The Art of Social Theory

Princeton University Press
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In the social sciences today, students are taught theory by reading and analyzing the works of Karl Marx, Max Weber, and other foundational figures of the discipline. What they rarely learn, however, is how to actually theorize. The Art of Social Theory is a practical guide to doing just that.

In this one-of-a-kind user's manual for social theorists, Richard Swedberg explains how theorizing occurs in what he calls the context of discovery, a process in which the researcher gathers preliminary data and thinks creatively about it using tools such as metaphor, analogy, and typology. He guides readers through each step of the theorist’s art, from observation and naming to concept formation and explanation. To theorize well, you also need a sound knowledge of existing social theory. Swedberg introduces readers to the most important theories and concepts, and discusses how to go about mastering them. If you can think, you can also learn to theorize. This book shows you how.

Concise and accessible, The Art of Social Theory features helpful examples throughout, and also provides practical exercises that enable readers to learn through doing.

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About the author

Richard Swedberg is professor of sociology at Cornell University. His books include Tocqueville's Political Economy, Principles of Economic Sociology, and Max Weber and the Idea of Economic Sociology (all Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 10, 2014
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781400850358
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Research
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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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A timely and important new book that challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture, from the #1 bestselling author of Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection

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“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”
While most people are familiar with The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, few know that during the last decade of his life Max Weber (1864-1920) also tried to develop a new way of analyzing economic phenomena, which he termed "economic sociology." Indeed, this effort occupies the central place in Weber's thought during the years just before his death. Richard Swedberg here offers a critical presentation and the first major study of this fascinating part of Weber's work.

This book shows how Weber laid a solid theoretical foundation for economic sociology and developed a series of new and highly evocative concepts. He not only investigated economic phenomena but also linked them clearly with political, legal, and religious phenomena. Swedberg also demonstrates that Weber's approach to economic sociology addresses a major problem that has haunted economic analysis since the nineteenth century: how to effectively unite an interest-driven type of analysis (popular with economists) with a social one (of course preferred by sociologists). Exploring Weber's views of the economy and how he viewed its relationship to politics, law, and religion, Swedberg furthermore discusses similarities and differences between Weber's economic sociology and present-day thinking on the same topic. In addition, the author shows how economic sociology has recently gained greater credibility as economists and sociologists have begun to collaborate in studying problems of organizations, political structures, social problems, and economic culture more generally. Swedberg's book will be sure to further this new cooperation.

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

While most people are familiar with The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, few know that during the last decade of his life Max Weber (1864-1920) also tried to develop a new way of analyzing economic phenomena, which he termed "economic sociology." Indeed, this effort occupies the central place in Weber's thought during the years just before his death. Richard Swedberg here offers a critical presentation and the first major study of this fascinating part of Weber's work.

This book shows how Weber laid a solid theoretical foundation for economic sociology and developed a series of new and highly evocative concepts. He not only investigated economic phenomena but also linked them clearly with political, legal, and religious phenomena. Swedberg also demonstrates that Weber's approach to economic sociology addresses a major problem that has haunted economic analysis since the nineteenth century: how to effectively unite an interest-driven type of analysis (popular with economists) with a social one (of course preferred by sociologists). Exploring Weber's views of the economy and how he viewed its relationship to politics, law, and religion, Swedberg furthermore discusses similarities and differences between Weber's economic sociology and present-day thinking on the same topic. In addition, the author shows how economic sociology has recently gained greater credibility as economists and sociologists have begun to collaborate in studying problems of organizations, political structures, social problems, and economic culture more generally. Swedberg's book will be sure to further this new cooperation.

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