A Canon of Non-Fiction discussion

20th Century Sociology

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message 1: by Muzzy (new)

Muzzy | 5 comments Mod
Not my favorite subject. I just stumbled across this quote by the fraud Thom Wolf, recommending every college student read Max Weber's book Economy and Society:

"In 1998, the International Sociological Association named Economy and Society the most important work of sociology of the 20th century. Now, there’s a piece of timid praise for you!—since with that book Weber supplanted Darwin as the greatest theorist of the modern age. Darwin’s theory of Evolution fit only dumb animals comfortably. When it comes to the creature who speaks—namely, man—we must look to Weber’s far grander theory of Status."

message 2: by Ksz (new)

Ksz | 1 comments Do you want to draw a distinction between sociology proper and social psychology? Probably you do, but there is one book that almost certainly belongs to both camps and that is:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5... (The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon) - it is pretty much the kind of staple that a first year student should get to know. Even if some of his thoughts do not seem revolutionary in any way, it is mostly because they have been absorbed into popular culture by now (the book was written in 1895)

Other than that, I'd certainly recommend:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... - (Understanding Media by the ubiquitous McLuhan of "global village" fame) - The writing style borders on the atrocious from time to time (a comparison with the infuriating style of Marx can be drawn here), but I don't think there will ever be a book that sums up the world of media in such a neat little package, even though the book will be 50 years old next year.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9... (The Fall of Public Man by Richard Sennett) - Taking a look at the changing attitudes and social mores throughout history, Sennett is able to confirm his boundless fame by quite accurately describing what we have lost in the transition from what he calls the "public man", who would spend hours and hours discussing ideas in a very public setting, to the current version of society in which we have become almost the opposite: atomized and private.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... (The McDonaldization of Society - George Ritzer) - This is the one that maybe does not belong on the list, but in my mind very connected with the previous one, as it's another perfect snapshot of the state of western societies right now and a great look on how shaped by huge corporations and business machines we have all really become.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... (The Structural Transformation... - Jurgen Habermas) - Another one that fits pretty well with Sennett's inquiries. Habermas is also a widely known name and this is only his first work, but his thesis of the "bourgeouis public sphere" remains the strongest of his career.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... (The Constitution of Society by Anthony Giddens) - This book outlines and explains his theory of structuration which has recently been gathering more and more momentum in the sociology world. A lot of people are discovering just how revolutionary it might prove to be going forward. It very well might be the most "exciting" thing to have happened in the field in quite a while.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... (Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Durkheim) - Finally I present to you one of the books from the golden boy of sociology (not an exaggeration, I've seen student girls BLUSH while discussing him). This one is probably the one that is most deeply ingrained by now, as it is probably the most vast in scope. While it is heavily influenced by the kind of anthropology practiced a century ago, it is still a very powerful book and should certainly be read by all trying to understand how exactly religion features in the framework of society.

Obviously, these are just the most famous things that I could think of at the moment. If you want more, I could certainly supply you with some other less known representatives of the field.

Oh, and in case anybody should wonder, my decision to ignore any of Foucault's vast amount of material is because there was way too much philosophy there to really consider it proper social theory.

I am also fully aware that I must be missing at least two other highly important works (probably much more important than Ritzer in the grand scheme of things), but it's late and I'm tired ;)

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