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Davis, Kingsley (1908–1997)

Donald J. Hernandez


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Kingsley Davis, one of the most influential and eminent sociologists of the twentieth century, made major contributions to sociology, anthropology, and demography. A pioneer of sociological theory as it emerged during the 1930s and 1940s, he published prominent papers on the social and normative foundations of legitimate and illicit sexual behavior, marriage and divorce in contemporary societies, intermarriage in caste societies, and the place of children in the family and the broader social structure. Concerned with issues central to the structure and functioning of society, and therefore ideologically, morally, and emotionally charged, Davis's analyses were illuminating, but often perforce subject to extensive debate and controversy, sometimes the focus of challenge from conservatives and other times confounding liberals. A grandnephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and born in Tuxedo, Texas on August 20, 1908, Kingsley Davis earned a BA in English in 1930 from the University of Texas, where he edited the campus literary magazine, and where he continued with graduate study in philosophy, economics, and sociology, earning an MA in philosophy in 1932. He then enrolled at Harvard University, studying with Talcott Parsons, Pitrim Sorokin, W. Lloyd Warner, and Carle Zimmerman, and he taught at Smith College from 1934 to 1936. Davis also was central in the prominent discussion ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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