Section 1: Themes and Issues 1
Section 2: Analysing Human Society 1 9
Section 3: Analysing Human Society 2 21
Section 4: Research 31
Section 5: General reading 33
This Annotated Bibliography is set out along the lines of the different unit titles, thus texts on religion will also be found in the same section as power and politics. What is important for the reader to note, however, is that in many of these texts, there is a considerable crossover of relevance in terms of their applicability to different topics. For example, many of the indicated works relating to power and politics will also be directly relevant to organisations. The textbooks on globalisation generally touch most of the topic areas of AH Sociology in one way or another. It would be useful, therefore, to review the breadth of literature indicated in order to give oneself access to the widest possible range of information.
Benton, Ted, Philosophical Foundations of the Three Sociologies, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977
This is an effective book on the relationship between philosophy and the social sciences. Benton begins by investigating an understanding of what is meant by philosophy, its link to the physical and natural sciences, and possible alternative explanations. The main thrust of this work is an analysis of positivist explanations of social life. Comte’s epistemological and empiricist sociology gives way to an explanation of 20th-century positivism, or, according to Benton, logical empiricism. An account of the positivism applied in the natural sciences takes on board issues such as notions of realism versus phenomenonalism, and confirmationism versus falsificationism. Next, the author evaluates Durkheim’s ‘rules’ of sociological method, making observations on the relationship between social facts and the necessity of science, and social facts and the autonomy of sociology. Kantian and neo-Kantian philosophical explanations are then provided before Benton addresses Weber’s interpretivism, and Marx’s economic determinism. Finally, the author draws comparisons between the materialism found in Marx and Durkheim’s respective theories, and attempts to establish the possibility of a realist and materialist defence of a proposed ‘natural science’ of history; one which avoids what the author argues are the fundamental flaws of interpretivist and positivist philosophy.
Boyne, Roy and Rattansi, Ali (eds), Postmodernism and Society, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990
This is a useful text of edited articles by a range of sociologists, both supporters and critics of postmodernist theory. The first article charts the initial development of postmodernist theory and its subsequent growth. Other essays in this book link postmodernism with the development of language, fashion, the arts, architecture and feminism. There is an interesting critical argument concerning what the author (Callinicos) believes to be the often reactionary nature of that particular theory. The editors, as well as many of the contributors to this text, have, nevertheless, provided an important discussion of the sociological, political and economic relevance of postmodernism, particularly in relation to stratification as a result of race and gender.
Callinicos, Alex, Making History: Agency, Structure and Change in Social Theory, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987
In this book, Callinicos provides a critical Marxist account of the historical development of social theory and human relationships with social structures.
He provides a solid description of concepts such as social structure and
historical materialism, and compares them with interpretivist and utilitarian theories of social action. A key part of the author’s work, here, is a critical discussion of ideology and power, including that exercised by nations, states and the military. He critiques these with reference to the way the latter use a dominant hegemony to ensure that a capitalist superstructure maintains control over the economic infrastructure by portraying it as both inevitable and ‘common sense’. Callinicos offers revolutionary alternatives to what he sees as this type of ‘blinkered’, shortsighted hegemony. A substantial portion of this book is used to tear apart what Callinicos views as ‘watered-down’ (and hence a misinterpretation of orthodox) Marxism, such as that argued by ‘analytical Marxists’, including Althusser, Habermas, etc. He is also highly critical of theories such as the post-structuralism of Foucault, and Giddens’ structuration.
This is a very useful text with which students can access critical, radical sociology.
Coser, Lewis A, Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971
This book provides a very useful overview of positivist and interpretivist theories and theorists from the sociological world, notably amongst the ‘founding fathers’. Thus, Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen, Charles Horton Cooley, Robert Ezra Park, Vilfredo Pareto and Karl Mannheim provide a distinguished list of sociologists/philosophers whose work, to varying degrees, has shaped the sociological thinking throughout the world. Coser breaks the book down into individual chapters on each theorist, and then evaluates what he argues are four key areas of each individual’s life and work. Beginning with an analysis of the theoretical premise of each theorist, he sets out their respective intellectual arguments for understanding social behaviour in human societies. Further, Coser’s text is very useful for the reader, as he places his synopsis of the work of the aforementioned in the context of their research methodologies, their individual social circumstances that may have influenced their patterns of thought, as well as the wider social context within which their work was conducted. This book is also useful in terms of its ‘Foreword’, which is written by that major exponent of functionalist theory, Robert K Merton.
Crow, Graham, Comparative Sociology and Social Theory: Beyond the Three Worlds, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997
of the ‘second (Soviet-style communist) world’. Since this collapse in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Crow argues that relations both within and between
different states and different ‘worlds’ has changed fundamentally. Making use
of the contributions of classical and contemporary social theorists, the author makes an informative comparative analysis of the world before and in the current era of globalisation. He takes the reader through a chronological discussion of the making of the ‘modern’ world; the development and proliferation of different forms of capitalism (organised and disorganised); the rise of and contradictions in the state (both capitalist and Stalinist); and the mixed experience of the third world, and how the world is perceived to be in the current era of globalisation. Crow ends this comparative analysis by discussing the increasing unpredictability that globalisation brings, and the challenge that this brings for sociology and social theory.
Giddens, Anthony, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971
In this book, Giddens provides an analytical account of the works and theories of three of the ‘founding fathers’ of sociology – the diametrically opposed forms of structuralism of Marx and Durkheim, and the interpretivism of Weber. Giddens takes each of these three theorists in turn, beginning with a critical discussion of their early writings and key themes drawn from them, and how these themes were developed in subsequent publications. Thus, the chapter on Marx discusses class relations and capitalist development; the chapter on Durkheim, sociological method, individualism and religious and moral discipline; and the chapter on Weber, the impetus Protestantism gave to capitalism, rationalisation, and religion and Western capitalism. Giddens completes this book with a chapter demonstrating Marx’s influence on the development of social theory, and tackles the notion of social differentiation and divisions of labour.
Giddens, Anthony, The Constitution of Society, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1984
In this work, as in many of his works, Giddens attempts to overcome the divisions between both structural and action explanations, arguing that each such explanation is indistinguishable from the other. It is due to this that he uses the term ‘structuration’ – an indication that by definition one demands an input by the other. To support his argument, Giddens applies his theory to a small range of explanations, for example, verbal and written communication. His point is that language is a structure, or set of rules, whereby people are able to communicate effectively. However, language also demands a degree of human agency and, as such, has the ability to be transformed to some degree by its use by agents over time. Giddens’ explanations in this book move on to the rules and resources of structure, different social systems and the role of agency in the reproduction of such things as knowledge and the ability to transform society through social action.
Goffman, Erving, Asylums. Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961
A classic work of Goffman’s, Asylums consists of four essays that continue his interpretivist tradition of understanding human behaviour. Indeed, Goffman is concerned in this book to interpret the experiences of patients and inmates within psychiatric institutions, rather than provide some justification for structured and compulsory care within them. Thus, his research is that of an observer, choosing not to be associated with the formal rules of the system/institution that keeps them confined. This collection of essays was based on research undertaken over a three-year period, and consisted of brief studies of ward behaviour, participation in an academic institution, and fieldwork at a psychiatric hospital. The latter consisted of a degree of participant observation, though with significant limitations recognised by Goffman. The essays, in turn, begin by discussing the characteristics of the institutions; then what he calls the pursuit of a ‘moral career’ by the mental patient; the third is the actual (‘participant’) observational study; and, finally, an explanation of the ‘medical model’ of psychiatric hospitalisation.
NB: This is a very useful book for those students who undertake the Research unit, particularly in relation to Goffman’s explanation of the problems associated with his own primary qualitative research.
Goldblatt, David (ed.), Knowledge and the Social Sciences: Theory, Method, Practice, London: Routledge/The Open University, 2000
This textbook, produced for a level 1 introduction to social sciences courses with the Open University, is ideally suited to the equivalent level of Advanced Higher. It provides an innovative and novel approach to social scientific thinking, concerning itself with differences between what might be perceived as knowledge, and the perception and meaning of that knowledge in different contexts. For example, Chapter 1, ‘Science and society: knowledge in medicine’, outlines the changes that medical knowledge (and knowledge about medicine) has undergone over time, and how medical knowledge in one country/culture might not be accepted as legitimate in another. In the first instance, homeopathic medicines, which have experienced a substantial revival in recent years, was argued to be archaic, ignorant, and unacceptable for many years – certainly since the ‘medicalisation’ of health. In the second instance, some cultures might, perhaps quite rightly, be suspicious of Western attempts to press such a medical health model on them. One such example is a French pharmaceutical company in the 1990s pressing the notion on developing and under-developed cultures to use their brand of powdered milk for feeding babies, rather than the mothers’ naturally produced milk, on the grounds that the synthetic milk was healthier. This was not the case! Other chapters include discussions and debate relating to positivist and interpretivist approaches to religion, different forms of knowledge relating to the environment, and how societies appear to have become more fragmented.
Hollis, Martin, The Philosophy of Social Science: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994
This interdisciplinary text provides a good introduction to social scientific philosophy, including both the positivist versus interpretivist and structure versus action debates. Its usefulness is underlined by the way the author demonstrates some of the linkages between social science subjects in terms of their respective approaches to a variety of topics, such as power relations, the foundations of knowledge, etc. Chapters of particular relevance include Chapter 1, ‘Problems of Structure and Action’, which begins with a look at ancient philosophy and then moves on to ‘The Enlightenment’, and the different forms of determinism of Hobbes, Locke, Mills and Marx. Weber’s explanation of rationality and social action is also addressed. Chapter 3, ‘Positive science: the empiricist way’, discusses such social science questions relating to probability and logical positivism. With a reasonably in-depth analysis of Rouget’s work, Hollis describes how positivist theorists tend to have a reliance on ‘hard’ or quantitative data than ‘soft’ or qualitative data. Chapter 7, ‘Understanding social action’, discusses the notion of human action having four kinds of meaning, such as the expression of intention and emotion; the distinction between the meaning of an action and what the actor means by it; normative versus rational expectations; and concrete understanding versus interpretive understanding. Other chapters relate to such issues as the definition between explanations and understanding and rationality and relativism.
NB: Aspects of this text will provide some use for those students undertaking the Research unit.
McLellan, David, Karl Marx: Selected Writings, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977
McLellan’s highly comprehensive volume of a large portion of Marx’s work covers the latter’s very early theoretical pronouncements to some of his last publications. This edition also includes some of the correspondence between Marx and like-minded thinkers of that time, which helps us gain a context to some degree to Marx’s writings. Included within this volume are abridged versions of his work criticising Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, The German Ideology, The Communist Manifesto, Grundrisse, and Capital. This book also includes a very useful chronology and bibliography for further material.
Reiss, Edward, Marx: A Clear Guide, London: Pluto Press, 1997
This is an interesting and, as the title suggests, clear guide to Marx, both the individual and the inspirational social/economic theorist. The book begins by providing a backdrop to Marx’s experience as a developing ‘sociologist’, and a useful chronology of events is included. The author then approaches Marx’s
theory with a sympathetic eye, tackling many of the key theoretical issues, such as alienation, class, capitalism, revolution, socialism and communism, and ideology. Reiss also seeks to clarify Marx’s position on issues such as gender, colonialism and religion, as well as what Marx would have been likely to conclude on the adoption and application of his theory by the Soviet Union. He ends this text by discussing the validity, relevance and attraction of Marxism in the contemporary period.
Ritzer, George, Sociological Theory, second edition, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1988
This is a comprehensive text in terms of its coverage of a range of key sociological thinkers since the development of sociology as an academic discipline. The book is divided into two parts, classical sociological theory and contemporary sociological theory. Part One begins with an overview of industrial development, urbanisation, the rise of socialism, and the growth of sociology in France, Britain, Italy and Germany. This is followed by detailed chapters covering Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Simmel; each of which addresses their respective theories and methods. Part Two identifies and discusses later sociological developments, such as the rise and fall of the Chicago School of Sociology, the ascendancy of Marxist sociology, and the introduction of theories such as structuralism and post-structuralism, as well as the challenge presented by feminist theory. Chapters in this section discuss structural functionalism (Parsons, Merton), neo-functionalism (Alexander, Colomy), neo-Marxism (Lukacs, Gramsci, Habermas, Althusser, Poulantzas), symbolic interactionism (Mead, Blumer, Goffman), phenomenology (Husserl, Schutz) and ethnomethodology (Schegloff, Garfinkel), exchange theory (Durkheim, Levi-Strauss, Homans) and behavioural sociology (Skinner), and feminist theory (Bernard, Smith). The book’s final two chapters discuss what the author sees as recent developments in sociological theory (i.e. post-structuralism and existentialism) including the emergence of a ‘central problem’; what he calls the macro-micro link. Ritzer discusses a range of theories in the last chapter, including Giddens’ structuration, Habermas’ integration of action and systems theory, humanist and structuralist integration, and ‘methodological individualism’.
Rossides, Daniel W, The History and Nature of Sociological Theory, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1978
This text begins with an interpretive framework, within which sociology
is introduced in terms of its development alongside the liberalist political
and economic tradition. What the author argues is that because of the developments from ancient Greek civilisation to the age of Enlightenment and beyond, Europe underwent a long and sustained period of transformation that allowed the rationalism, and with that, the positivism and interpretivism of sociology to foster. Rossides covers a whole swathe of theorists of largely
functionalist and social action sociological leanings. His work, whilst rather comprehensive in terms of its coverage of liberalist theory, is weak in its coverage of more radical positivist theories, covering both Marx and Marxist theory in the space of a few pages in a 500-word plus text. This should not, however, preclude this book as a useful sociology resource, as its critical conclusions of each theorist/theory, along with their respective empiricist and interpretivist strengths and weaknesses, are well laid out.
Toffler, Alvin, Future Shock, London: Pan, 1970
Though somewhat dated, and rather a populist version of sociology, this book does provide some useful discussion of how sociologists try to identify future trends by reference to the past and the present. Toffler, looking at both structures and social action, deals with a wide range of topics, such as unrestrained technological development, urbanisation, religion, biology, gender, the family, sexuality sub-cultures, art, broadly accessible knowledge, and democracy, to name but a few. In so doing, he makes many assumptions about the direction that the world will travel considering the pace with which it is travelling. His book was somewhat controversial at its initial publication, due to the relative candidness with which he discussed topics such as divorce, homosexuality, etc. A key theme throughout this book is that human society is becoming ever more transient as a result of the unremitting pace of technology; this, he suggests, is likely to have an increasing psychological impact on us, as our senses become increasingly over-stimulated and more stressed. This, he argues, is likely to make us ‘victims of future shock’ – the uncertainty of what the developments of tomorrow might bring.