For most of the twentieth century, modernity has been characterised by the formalisation of social relations as face to face interactions are replaced by impersonal bureaucracy and finance. As we enter the new millennium, however, it becomes increasingly clear that it is only by stepping outside these formal structures that trust and co-operation can be created and social change achieved. In a brilliant theoretical tour de force, illustrated with sustained case studies of changing societies in the former eastern Europe and of changing forms of interaction within so-called virtual communities, Barbara Misztal, argues that only the society that achieves an appropriate balance between the informality and formality of interaction will find itself in a position to move forward to further democratisation and an improved quality of life.
The International Library of Sociology (ILS) is the most important series of books on sociology ever published. Founded in the 1940s by Karl Mannheim, the series became the forum for pioneering research and theory, marked by comparative approaches and the identification of new directions in sociology, publishing major figures in Anglo-American and European sociology, from Durkheim and Weber to Parsons and Gouldner, and from Ossowski and Klein to Jasanoff and Walby.
Its new editors, John Holmwood (University of Nottingham, UK) and Vineeta Sinha (National University of Singapore), plan to develop the series as a truly global project, reflecting new directions and contributions outside its traditional centres, and connecting with the original aim of the series to produce sociological knowledge that addresses pressing global social problems and supports democratic debate.