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Journal Article

W. E. B. Du Bois: Reform, Will, and the Veil

Lynn England and W. Keith Warner
Social Forces
Vol. 91, No. 3 (March 2013), pp. 955-973
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23361127
Page Count: 19
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W. E. B. Du Bois: Reform, Will, and the Veil
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Abstract

While W. E. B. Du Bois is widely recognized for his contributions to the sociology of race, his contributions to the foundations of sociology are largely ignored. His sociology is based on African American reformism, a version of pragmatism, and a contingent historicism. The basic view of sociology is one that emphasizes the role of chance and will as opposed to law and certainty. He called sociology "the science of free will." His view of society is one that focuses on the historical contingency of the structure of society, the malleability of society, and the fundamental feature of American society: a society built around the "color line" or "veil." This view of society is not merely an interesting historical anomaly, but has significant implications for the understanding of and development of contemporary sociology.

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