Rereading The Jack-Roller: Hidden Histories in Sociology and Social Work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Publication details

JournalQualitative inquiry
DatePublished - Jul 2009
Issue number7
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)1241-1264
Original languageEnglish


I revisit one of the iconic Chicago School studies, Clifford Shaw's The Jack-Roller. A naive reading of Shaw's book leaves the reader with a sense of having been inducted into a melange of what we now know as "sociology" and "social work," but which to Shaw seems a coherent stance. I suggest that this is close to the heart of how things were, and not a temporary distortion in the distinct histories of sociology and social work. I develop and illustrate this argument through a hidden history of an intellectual case for reciprocity between the two disciplines as seen in some barely noticed work of Ernest Burgess. I conclude with a suggested rereading of The Jack-Roller that supports a relationship between sociology and social work based on egalitarian respect and a commitment to practicing history in the sense of positioning ourselves in a historical context.

    Research areas

  • Chicago school, Burgess, social work, The Jack-Roller, Edith Abbott, RECORDS

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