Social Theory as a Vocation: Genres of Theory Work in Sociology, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Social Theory as a Vocation

Genres of Theory Work in Sociology, 1st Edition

By Donald N. Levine


429 pages

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In this unprecedented collection, Donald N. Levine rejuvenates the field of social theory in the face of lagging institutional support. The work canvasses the universe of types of theory work in sociology and offers probing examples from his array of scholarly investigations.

Social Theory as a Vocation throws fresh light on the texts of classic authors (Comte, Durkheim, Simmel, Weber, Park, Parsons, and Merton). Ranging widely, its substantive chapters deal with the sociology of strangers and the somatic dimensions of social conflict; the social functions of ambiguity and the use of metaphors in science; contemporary dilemmas of Ethiopian society; logical tensions in the ideas of freedom and reason; and the meaning of nationhood in our global era. The book includes Levine's transformative analysis of the field of Ethiopian studies, and his acclaimed interpretation of the discontents of modernity. It makes the bold move to merge philosophically informed analyses with empirical work.

Finally, Levine focuses on what he views as the contemporary crisis of liberal education, and offers suggestions for ways to stimulate new efforts in teaching and learning to do social theory. This book is an integral contribution to social science collections and should be read by all interested in the future of the social sciences.

Table of Contents

List of Figures



Prologue: Social Theory as a Vocation

Part I Custodial Theory Work

1 Note on Park, The Crowd and the Public
2 Max Weber's 1908 Note Regarding Simmel
3 Review of the Variorum Edition of Max Weber's Economy and Society
4 Taking the Measure of Auguste Comte
5 emile Durkheim, Univocalist Manque
6 Robert K. Merton On and In Ambivalence
7 Revisiting Georg Simmel
8 Simmel's Stranger and His Followers
9 Simmel and Parsons Reconstructed

Part II Heuristic Theory Work: Internal to the Discipline

10 The Concept of Cultural Integration
11 The Organism Metaphor in Sociology
12 The Concept of Rationality: From Kant to Weber
13 Rationality and Freedom, Weber and Beyond
14 Putting Voluntarism Back into a Voluntaristic Theory of Action
15 "Ambiguity and Modernity": Engaging a Serendipitous Problem
16 Somatic Elements in Social Conflict
17 Reconfiguring Ethiopia's Nationhood in a Global Era

Part III Heuristic Theory Work External to the Discipline

18 Simmel as a Resource for Sociological Metatheory
19 Sociology after MacIntyre
20 Images and Assumptions in a Scholarly Domain: Ethiopian Studies
21 Missed Opportunities as a Diagnostic Issue:Ethiopia, 1960 2005
22 A Problem of Collective Identity
23 Modernity and Its Endless Discontents
24 Crises in Liberal Education


A Syllabus: American Sociological Theory, 1900 1980
B Syllabus: Perspectives on Modern Social Theory
C Syllabus: The Forms and Functions of Social Knowledge
D Syllabus: Organizations of the Social Sciences
E Organizing a Practicum in Social Theory



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General