This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It draws together a team of outstanding international scholars, and presents an authoritative and panoramic critical survey of the field. The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines the classical tradition. Included here are critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. This part conveys the classical tradition as a living resource in social theory, it demonstrates not only the critical significance of classical writings, but their continuing relevance. The second part moves on t

Sociological Rational Choice

Sociological rational choice

Many discussions of contemporary sociological theory are infused with a sense of disenchantment (Alexander, 1998). The expectation that theoretic development would prove cumulative is now seen by many theorists as a mirage. The field grows increasingly theoretically fragmented. Luminaries in one sub-field are frequently unaware of their contemporaries in other sub-fields. Theoretic fragmentation and micro-specialization divide the field into ever smaller and more isolated islands. These developments in sociology mirror larger intellectual trends. For example, a symposium of historians studying different facets of the French Revolution concluded that they had nothing to learn from one another.

Intellectual fragmentation due to micro-specialization is compounded by an additional fault line. Writing in the 1950s, C.P. Snow described the emergence of two cultures, science ...

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