Collaboration, Reputation, and Ethics in American Academic Life: HANS H. GERTH AND C. WRIGHT MILLS
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The meteoric rise of the sociologist C. Wright Mills from a brash and ambitious graduate student to a leading figure in the American intellectual establishment was launched by his collaboration with Hans Gerth on two seminal works on Max Weber. The story of their thirteen-year partnership reveals a relationship of Shakespearean complexity in which respect, trust, generosity, and perhaps even love did not exclude envy, resentment, deceit, and betrayal. Gerth, a German emigre, was several years Mills' senior and his mentor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. What began as a graduate student editing and polishing a professor's rough translations evolved into a publishing partnership pairing Gerth's scholarly expertise with Mills' savvy and skill at organizing and negotiating.Their publication of "From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology" in 1946 marked a sea change in American sociology by making key Weberian texts available to social scientists working in the English language. Their second project, "Character and Social Structure", demonstrated how Weber's theories could be put into practice.In the course of exploring the history of the Gerth-Mills association, Guy Oakes and Arthur J. Vidich consider themes central to questions of academic ethics, including how the distribution of knowledge and power in collaboration shapes the social production of authorship, academic reputation, and intellectual authority; how the dynamics of collaboration play into the competition over credit for scientific and scholarly work; and how concealment, secrecy, and deception contribute to the building of academic reputation. Thus, the historic partnership of Gerth and Mills serves as a point of departure for a sustained discussion of essential issues in the ethics and politics of academic life.
"A model of historical scholarship... This is a valuable reading, for it takes us into the back stage regions of the academy, and shows us just how ugly things can be." - Norman K. Denzin, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society "A penetrating insight into American academic life... This is an absorbing thriller; it is also a study of characters, by no means minor; there are few other personalities whose impact on contemporary social sciences has been greater." -- Zygmunt Bauman, The Times Literary Supplement