Park, Robert E.

Park, Robert E. (Ezra)

(1864–1944) sociologist; born in Harveyville, Pa. A University of Michigan graduate, he was a metropolitan journalist for 11 years before earning graduate degrees at Harvard and the University of Heidelberg (1904). He studied southern blacks while assisting Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute (1905–13), and he became a pioneering authority on race relations, later writing such important studies as Race and Culture (1950). As a University of Chicago professor (1913–29), he concentrated on urban sociological problems, a study for which he coined the term "human ecology"; he helped to found urban sociology as a discipline (and also introduced the terms "collective behavior" and "marginal man"). He was an outstanding teacher of graduate students, directing numerous important studies at Chicago and in visiting appointments abroad. His work on collective behavior was perhaps his prime contribution, but he also wrote on social psychology, the community, ethnic relations, and other topics, and his Introduction to the Science of Sociology (with E. W. Burgess, 1921) was influential in promoting empirical research methods. In his later years he was a visiting professor at universities in Asia and at Fisk University (1935–37).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.