What is charisma? And how does it generate influence and power? World-renowned sociologist Randall Collins explores these and many other questions in a highly readable exploration of the various forms of charisma and how charisma elevated Jesus, Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, Queen Elizabeth, Hitler, Churchill, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Madame Mao Zedong, and others. He explores four types of charisma: frontstage, backstage, success-magic, and reputational charisma. Not everyone has the same kind of charisma and Collin’s identifies important differences and their relations to power. The book exemplifies Collin’s sophisticated micro-sociology in accessible and compelling prose, quietly building subtle matrices of analysis that show how sociology unveils hidden discoveries.
Table of Contents
1. Jesus in interaction: the micro-sociology of charisma
2. Playing off networks: becoming Lawrence of Arabia
3. When are women charismatic leaders? Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Madame Mao Zedong
4. Charisma and self-destruction: Marilyn Monroe's networks pulled her apart
5. What is charisma anyway? And how do you get it? Eleanor Roosevelt; Adolf Hitler
Appendix Three micro-sources of power
Randall Collins, Professor of Sociology Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, is a world-renowned sociologist. Among his recent books is Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory.
Mysterious and seductive, magical and elusive, charisma has long challenged efforts at rational social scientific explanation. Randall Collins has picked up the gauntlet. In a trademark act of elegant simplification he unlocks the two-step process through which certain individuals manage to capture, hold onto or lose this enigmatic power. Reinforced by perceptive case studies Charisma is certain to become a landmark statement in the field as it creatively straddles sociology, history, psychology, anthropology and religious studies.
Philip Smith, Yale University
In today's hashtag culture of watered-down ideas, charisma is little more than a positive reference to yet another humdrum, favorite child. Using archives on select celebrities, Collins breathes life into charisma as a product of energy and behavior sequences in social networks. The contribution is opportune, given widespread interest in network behavior. Favorite chapters describe four paths to charisma, T. E. Lawrence as a successful network broker, and Marilyn Monroe torn apart by networks. Collins has done it again. This is an engaging, consequential work.
Ronald S. Burt, University of Chicago
Why are some persons especially adept at attracting followers and influencing others? What do Jesus, Lawrence of Arabia, Marilyn Monroe, and Madame Mao Zedong have in common? Find out the answer while enjoying riveting stories about these individuals. It takes a truly great theorist to make social theory plain and simple. A book not be missed by anyone who delights in a good story or a good theory!
Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China
In Charisma, Randall Collins draws on the sociology of networks and the theory of interaction ritual chains to illuminate one of the least understood concepts in sociological theory. Employing his gift for communicating complex ideas accessibly, Collins examines charisma in a range of historical settings, as it was exercised by Jesus, Hitler, Joan of Arc, Marilyn Monroe and many others. Readers will never see these figures – nor will they ever think about charisma – in the same way again.
Paul Dimaggio, New York University