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A Social Distance Scale. Emory S. Bogardus University of Southern California. IN MAKING the social distance scale in its present form,[1] the writer prepared a. Since , the Bogardus Social Distance Scale has been a staple in social science research. This scale, which is often used to study. Bogardus social distance scale A scaling technique for measuring social distance, pioneered by Emory S. Bogardus in the s, usually applied to the study of.

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This paper was originally presented at the annual meeting of the Social Science History Association, Chicago 18 November Its current form has been much improved by the very helpful suggestions by Claude Grasland, Editor of Cybergeo, and those of sociaal anonymous referees.

The faults ddistance remain are of course my own responsibility. Extensively used today in studies of ethnic, class, bogaardus, status, and many other kinds of relations, social distance is most often measured according to the Bogardus Social Distance Scale, or some modification of it. A search of Sociological Abstracts conducted in yielded more than studies of “social distance” published since alone. Appearing regularly today are studies as diverse and interesting as “Relationships with Waitresses: A representative list of titles from this search is given in the Appendix.

It originated in the distancce mind of Georg Simmel; Robert Park studied under Simmel in Berlin during the s and absorbed it along with a great many Simmelian concepts; Park suggested it to Emory Bogardus, who in turn invented the “Bogardus Social Distance Scale” The concept of “social distance” began in the mind of Georg Simmel as a complex interpretation of sociality as forms of “distance” in both a geometric ie Euclidian and a metaphoric sense.

Most of the items in the Bogardus Social Distance Scale are literally a matter of geometric distance, whereas the significance of geometric distance was completely ignored by Park and Sociap, in favor of a metaphoric sense of distance. This essay is an attempt to contribute to the ongoing and increasingly rich discourse on space in social theory, bogardux tracing the life course of a critical concept as it has been constructed intellectually and deployed empirically.

That social distance needs to be refashioned is bogarsus major conclusion of this essay, but precisely how it must be refashioned is a question that I think we are only beginning to see.

Not only Georg Simmel among the founders of social theory will be necessary for this reconstruction.

This essay, however, maintains a focus on Simmel, Park, and Bogardus as shapers of the contemporary notion of “social distance. Simmel in that famous essay adumbrated a “form” of sociality. In Simmelian terms, the Stranger is a formal structuring of personality, in which the many “contents” such as desires, instincts, and so on, gain their recognizable social shapes. Levine ; Frisbyb Here we must pause to clarify a few terms. In the passage from “The Stranger” quoted above, Simmel contrasts “spatial” with “symbolic.

In the words of Donald Levine, “no thing or event has a fixed, intrinsic meaning: A trader diwtance required only for goods produced outside the group.

A Mead Project source page

He is geometrically in but not meaningfully of the group socil which he is strange. In fact, it presents a reverse view: In this sense, then, Simmel was quite clear in his assertion, quoted earlier, that “spatial [geometric] relations not only are determining conditions of relationships among men but are also symbolic of those relationships.

Why he did so is hardly mysterious: As is well-known, Kant situated knowledge–qua analytical and synthetic judgments–within the intuitive forms of space and time. These two forms are the necessary a priori intuitions, without which we cannot perceive or conceive of objects.

Echoes of Kant reverberate throughout the sociology of Simmel, who believed he had “secured a new concept of sociology” a claim all too common among his generation, but more justified than usual in Simmel’s case”in which I separated the forms of sociation from their contents” Frisby But I would like to suggest briefly here that the geometric-metaphoric split in the self that Simmel conceived of has not been sufficiently appreciated.

Used thoughtfully, it presents a method of interrogating the relationship between form and content while at the same time recognizing the Hegelian insistence on the unity of form and content which is the modern self.


In Simmel’s view, forms are the stable but not permanent outcomes of distances interposed between subject and object which in turn is a division of the self. Before turning to a consideration of the ways these ideas could be exploited today, my next task is to trace their impoverishment in the hands of Robert Park and Emory Bogardus.

In this his work always retained an important dose of W.

But Park never fully escaped an unwarranted ie speculative instinctual foundation for his theory of group interaction. The pathway though his ideas I shall briefly trace here, then follows his work on race relations. That talk was shortly thereafter published sclae the Journal of Applied Sociology, which Bogardus edited, in In the Park-Burgess model, precisely the reverse happens: Park had been Booker T.

Prejudice and Bogardus Social Distance Scale | Viv•i•fy : ( verb) : to endow with renewed life

Their “urban ecology” approach was arguably the most influential paradigm in twentieth-century urban studies. As Castells and others Ethington have observed, this model was distande disastrous case of “naturalizing” social conflict.

This passage from Introduction to the Science of Society “The Green Bible” is quite botardus of the highly speculative grounding of their system: The processes of competition, segregation, and accommodation brought out in the description of the plant community are quite comparable with the same processes in animal and human communities. A village, town, city, or nation may be studied from the standpoint of the adaptation, struggle for existence, and survival of its individual members in the environment created by the community as a whole It then leaps to an unprovable equation of vegetable bgoardus mammalian modes of occupying space.

The third sentence in this appallingly weak syllogism concludes that the complex environments of urban settlements xcale be understood as the simple aggregation of individual struggles for existence. Sadly, given its influence well into the s, the well-known ethnic conflict “cycle” put forth in the textbook: Competition chapter 8 ; Conflict chapter 9 ; Accommodation Chapter 10 ; Assimilation chapter 11 is at bottom an a priori system grounded in fictional comparisons between humans and plants.

Geometric distance in the Park-Burgess model is an outcome of intersubjective processes, and thus merely represents; it does not have a shaping, constitutive role on its own.

That alternative will be taken up in distajce final section. Known best for his development of the concept of “social distance,” Bogardus founded and was Chair of the University of Southern California USC Sociology Department for thirty-one years He trained more than one hundred PhD and MA students and conducted or directed a remarkable output of research into ethnic communities in Los Angeles from through the s.

He was also the founder and editor of Sociology and Social Researcha journal featuring the work of nearly all the leading American sociologists of the twentieth century.

A celebration in his honor brought messages of respect from around the world, but these were decidedly reserved. Burgess praised him primarily for editing Sociology and Social Research; E.

None of these authors suggested that Bogardus had contributed anything to sociology except the social distance scale 5. As we have seen, Park clearly suggested the idea of actually measuring social distance to Bogardus, a debt which Bogardus was always careful to acknowledge Bogardus Bogardus devised a set of seven questions intended to “reduce rationalizing Would have several families in my neighborhood.

Each of the “distance” variables is arrayed as column headings, while ethnic group names are arrayed as row headings. The respondent was instructed to check “as many of the seven columns in each case [ethnic group] as your feelings dictate.

Bogardus social distance scale

On the other hand, it seems obvious that if a respondent would marry into a group, she would also have them as close friends, next door neighbors, etc. The purpose of the modification was to bring the scale more into line with the science of sociometry that had developed by that time Campbell Bogardus followed this original sczle with three more, similarly administered, surveys, in, and Referring again to the Scale, in Table 1, we see that each of the seven response items describe an explicitly geometric distance.


Marriage, involving sexual intercourse, constitutes the most complete boagrdus of geometric distance between individuals short of cannibalism. The respondent was not asked about the effects of these distances, but rather, in perfect accord with the Park-Burgess paradigm outlined above, to use them as a proxy, or representation of the feelings of closeness or farness to a person of a given group.

Thus, the role of these actual, geometric distances in the constitution of feelings was never examined. Dodd and Jiri Nehnevasja to introduce precise metric distances into the Bogardus Scale see Table 2. Table 2 below converts the distances into simple numerical figures for simplicity, in meters and miles. Exile from the United States would take more than km milesbut that distance bgardus certainly work for most of Europe and Latin America.

Killing should probably be set to 10 8or 62, miles, because it is tantamount to expelling from the planet. Otherwise, the Dodd and Nehnevasja scale works remarkably well and elegantly.

Their sole objective, in fact, was to find an even more objective, trans-spatial metric: That the authors could go so far toward a spatial understanding, and still avoid the point, presents such a monumental case of obtuseness, that we are confronted with the extreme svale which the modernist discourse of social science had abolished geometric distance from their conceptions of social being see Soja The authors even begin their article by stating, correctly: In Samuel Stouffer pointed out that ‘distance is such an important factor that it needs more explicit study than it has received.

They then ignore their own advice. By the mids, Frank R. Westie and Margaret L. Westie had subjected the Bogardus Scale to rigorous sociometric revision.

Their revised instrument was a plus item questionnaire that actually contained four separate social distance scales 10for which they reported a test-retest reliability coefficient of. In other words, race prejudice was greatly modified by a factor of up to 2 times by socioeconomic status.

In his methodological writings on social distance,Frank R. For example, while devising indicators of aversion to social closeness, Westie and coworkers tested the following question: Westie’s careful probing scalf the Bogardus method revealed a bedrock aspect of the metaphor of soccial Most of the geometric distances in the Bogardus Scale were not in fact matters of choice.

Regarding Bogardus Score item 1, marriage between whites and nonwhites was in fact illegal in most states of the U.

Anti-miscegenation laws, in fact, were not invalidated by the U. Supreme Court until in the well-named case Loving v. Considering the Bogardus Score pertaining to residential proximity 3 in ; 4 and 6 inracially restrictive covenants in residential property deeds were the norm in the United States until the U. Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in Shelly v. Apartheid laws force all members of a nation-state to observe the social taboos on which those laws were originally based.

In the American South, C. Vann Woodward demonstrated long ago, racial mixing geometric proximity in public places such as parks was quite common until the introduction of Jim Crow laws in the s. Outside of the South, the introduction of racially restrictive covenants did not begin until the s, during a period of massive mobilization of racial hatred, which included the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and the enactment of the restrictive immigration laws of and That research agenda lies outside this brief paper.

I want to conclude, however, with some brief comment on the status of social distance measures in contemporary sociology. The theoretical collaboration of sociologists and geographers–as in the work of Anthony Giddens and Alan Pred, Anssi Paasi, Yi-Fu Tuanhas been especially productive.

Critical, feminist, and neo-marxist urbanists, including Roselyn DeutschEdward SojaManuel CastellsDavid Harvey,Mike Davisand especially Henri Lefebvre, have contributed to this growing international research agenda into the reciprocal reproduction of social and spatial relationships.

Metaphoric distance is strangeness: