Getting Sociology Right: A Half-Century of Reflections

Univ of California Press
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Neil J. Smelser, one of the most important and influential American sociologists, traces the discipline of sociology from 1969 to the early twenty-first century in Getting Sociology Right: A Half-Century of Reflections. Examining sociology as a vocation and building on the work of Talcott Parsons, Smelser discusses his views on the discipline of sociology and shows how his perspective of the field evolved in the postwar era.
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About the author

Neil J. Smelser is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University from 1952 to 1954. At twenty-four, he coauthored Economy and Society with Talcott Parsons. He earned his PhD in sociology from Harvard in 1958 and was a junior fellow of the Society of Fellows. From 1994 to 2001, he directed the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

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Publisher
Univ of California Press
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Published on
Apr 12, 2014
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Pages
329
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ISBN
9780520958487
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

This new edition introduces the social science audiences of a new century to one of the classic highlights of the mid-twentieth century. This is the most general statement of the general theory of action as it was developed by its principle exponent, Talcott Parsons, and his close collaborators who formed the core of the fabled department of social relations at Harvard University. Toward a General Theory of Action is an extremely ambitious formulation of the ingredients, dimensions, and ranges that determine human behavior.

Parsons and Shils enunciate principles that are at the core of contemporary social science preoccupations-including the precarious balance between social integration and conflict. The volume is at once universal in intent and highly personal, an expression of Parsons' thought, one of the most notable sociological theorists of the century. Finally, the book symbolizes the interdisciplinary impulse that typified a widespread belief in the unity of the sciences. This edition includes the collaborative group's introductory statement, Richard Sheldon's essay on the theoretical and philosophical status of the general theory of action, and "Values, Motives and Systems of Action" by Parsons and Shils.

Guy Swanson, writing in the The American Sociological Review, noted that "Parsons and Shils have performed a major service in clearing away many old controversies, in showing the reasonableness of a behavioral foundation for general theory in social science as a whole and in sociology in particular, in clarifying the interrelations among many concepts, and in the insightful interpretation of particular pieces of data." It is testimony to this book's continuing significance that it continues to generate new lines of research and writings.

Talcott Parsons and Edward A. Shils are now deceased. Parsons had a lifelong association with Harvard University, and Shils had an equally long distinguished service at Chicago University in the United States and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. The special editor for the Transaction edition, Neil J. Smelser is director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, at Stanford University. From 1958 through 1994 he served on the sociology faculty at the University of California at Berkeley. He is author of many books in the areas of social theory, social change, economic sociology, social movements and the sociology of education.
The foundation of this volume is the notion that the several processes of change constituting economic and social development are systematically interrelated. The essence of development is the appearance of rapid rates of increases in many different indices--output per capita, political participation, literacy and the like. These quantitative changes are, however, commonly accompanied by vast changes in the social structure--markets emerge, political bureaucracies arise, and new educational systems appear.

Written by the leading authorities on the subject, this group of papers tackles the causes and consequences of social mobility. Each author brings his particular skills to bear on various aspects of the problem in studies of persons moving from rural to urban settings, from one kind of industry to another and from one prestige level to another. Several of the papers review the theoretical and methodological issues involved in comparative research on social mobility while others compare and contrast traditional and modern stratification systems.

Various papers explore the economic, religious and psychological basis of social mobility, concluding with enquiry into the consequences of rapid mobility, especially in terms of the political stability of developing nations. Because social mobility is a central consideration in any study of economic and social change, every student of change will use this pioneering reference source as a text for all future research. Contributors include Otis Dudley Duncan, Harold L. Wilensky, Michael G. Smith, Bert F. Hoselitz, Wilbert E. Moore, Natalie Rogoff Ramsy, Gideon Sjoberg, Reinhard Bendix, Harry Crockett, David Matza, Lester Seligman, and Gino Germani.

Neil J. Smelser is emeritus professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley. Seymour Martin Lipset was professor of sociology and director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
For several decades the writings of sociologist Neil J. Smelser have won him a vast and admiring audience across several disciplines. Best known for his work on social movements, economic sociology, and British social history, Smelser's psychoanalytic writings are less familiar to his readers. In fact, many people are completely unaware of Smelser's formal psychoanalytic training and ongoing counseling practice. With the publication of The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis, Smelser's thought-provoking essays on psychoanalytic concepts are finally brought together in one book.

Psychoanalytic theory has had an ambivalent relationship with sociology, and these essays explore that ambivalence, providing arguments about how and why psychoanalytic approaches can deepen the sociological perspective. One of Smelser's main tenets is that human social behavior always contains both social-structural and social-psychological elements, and that psychoanalytic theory can bridge these two dimensions of human social life. Many of the issues Smelser addresses—including interdisciplinarity, the macro-micro link in research, masculinity and violence, and affirmative action—have generated considerable scholarly interest.

This collection paves the way for further articulation of the relationship between sociology and psychoanalysis at a time when many sociologists are looking for interdisciplinary links in their work. Presented with clarity and grace, and free of the murkiness often found in both sociological and psychoanalytic writing, Smelser's new book will excite reflection and research on the less visible dynamics of social existence.
The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of economic sociology available. The first edition, copublished in 1994 by Princeton University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation as a synthesis of the burgeoning field of economic sociology, soon established itself as the definitive presentation of the field, and has been widely read, reviewed, and adopted. Since then, the field of economic sociology has continued to grow by leaps and bounds and to move into new theoretical and empirical territory.

The second edition, while being as all-embracing in its coverage as the first edition, represents a wholesale revamping. Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg have kept the main overall framework intact, but nearly two-thirds of the chapters are new or have new authors. As in the first edition, they bring together leading sociologists as well as representatives of other social sciences. But the thirty chapters of this volume incorporate many substantial thematic changes and new lines of research--for example, more focus on international and global concerns, chapters on institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, organization and networks, and the economic sociology of the ancient world. The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures. It is a must read for all faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field.


A thoroughly revised and updated version of the most comprehensive treatment of economic sociology available
Almost two-thirds of the chapters are new or have new authors
Authors include leading sociologists as well as representatives of other social sciences
Substantial thematic changes and new lines of research, including more focus on international and global concerns, institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, and organization and networks
The definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures
A must read for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field

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