The place of Werner Stark in American sociology: A study in marginality

Robin R Das, Fordham University


This study examines the life and career of the sociologist and Fordham University professor, Werner Stark (1909–1985), a highly erudite and prolific scholar, whose work is virtually unread today. Stark is a prime example of academic marginalization, and this study explores the reasons why his work has not found an enduring place in American sociology. His major contributions are analyzed from the standpoint of the sociology of knowledge; not only were his ideas rooted in a pervasive biographical marginality, but their reception in the United States was governed by a perceived incompatibility of outlook with the assumptions and goals of his American audience. In particular, Stark offered an explicitly value-directed sociology, one which asserted the importance of social order, individual discipline, and universal community, at a time (the 1960s and 1970s) when the field's self-understanding as an objective, value-free science was challenged by a small but growing number of sociologists and non-sociologists alike. The marginalization of Werner Stark may therefore be understood as a case of boundary-work, an aspect of American sociology's ongoing efforts to reaffirm its credibility as a social science, efforts that had assumed greater urgency during Stark's years in the United States.

Subject Area

Biographies|Education history|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Das, Robin R, "The place of Werner Stark in American sociology: A study in marginality" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3301435.