position is as a result of a created environment.  He came about when there were a lot of sociological questions to be answered and he indeed, answered much of them including that of racism.  Du Bois should also be credited for giving some insight on how the fundamental question of life should be answered.  The work of W E B Du Bois The Philadelphia Negroes will always carry an air of prestige and honour for all black to see.  He had other works such as The Soul of Black Folks and Black Reconstruction to name a few writings, which Dr Du Bois has left behind that, have made indelible mark on our societies and by extension history.

            In concluding with Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx being elevated to the pinnacle of founding fathers of sociology, with the discussion brought forth herein, Dr W E B Du Bois is undoubtedly a pioneer and a founding father of the discipline named sociology.  In the FBI (1942, 7) document, Du Bois was stated as a professor of a Negro university. Embedded in this proclamation is a separatist demeaning of the academic status of Du Bois by the FBI as to infer that value of his scholar must be low as it is only at a black university.  This implies that Williams’ worth should be measured based on the place he taught; and that more weight would have been given in the event it was a Caucasian tertiary institution. Whereas no other documentation implied that Professor Dr. Du Bois was only a mere professor of a Negro university, the FBI’s monograph summarized how the hegemony perceived Williams, and may justify the measures that saw him being whiteout from the annals of greatness within the discipline of sociology. In an effort to substantiate my assertions, here is a quotation from the FBI (1942) document on Professor Dr. Du Bois:


            From the FBI documentation and the quotation above, Du Bois was not compared to any Caucasian in Atlanta but with the same inferior people at the time.  The writings of the FBI can be interpreted as Professor Dr. Du Bois, is a Negro academic, of which he is the best of the worst stock. This statement is not only racial but emphasizes the depth of separatism that existed in America at the time; and the struggles of the Black race. Here is another quotation that showed the belittling of the worth of Professor Dr. Du Bois, and implies the mega-structure stance against an educator:


                                                                                                (FBI, 1942)

            In Ideaz, Dr Orville Taylor (2003:19) summarized the political and sociological dilemma unlike none other, when he wrote that:   

            Yet, the so-called founding fathers were affected by a number of other political     and economic developments that they were only able to see in a limited context    and exclusive of the African influence.  The very pillar of modern society that the            classical theorists take as the main subject matter for their theories is             conceived of in an anti-historical fashion, bereft of the contribution of and the       relationship with African population (Taylor 2003, 19).


            The statements above offer many explanations for the marginality of the Blacks within our society as they live within a White world.  So, DuBois’ exclusion from the high echelons of sociological scholarship is not an accident, but it is as a result of his blackness and the purpose of his works.  He sought to challenge the White establishment by his life’s works.  Who was DuBois to challenge an ordered status quo?  As such, DuBois’ empirical works, although they were significant and the first of their kind in the sociology of America, the Whites, being the controllers of the financial resources, were able to easily sideline the black scientist.  Therefore, to Professor Dr. DuBois, let the peace to which you fought be your comfort.   As the Africans for which you fought have elevated themselves within various scholarships in an effort to exhibit the depth of the race.  In the new world, brother Dr DuBois, we recognize your epistemological construct and scholarship left behind as materialist pillars upon which we shall endeavour to build and encourage other blacks to read hereafter. 

            According to Hynes (2003):


            But, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, history cannot ignore W.E.B. DuBois because history has to reflect truth and Dr. DuBois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man (Hynes, 2003)


            Dr. Martin Luther King’s monologue encapsulates Dr. DuBois’ blatant opposition to the social structure and his quest for a revolution of what obtained as he believed that there is equality among all races. This was in keeping with the social order of the hegemonic class, as they had established the society of white separatism doctrine and racism, to which Dr. DuBois was challenged using his very life and contributions to scholarship.  Despite Professor Dr. DuBois’ academic social research, he is still not elevated to the status of an icon in sociology.  I believe that this means that the history books should be rewritten, and that the present hegemonic caste be revamped.  This implies toppling what presently exists. The underlining rationale is simply the reformation of a non-social exclusion structure that benefits all and not only the supporting structure.          The contributions of William DuBois are hidden in his grave as he is awarded many accolades but what eludes him, is the history for which he found.  The annals must be refashioned as Professor Dr. DuBois has expounded on the definition coined by Auguste Comte without a call to the bar of sociologists.  The very matter to which he dedicated his life to address has changed but has remained primarily the same – ostracization of the Black race from the foundation of civilization, history and discovery.  The discipline of sociology owes an ethical responsibility to DuBois to elevate him to the zenith of the pioneers of the subject.  One of the questions which continue to whitewash my psyche is the blatant disregard for scholarship by scholar. In that, contemporary sociologists themselves have unknowingly (or knowingly) trampled on the legacy of Professor Dr. DuBois by neglect of non-recognition of his value and position in the discipline of sociology.  I will leave you with the responsibility of answering the following question ‘Did social exclusion, racism and segregation end in the 21st century?’

            I hope that within you, was awoken the spirit of DuBois, and the issue of then and where we should belong now.  According to Zuckerman (2004):

            W E B Du Bois was a political and literary giant of the 20th century, publishing over twenty books and thousand of essays and articles throughout his life. He was one of the most imaginative, perceptive, and prolific founders of the sociological discipline. In addition to leading the Pan-African movement and being a leading activist for civil rights Du Bois was a pioneer of urban sociology, an innovator of rural sociology, a leader in criminology, the first American sociologist of religion, and most notably the first great social theorist of race (Zuckerman, 2004)


From Zuckerman’s monograph, the obvious thing on DuBois’ non-recognition to the apex of the subject matter of sociology is the power of the mega-structure that existed then and continues to exist now. 


       I will provide some information taken from the North Carolina Central University’s website from which my question will emerge ‘what is happening to the contributions of Dr. DuBois to the space of sociology in sociological texts and claim of him being a father of the discipline?  According to North Carolina Central University (2005)

            DURHAM, N.C. — Robert Wortham, professor in North Carolina Central University’s (NCCU) Department of Sociology, and Anna Owens, an NCCU graduate student in sociology, have had articles published in Sociation Today’s special issue devoted to the sociology of W.E.B. Du Bois and the Atlanta School of Sociology.

            The special issue is co-edited by Wortham and George Conklin, also a NCCU professor of sociology.

            Wortham’s article “An Introduction to the Sociology of W.E. B. Du Bois” provides a general introduction to Du Bois' methodological approach to the study of African American quality of life, while Owens’ article, “Suggested Further Readings by W.E.B. Du Bois,” contributes an annotated bibliography, which addresses some of Du Bois’ key sociological studies during this early period (1898-1910).

            The special issue addresses Du Bois’ use of census, original survey and ethnographic data in the study of African American quality of life, the work of the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory, his understanding of the interaction among race, class and gender as well as the impact of religion on the sociological imagination.

            Sociation Today, which is housed in NCCU’s Sociology Department, is a web-based, open-access refereed journal. The articles appear in the spring 2005 issue, Volume 3, Number 1 and can also be located through the NC Sociological Association web site at and

            W.E.B. DuBois was a prolific writer and a social activist. He is particularly well-known for his book The Philadelphia Negro in which he anticipated many modern methods of social analysis. Du Bois was also one of the founding figures of the American sociological tradition and may have started the first “School of Sociology” in the United States.

            Prior to assuming the editorship of The Crisis, the NAACP’s official publication, Du Bois spent twelve years developing an undergraduate and graduate program in sociology at Atlanta University and directed the research activities and publications of the “Atlanta Sociological Laboratory (NCCU, 2005).


            I ask of ‘thee’ that you make the spirit of DuBois’ mission kindle with objectification in your scrutiny of the world while you seek to comprehend or study any social phenomenon. I implore ‘thee’ to embrace the search for ‘truths’ be it socially constructed or natural so that you may have an understanding of what is and not what has been fed to you.



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Broderick, Francis. 1978.   W E B DuBois:  Negro Leader in a Time of Crisis.  California:  Stanford University Press.

Byerman, Keith E. 1981"Hearts of Darkness: Narrative Voices in The Souls of Black Folk." American Literary Realism 14 (1), 43-51.

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Clarke, John Henrik, et al.  1970.  Black Titan:  W.E.B. Dubois. Boston Press.


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Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co.; [Cambridge]: University Press John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A., 1903;, 1999. Retrieved on September 21, 2006 from http://www.bartley. com/114/.


Du Bois, W E B.  1968.  The Autobiography of W. E. B. DuBois:  A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life From the Last Decade of Its First Century.  New York:  International Publishers Company Inc.


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Fontenot, Chester J. 1976. "Walker: 'The Diary of an African Nun' and DuBois' Double Consciousness." Sturdy Black Bridges: Vision of Black Women in Literature. Eds. Roseann P. Bell, Bettye J. Parker, and Sheftall Beverly Guy. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

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arranging the mass of accumulated material

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Michael B. Katz is Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Improving Poor People: The Welfare State, the "Underclass," and Urban Schools as History, among other books. Thomas J. Sugrue is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Katz, and Sugrue, 2006)




Wilberforce University (formerly Wilberforce College)


This tertiary level educational institution was formed in 1856 by African-Americans. It was the first of its kind (i.e. the first university to be owned and operated by Black Americans.  The school got its name from the 18th century English statesman who was an abolitionist, Sir William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce is affiliated to the A.M.E. church, and is associated with the United Negro College Fund (Wikepedia, 2006)



Wikepedia. 2006.  Wilberforce University. Retrieved on September 28, 2006 from



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