Social Darwinism

Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought

Revised Edition

Robert C. Bannister

paper EAN: 978-0-87722-566-9 (ISBN: 0-87722-566-4)
$29.95, Apr 89, Available
cloth EAN: 978-0-87722-155-5 (ISBN: 0-87722-155-3)
$34.95, Out of Print
Electronic Book EAN: 978-1-43990-605-7 (ISBN: 1-43990-605-X)
$29.95 Out of Print
292 pp

"The most systematic and comprehensive effort yet made to assess the role played by Darwinian ideas in the writings of English-speaking social theorists of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries."


Excerpt available at


"In seeking to set the record straight, Bannister cuts through the amalgam with an intellectual shredder, exposing the illogic and incompatibility involved in fusing Charles Darwinís On the Origin of Species with Herbert Spencerís Social Statics.... Bannisterís familiarity with relevant texts and their reception by contemporary social theorists, scholars, and critics on both sides of the Atlantic is impressive."
Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"A fine contribution to Anglo-American intellectual history."
Journal of American History


Introduction: The Idea of Social Darwinism
1. The Scientific Background
2. Hushing Up Death
3. Philanthropic Energy and Philosophic Calm
4. Amending the Faith
5. William Graham Sumner
6. The Survival of the Fittest Is Our Doctrine
7. Neo-Darwinism and the Crisis of the 1890s
8. A Pigeon Fanciers' Polity
9. The Scaffolding of Progress
10. The Nietzsche Vogue
11. Beyond the Battle: The Literary Naturalists
12. Imperialism and the Warriar Critique
Epilogue: From Histrionics to History


About the Author(s)

Robert C. Bannister is Scheuer Professor of History at Swarthmore College.

Subject Categories

American Studies

In the series

American Civilization, edited by Allen F. Davis.

The focus of American Civilization, edited by Allen F. Davis, is American cultural history. In keeping with the interdisciplinary work in this field, which characteristically brings together art history, literary history and theory, and material culture, the titles in this series cover diverse aspects of American experience—from attitudes toward death to twentieth-century design innovations to images of country life in art and letters to trade unions' reliance on religious discourse. The series has been a pioneer in presenting work that uses photographs as historical documents and from its inception has been firmly committed to women's studies. As the first university press series in the field, American Civilization provided the inspiration and the standard for much of the interdisciplinary work developing in the contemporary academy.


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