Ernest Burgess

Rank: 
80

As faculty in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, Ernest Burgess published the comprehensive and highly influential Introduction to the Science of Sociology with his colleague, Robert E. Park.

The two collaborated again in 1925 with their work, The City, where they broke the modern city down into concentric circles which contained each of its essential parts, as they conceptualized them. The book is credited with setting the department of sociology in a new direction and with trailblazing the field of human ecology. The model developed in The City was called concentric zone model, which used concentric circles to understand the functioning of cities. Each circle represented a zone, including one for a central business district, a transitional zone (industrial, deteriorating housing), a working-class residential zone (tenements), a general residential zone, and commuter/suburban zones.

Burgess eventually went on to become president of the American Sociological Association after collaborating with multiple other of his colleagues and studying the institutions of family and marriage, as well as sociological methodology. His ASA presidential address in 1935 was entitled "Social Planning and the Mores," and addressed the need for democratic planning in the new Deal era.