The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

Univ of California Press
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This bold and innovative book traces the phenomenon of the "odyssey" experience as it shapes, informs, and defines our lives. Drawing on an astonishing range of examples, Neil J. Smelser focuses on how such experiences enhance our lives and provide us with meaning and dignity. The odyssey experience, as Smelser advances it, is generic, widespread, and recurring. It is a finite period of disengagement from the routines of life and immersion into a simpler, transitory, often collective, usually intense period of involvement that culminates in some kind of regeneration. By examining a variety of topics as part of a larger, overarching phenomenon, Smelser transforms their study from the particular to the comparative. The Odyssey Experience thus reaches beyond a simple description of where and how transformations occur in daily life to offer a profound explanation for why they are there.
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About the author

Neil J. Smelser is University Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous books, including The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis, Problematics of Sociology, and Social Paralysis and Social Change, all from UC Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of California Press
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Published on
Mar 5, 2009
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Pages
286
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ISBN
9780520943421
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Neil J. Smelser
Neil J. Smelser
Terrorism is the most clear and present danger we confront today, yet no phenomenon is more poorly understood by policymakers, the media, and the general public. The Faces of Terrorism is the first serious interdisciplinary examination of terrorism in all its facets. What gives rise to it, who are its proponents and how do they think, and how--and why--does it work?

Neil Smelser begins by tackling the fundamental problem of defining what exactly terrorism is. He shows why a precise definition has eluded us until now, and he proposes one that takes into account the full complexities of this unconventional and politically charged brand of violence. He explores the root causes and conditions of terrorism, and examines the ideologies that inspire and fuel it throughout the world. Smelser looks closely at the terrorists themselves--their recruitment, their motivations, the groups they form, their intended audiences, and their uses of the media in pursuing their agendas. He studies the target societies as well, unraveling the complicated social and psychological impacts of having to cope with the ever-present threat of a terrorist strike--and responding when one occurs. He explains what it means to live under constant threat of terrorism, and addresses the thorny domestic and foreign policy challenges this poses. Throughout, Smelser draws from the latest findings in sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, psychology, psychiatry, and history.

The Faces of Terrorism provides the breadth of scope necessary to understand--and ultimately eliminate--this most pressing global threat.

Talcott Parsons
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.
Neil J. Smelser
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.
Neil J. Smelser
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.
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