Founders, classics, and canons have been vitally important in helping to frame sociology's identity. Within the academy today, a number of positions—feminist, postmodernist, postcolonial—question the status of "tradition."
In Founders, Classics, Canons, Peter Baehr defends the continuing importance of sociology's classics and traditions in a university education. Baehr offers arguments against interpreting, defending, and attacking sociology's great texts and authors in terms of founders and canons. He demonstrates why, in logical and historical terms, discourses and traditions cannot actually be "founded" and why the term "founder" has little explanatory content. Equally, he takes issue with the notion of "canon" and argues that the analogy between the theological canon and sociological classic texts, though seductive, is mistaken.
Although he questions the uses to which the concepts of founder, classic, and canon have been put, Baehr is not dismissive. On the contrary, he seeks to understand the value and meaning these concepts have for the people who employ them in the cultural battle to affirm or attack the liberal university tradition.
Table of Contents
2. Founders of Discourse
Founders: Discursive and Institutional;
Deliberative and Appropriated Founders
Wolin and "Epic Theory"
Constitutions, Discourses, Founders
3. Founders of Institutions
The Social Context of Innovation
and Intellectual Networks
The Shadow Group Revisited
Institutional and Deliberative Founding:
Durkheim and the Annee sociologique
The Founder Idea:
A Conjectural Genealogy
4. The Utility, Rhetoric and Interpretation of Classic Texts
A Definition of Classic Texts
Classics in Common? The Uses of Classical
Theory and The Discipline of Sociology
Rhetoric in the Classical Tradition
Understanding Classic Texts
The Historicist Critique and Alternative
Objections to Historicism
5. Classicality: Criteria and Reception
The Stratification of Classic Texts
"Criteria" of Classicality?
Classics and Their "Reception"
Classic Reception, Classic Formation
The Classics, Gender and Sexuality
Excursus on Classic Appraisal
in Sociology and The Arts
"Canon" in Current Social Theory:
Usages and Appraisals
The Christian Canon
and the Classics of Sociology
Significance of the Canon Debate:
The Controversy Over Higher Education
and the Purpose of the University
The University and the Jargon of "Relevance"
7. A Concluding Look at the Three Concepts 183
Appendix on Translation and Reception:
The "Iron Cage" and the "Shell of Steel."
Parsons, Weber and the stahlhartes Gehause
metaphor in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit