Sociology as a « fashion » ? Editorial uses of the « sociology » label late nineteenth-century France
Taking off from statements made by major sociologists at the end of the nineteenth century regarding a sociology « fashion » in France, the article applies a bibliometric method to ascertain whether such a « fashion » existed, understanding sociology first as a matter of editing and publication. A corpus of over 400 printed works published between 1841 and 1925, all with the word « sociology » in the title, reveals a spectacular rise in number of occurrences of the « sociology » label around 1900. While most of the authors involved partook of a scientific and intellectual movement involving sociology and the social sciences, the fact that there was no scientific monopoly on the term « sociology » made possible non-scholarly – in most cases ideologically motivated –uses of the term. The sociology « fashion », then inheres in the interaction between these two phenomena and may therefore be considered an episode in sociology’s cultural history.