LSE pioneered the teaching of sociology, offering the first sociology course in any British University in 1904. It has since played a unique historical role in defining and developing the discipline, nationally and internationally.
Edvard Westermarck became Britain's first professor of sociology, closely followed by Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse, when they jointly held the Martin White Chair at LSE from 1907. Both men were pivotal in the establishment and foundation of sociology as an academic discipline and in the refinement of its methodology.
After Hobhouse died in 1929, the tradition of sociology at LSE continued with Morris Ginsberg, who succeeded him to the Martin White Professorship, and the continued support of Westermarck.
Moral evolution was maintained as the central theme, but the appointments of T.H.Marshall and David Glass led to the development of empirically informed sociological analysis, of which Marshall's 1950 lectures on Citizenship and Social Class were classic examples. A Professor of Sociology, David Glass, was elected to the Royal Society in 1971, a rare distinction for a social scientist.
The combination of Ginsberg's 'evolutionary sociology', Marshall's 'citizenship sociology', and Glass's 'political arithmetic' together with student demand for the subject and funding from the Rockefeller, Nuffield, and Skepper foundations, converged to make LSE a pre-eminent institution for sociology in the early post-war period.
The department founded the British Journal of Sociology, publishing the first issue in 1950. LSE sociologists produced the Nuffield-sponsored Social Mobility in Britain in 1954, the product of a five-year research project that established the centrality of the study of social stratification for the next 20 years.
The 1960s saw the rapid expansion of sociology as its own discipline in British higher education, with many of those leading this expansion being LSE-trained or having LSE connections.
In recent years, the sociologist Anthony Giddens, a former LSE masters student and director of the School from 1997 to 2003, has had a profound impact on modern politics. As an adviser to Tony Blair, it was Giddens' 'third way' political approach that helped to engineer the evolution of New Labour. Giddens also took part in the original Blair-Clinton dialogues from 1997 onwards.
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