In spite of their differing rhetorics and cognitive strategies, sociology and literature are often concerned with the same objects: social relationships, action, motivation, social constraints and relationships, for example. As such, sociologists have always been fascinated with fictional literature. This book reinvigorates the debate surrounding the utility of fiction as a sociological resource, examining the distinction between the two forms of writing and exploring the views of early sociologists on the suitability of subjecting literary sources to sociological analysis. Engaging with contemporary debates in this field, the author explores the potential sociological use of literary fiction, considering the role of literature as the exemplification of sociological concepts, a non-technical confirmation of theoretical insights, and a form of empirical material used to confirm a set of theoretically oriented assumptions. A fascinating exploration of the means by which the sociological eye can be sharpened by engagement with literary sources, Fiction and Social Reality offers a set of methodological principles according to which literature can be examined sociologically. As such, it will appeal to scholars of sociology and literary studies with interests in research methods and interdisciplinary approaches to scholarly research.
’Literature, in particular fictional narratives, has had a great appeal to sociologists. Mariano Longo’s book demonstrates why this is no coincidence. It moves from the basics of narratology and theories of fictional narratives to a discussion of the relationship between sociology and literature. It is a solid and very welcome contribution to the field.’ Svend Brinkmann, Aalborg University, Denmark ’Longo's book is a perfect example of a successful encounter between narratology and sociology. It has been tried before, but rarely with such rewarding results. The book offers both methodological advice and fascinating theoretical insights. To be read by all social scientists, students and professors alike.’ Barbara Czarniawska, University of Gothenburg, Sweden ’This is an eloquent, erudite and original study on the relationship between literature and sociology. Drawing on an impressive range of sources, Mariano Longo invites us to challenge the seeming incompatibilities between rhetoric and fact, narrative and objectivity and to think afresh about the literary text as a powerful device of sociological imagination. His achievement is to offer us an illuminating account of sociology as a creative art, as a poetics of science.’ Lilie Chouliaraki, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Introduction; Features and structure of narratives; The cognitive value of fictional narratives; Narratives and sociology: at the roots of a forgotten tradition; Writing sociology: social sciences as texts; When sociologists use literary sources; On the sociological use of narratives