HUNTER, FLOYD, 1912-1992.
Floyd Hunter papers, 1933-1989

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322

404-727-6887

rose.library@emory.edu

Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zgn8

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hunter, Floyd, 1912-1992.
Title: Floyd Hunter papers, 1933-1989
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 662
Extent: 20.75 linear ft. (47 boxes)
Abstract:Papers of sociologist Floyd Hunter, including speeches, lectures, articles, correspondence, biographical material, and audio-visual material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Special restriction applies: Reproduction of entire unpublished manuscripts without permission of donor or his representative prohibited.

Source

Gift, 1989.

Citation

[after identification of item(s)], Floyd Hunter papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Processing

Processed by T. Ralph Peters, August 1989.


Collection Description

Biographical Note

Floyd Hunter, (1912-1992) social worker and administrator, community worker, professor, and author, was the originator of the "power structure" concept in contemporary sociology. Hunter was born on 26 February 1912, in Richmond, Kentucky, son of Jesse Hunter, a farmer, and Dovie Benton. He attended Richmond public schools, and received both his B.A. (1939?) in social science and his M.A. (1941) in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. He married Ester Araya Rojas on 23 December 1937, and the couple had four children.

Hunter began his career as a social worker in Texas in the early 1930s, and moved to Chicago and then to Indianapolis around 1940 to enter social work administration. From there he went to Atlanta in 1943 to head the southeastern regional office of the U.S.O., and from 1946 to 1948, to head the Atlanta Community Council. Following a political dispute with business leaders over the use of public property for a Wallace campaign rally (which had been allowed in the case of the Republican campaign), Hunter was fired from his position. With his wife and four children, he then moved to the University of North Carolina, where he received his Ph.D. (1951) in sociology/anthropology. His doctoral dissertation at U.N.C., Community Power Structure (1953) became his most famous published work. A penetrating look at the power of business elites in Atlanta, it was followed up in another study, Community Power Succession, published in 1979.

After receiving his degree, Hunter was a professor at U.N.C. until 1960. Through the sixties, Hunter headed two research firms, Social Science Research and Development Corporation and Decision Data, both based in the San Francisco area. He was a Fulbright Research Professor at the University of Chile in 1964, and from the early through the late 1970s, was a visiting professor at several universities, including the University of California, the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Harvard.

Meanwhile, he wrote many books and articles, both fiction and nonfiction. Aside from the 1953 and 1979 works mentioned above, he published The Big Rich and the Little Rich (1965), Top Leadership, U.S.A. (1959), and Community Organization: Action and Inaction (1956). His unpublished efforts include several works of fiction and an attempt (1989) to combine the natural and social sciences into a "social physics" or "social relativity".

Before the more theoretically oriented The Power Elite (1956) by C. Wright Mills, Hunter had established an empirical base for the demonstration of the existence of an "elite" social group in control of the economic and political resources of American communities and societies. His life work was oriented around how this elite used "power" as a tool to accomplish its goals. Most of his work is devoted to the illustration, explanation, and proposed solutions to the problem of the structured inequality inherent in a system of "power elites". Much of his unpublished non-fiction, such as Radical Democracy (1972) and The Underrepresented (1965), follow in this same line.

His influence on theoretical developments in sociology and other disciplines that utilize the concept of "power" has been substantial. Likewise, his methodology, "reputational" approach, has also had a profound influence on the debate over how scholars should conduct "power" studies. Hunter died on March 20, 1992 at his home in Sonoma, California.

Floyd Hunter, (1912-1992) social worker and administrator, community worker, professor, and author, was the originator of the "power structure" concept in contemporary sociology. Hunter was born on 26 February 1912, in Richmond, Kentucky, son of Jesse Hunter, a farmer, and Dovie Benton. He attended Richmond public schools, and received both his B.A. (1939?) in social science and his M.A. (1941) in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. He married Ester Araya Rojas on 23 December 1937, and the couple had four children.

Hunter began his career as a social worker in Texas in the early 1930s, and moved to Chicago and then to Indianapolis around 1940 to enter social work administration. From there he went to Atlanta in 1943 to head the southeastern regional office of the U.S.O., and from 1946 to 1948, to head the Atlanta Community Council. Following a political dispute with business leaders over the use of public property for a Wallace campaign rally (which had been allowed in the case of the Republican campaign), Hunter was fired from his position. With his wife and four children, he then moved to the University of North Carolina, where he received his Ph.D. (1951) in sociology/anthropology. His doctoral dissertation at U.N.C., Community Power Structure (1953) became his most famous published work. A penetrating look at the power of business elites in Atlanta, it was followed up in another study, Community Power Succession, published in 1979.

After receiving his degree, Hunter was a professor at U.N.C. until 1960. Through the sixties, Hunter headed two research firms, Social Science Research and Development Corporation and Decision Data, both based in the San Francisco area. He was a Fulbright Research Professor at the University of Chile in 1964, and from the early through the late 1970s, was a visiting professor at several universities, including the University of California, the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Harvard.

Meanwhile, he wrote many books and articles, both fiction and nonfiction. Aside from the 1953 and 1979 works mentioned above, he published The Big Rich and the Little Rich (1965), Top Leadership, U.S.A. (1959), and Community Organization: Action and Inaction (1956). His unpublished efforts include several works of fiction and an attempt (1989) to combine the natural and social sciences into a "social physics" or "social relativity".

Before the more theoretically oriented The Power Elite (1956) by C. Wright Mills, Hunter had established an empirical base for the demonstration of the existence of an "elite" social group in control of the economic and political resources of American communities and societies. His life work was oriented around how this elite used "power" as a tool to accomplish its goals. Most of his work is devoted to the illustration, explanation, and proposed solutions to the problem of the structured inequality inherent in a system of "power elites". Much of his unpublished non-fiction, such as Radical Democracy (1972) and The Underrepresented (1965), follow in this same line.

His influence on theoretical developments in sociology and other disciplines that utilize the concept of "power" has been substantial. Likewise, his methodology, "reputational" approach, has also had a profound influence on the debate over how scholars should conduct "power" studies. Hunter died on March 20, 1992 at his home in Sonoma, California.

Scope and Content Note

The Floyd Hunter papers consist primarily of Hunter's writings and related materials dating from 1933 to 1989. Also included is family, personal and professional correspondence (1954-1988).

Series 1 (Fiction: Unpublished, 1950s-1970s) includes works written for various audiences including children. Writings are found here in both complete manuscripts and various stages of notes or drafts.

Series 2 (Non-Fiction: Unpublished, 1957-1989); Series 3 (Non-Fiction: Published, 1942-1980); Series 4 (Speeches, Lectures, Articles, 1940s, 1960s, 1970s); and Series 6 (Ideas and Working Papers, 1933-1984) provide the most information on Hunter's political sociology contributions. Related correspondence may be found in the personal and professional correspondence in Series 7.

These series reveal the importance of his work to the "elite" model of political-social-economic control. Hunter and C. Wright Mills represent in part a crystallization of an American "Power elite" school in sociology which follows the earlier "conflict" model established by Karl Marx in the nineteenth century. As such a new model represented a challenge to American sociology which had until the late 1950s been oriented toward a "pluralist", or more specifically a structural functionalist, perspective, Hunter's papers provide in-depth documentation of this development in American social thought and theory. These papers also provide a glimpse into the history of reformist thought in the twentieth century, since Hunter's early career and writings express a kind of liberal social gospelism.

Papers in these series are arranged primarily in topical groups reflecting Hunter's own filing order. Of particular note are drafts and other materials in Series 3 relating to Hunter's works Community Power Structure (1953) and Community Power Succession (1979), both of which addressed the power of business elites in Atlanta. Related materials about social power may be found in Series 2, Series 4, and Series 6, while materials concerning Hunter's later work in the area of social relativity are concentrated in Series 2. Also contained in Series II are autobiographical and genealogical papers. Series 5 (Research Reports and Hunter Corporations Records, 1959-1968 contains research reports, files of notes and data, and minutes and other corporate records documenting the work of Hunter's research firms, Social Science Research and Development Corporation and Decision Data. Decision Data correspondence may be found in Series 7. Reflected in this series are research projects undertaken by Hunter independently and by contract on such topics as power, housing, employment, poverty, economic development, and agriculture. Research, relating to his sojourn in Chile is also included.

Series 7 (Correspondence and Biographical Material (1954-1989) includes family correspondence (1957-1988), general correspondence (1964-1982), correspondence with various presses (1954-1981), personal and professional correspondence (1981-1986), and correspondence from Hunter's firm, Decision Data (1967-1968). Each of these groups of correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Also included in this series is biographical material which includes a photocopy from the entry on Hunter by T. Ralph Peters in 20th Century Supplement Encyclopedia of World Biography (Palatine, Ill. : Jack Heraty and Associates, Inc, 1992), the obituary article prepared by the Hunter family (1992), and a 1989 article from the Sonoma (Calif.) Index Tribune that discusses Hunter.

The largest concentration of material in this series is correspondence between Hunter and the University of North Carolina Press which published Community Power Structure (1953) and Community Power Succession (1980). The personal and professional correspondence in this series provides the most information on Hunter's academic work, and includes reactions to his work, his reactions to the work of others, and discussions of the "pluralist" v. "elite" model in political sociology.

Organization Note

Organized into eight series: (1) Fiction: Unpublished, (2) Non-Fiction: Unpublished, (3) Non-Fiction: Published, (4) Speeches, lectures, articles, (5) Research reports, Hunter Corporation materials, (6) Ideas and working papers, (7) Correspondence and biographical material, (8) Audio-visual material.


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