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Charles Horton Cooley Biography

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Dead Sociologist Assignment

        Charles Horton Cooley was born on August 17, 1864 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was the son of Mary Elizabeth Horton and the State Supreme Court Justice and law school professor Thomas McIntyre Cooley. When young Charles was somewhat of a withdrawn, passive child. He felt intimidated by his fathers success, which was a feature that haunted him for most of his life. Cooley attended the public schools of Ann Arbor and graduated high school in 1880. Charles went to University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, where his father used to teach at. He eventually graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1890 he went bak to school for political economy and sociology. There was no set lectures in sociology, so he was forward test questions by Franklin Giddings, an American sociologist and economist. Charles’ essay, “The Theory of Transportation” was most memorable for its conclusion that towns and cities tend to be built at the connection of transportation routes.

        Charles also married Elsie Jones, who was the daughter of the first Dean of the Homeopathic Medical College at the University of Michigan. They eventually had three kids; one boy and two girls. Charles built a cabin for his family ay Crystal Lake in Northern Michigan. In 1894, Charles received his PhD on philosophy. In 1892 he got a job as an instructor for political economy at the University of Michigan. After seven years then became an assistant professor of sociology and taught the first sociology class at the University of Michigan. He became the main professor in 1907. He was offered multiple positions at the universities around the world, but he never wanted to leave here his father and wife taught. Charles was very inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goth, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Darwin. Charles wanted to highlight the connection society and an individual. He felt these two things could only be understood in a relationship with one another. One's personality comes from one’s influences. He coined the concept of the “ looking-glass self”, the social determination of the self. This eventually influenced George Herbert Mead’s theory of self and symbolic interactionism.

        In 1899, he created, “Personal Competition”, he established primary groups,  the base of one’s values , feelings and beliefs . He hoped that by bring up the importance of primary groups, people might bring back traditional values and maintain social unity. In 1909, Charles worked on “Social Organization”.Charles extended his ideas further, focusing on the importance of primary groups. He believed the influence of one primary group was so great that one would cling to primary ideals in more complicated partnerships. In 1918 Charles wrote “Social Process”. This emphasized the irrational and temporary nature of social organization and the effect of social competition. Charles proclaimed ,” troubles were caused by the conflict between the primary group values and institutional values.” In 1905 Charles participated in the founding of the American Sociological Society. In 1907 he presented a paper called,” Social Consciousness.” Then in 1917, “ Social Control in  International Relations.” He was its eighth President in 1918. His presidential address was titled “A Primary Culture for Democracy.” March of 1928 Charles was diagnosed with cancer. He died on May 7,1928.

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