Synopses & Reviews
These skillfully written essays are based on the Georg Simmel Lectures delivered by Neil J. Smelser at Humboldt University in Berlin in the spring of 1995. A distillation of Smelser's reflections after nearly four decades of research, teaching, and thought in the field of sociology, the essays identify, as he says in the first chapter, ". . . some central problematicsthose generic, recurrent, never resolved and never completely resolvable issuesthat shape the work of the sociologist."
Each chapter considers a different level of sociological analysis: micro (the person and personal interaction), meso (groups, organizations, movements), macro (societies), and global (multi-societal). Within this framework, Smelser covers a variety of topics, including the place of the rational and the nonrational in social action and in social science theory; the changing character of group attachments in post-industrial society; the eclipse of social class; and the decline of the nation-state as a focus of solidarity.
The clarity of Smelser's writing makes this a book that will be welcomed throughout the field of social science as well as by anyone wishing to understand sociology's essential characteristics and problems.
"Filled with original and arresting observations, this is a creative, elegant, and systematic statement of some of the most important themes faced both by contemporary society and contemporary sociology."Jeffrey Alexander, University of California, Los Angeles
Based on the Georg Simmel Lectures delivered at Humboldt University in the spring of 1995, Problematics of Sociology is a distillation of Neil Smelser's reflections after nearly four decades of research, teaching, and thought in the field of sociology. Each chapter considers a different level of analysis: micro, meso, macro, and global. Within this framework, the themes considered range over a variety of topics, including the place of the rational and nonrational in social action and in social science theory; social institutions as imagined entities; the eclipse of social class; and the decline of the nation-state as a focus of solidarity.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 99-106) and index.
About the Author
Neil J. Smelser is Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California, and University Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His many books include Social Paralysis and Social Change: British Working-Class Education in the Nineteenth Century (California, 1991). Hans-Peter Müller is Professor of Sociology at Humboldt University, Berlin.