Stalking Sociologists: J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Surveillance of American Sociology

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Transaction Publishers - Social Science - 239 pages

Until recent years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation enjoyed an exalted reputation as America's premier crime-fighting organization. However, it is now common knowledge that the FBI and its long-time director, J. Edgar Hoover, were responsible for the creation of a massive internal security apparatus that undermined the very principles of freedom and democracy they were sworn to protect. While no one was above suspicion, Hoover appears to have held a special disdain for sociologists and placed many of the profession's most prominent figures under surveillance. In Stalking Sociologists, Mike Forrest Keen offers a detailed account of the FBI's investigations within the context of an overview of the history of American sociology.

This ground-breaking analysis history uses documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Keen argues that Hoover and the FBI marginalized sociologists such as W. E. B. Du Bois and C. Wright Mills, tried to suppress the development of a Marxist tradition in American sociology, and likely pushed the mainstream of the discipline away from a critique of American society and towards a more quantitative and scientific direction. He documents thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars dedicated to this project. Faculty members of various departments of sociology were recruited to inform on the activities of their colleagues and the American Sociological Association was a target of FBI surveillance. Keen turns sociology back upon the FBI, using the writings and ideas of the very sociologists Hoover investigated to examine and explain the excesses of the Bureau and its boss. The result is a significant contribution to the collective memory of American society as well as the accurate history of the sociological discipline.

"This ground-breaking book documents in meticulous detail decades of harassment and surveillance of major American sociologists by the FBI. The misuse of power...will outrage all Americans and raise significant professional issues within the social sciences."--Mary Jo Deegan, professor of sociology, University of Nebraska

Mike Forrest Keen is professor in the department of sociology at Indiana University South Bend. His previous work includes numerous scholarly articles and Eastern Europe in Transformation: The Impact on Sociology, edited with Janusz L. Mucha.


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Bibliography 2004

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Page vi - There can be no real academic freedom in that environment. Where suspicion fills the air and holds scholars in line for fear of their jobs, there can be no exercise of the free intellect. Supineness and dogmatism take the place of inquiry. A "party line" — as dangerous as the "party line" of the Communists — lays hold.

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