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Jessie Shirley Bernard was a prominent and unusually visible contemporary American sociologist who over her professional lifetime changed from a traditional positivist sociology to a feministically informed viewpoint Bannister 1991 Privately Bernard struggled with her Judaic heritage conflicting pressures for family and career and the demands made by Bernards husband All of the battles that Bernard faced throughout her life were essential in the creation of Bernards sociological theories Bernard was born in Minnesota on June 8 1903 to Roman Jewish parents who had recently immigrated to the United States With an entrepreneurial capitalist father and a stay at home mother Bernard was raised in a suburban middle-class family Bernard 1989326 Upon entering high school in 1916 Bernard was taught by suffragist teachers who subtly transmitted a feminist message during class lectures Bernard 1989 325 As a 2nd generation immigrant during a time when immigration was a major concern to white Americans Bernard although a United States citizen felt torn and confused about her place in society Occasionally mocked for her Romanian and Jewish background Bernard understood for the first time the situation of the two black families in her town Further Bernard was exposed to her older sisters radical socialist friends and their persuasive arguments and beliefs Conscious of the controversial issues surrounding her Bernard began her lifelong investigation of injustice of all kinds most notably racism and sexism When Bernard was only 16 years old in 1920 she enrolled at the University of Minnesota initially as an English major Deegan 1991 71 Following one recommended Sociology course Bernard fell in love with the discipline Bernard declares it is not surprising to me now that a young woman with a background like mine would with a little encouragement become a sociologist Bernard 1989 325 In 1925 one year after finishing her masters degree Bernard married one of her considerably older sociology professors LL Luther Lee Bernard Deegan 199171 Bannister 1991 49 Although having already
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