Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1896-1965) Jesuit priest and sociologist; founder of the American Catholic Sociological Society.

After earning a B.A. and an M.A. in psychology from Gonzaga University, Ralph Gallagher completed his theological studies at St. Louis University. There he entered the doctoral program in sociology, gaining his Ph.D. in 1932 and going on to study social work at Fordham University. He became a member of the sociology faculty at John Carroll University in 1933, and in 1936 became the first Chairman of the Department of Sociology at Loyola University Chicago, where he remained as Chair until 1963. He established Loyola's Institute of Industrial Relations in 1941, retaining his title of Director until his death.

Gallagher's areas of primary interest were criminology and penology. He led efforts to reform and professionalize the Chicago Police Department, holding intensive in-service seminars and training programs for police officers, correctional, probation, and parole workers. Gallagher believed social principles could not be divorced from social practice. From the beginning of his professional career when such ideas were not fashionable, Gallagher's sociological perspective was value oriented.

With three other sociologists, Francis Friedel, Louis Weitzman, and Marguerite Reuss, Gallagher was responsible for founding the American Catholic Sociological Society and quickly became its moving spirit. It would, he hoped, be a haven for Catholic sociologists alienated by the positivistic and antireligious climate he and his colleagues perceived in the American Sociological Society. More than that, it would show that one could be loyal both to a church and to scientific objectivity. The outcome was the March 1938 meeting that would lead to the formation of the American Catholic Sociological Society. He served as the first President of the society, then as Executive Secretary from 1938 to 1962, wielding considerable influence over the existence and progress of the organization. In 1940, Gallagher established the ACSS journal, American Catholic Sociological Review , and served as its editor for over a decade. In the 1960s, the focus of the review and of the organization shifted from the general field of sociology to the sociology of religion.

Loretta Morris


P. Kivisto, "The Brief Career of Catholic Sociology," Sociological Analysis 50(1989):351-361

L. Morris, "Secular Transcendence," Sociological Analysis 50(1989):329-350.

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