ENDNOTES SOCIOLOGY: THE BASICS
NOTES FOR EACH CHAPTER BY PAGE-By-PAGE
Chapters 1 to 4
Here you can find REFERENCES and IDEAS to follow up the book.
You can see this section as a little like the footnotes or endnotes of a book – only oftwith links. These provide you sources for materials mentioned in the book and aim to stimulate further interests, reading and research. So if you have found something very interesting as you have been reading the book, this is the place to look to follow up your interests. Not everything is covered of course – there is too much. But you will find a lot.
The section is organized by chapters and pages. Simply turn to the relevant chapter below, and then find the relevant page.
- Imaginations: Acting in a world I never made
- Theory: Thinking the social
- Societies: Living in the Twenty-First Century
- History: Standing on the shoulders of giants
- Questions: Cultivating sociological imaginations
- Research: Critically engaging with the empirical
- Troubles: Suffering inequalities
- Visions: Creating sociological hope
Conclusions: The sociological imaginations- twenty one theses
The book gives the shorter version of this poem, much abbreviated here for reasons of space. Here is the fuller version:
THE HAUNTING OF SOCIAL THINGS
We live the social electric.
The air we breathe is social.
The tiny things and the major things.
The social haunting of life in vast time and space.
The social is natural and the natural is social.
We do things together, drenched with people,
attuned to others: there is always the other.
And the haunting of social things.
We make social life stuffed full of the possible
yet we dwell in our habits, the patterns and structures,
the predictable positions we trap ourselves in.
The prisons that engulf us, a daily haunting.
Pounding patterns of structure and wobbly worlds of meaning.
We are prisoners, puppets, and people. Always fragile.
World making actions, and resistance, rebellion-
in worlds not of our making that haunt till we die.
Ubiquitous differences, divisions,dominations: the inhumanities of people.
A haunting ‘matrix of inequalities’: generations at war,
gendered classed races, sexy nations disabled.
And the troubled pathways of excluding and exploiting, dehumanizing and disempowering.
At the brink of a change- a world seething with gushing movements.
Pasts, presents and futures collide in the moment.
Where did it come from and where is it headed?
Cyber capitalisms in global ferment haunting the world.
Standing amazed at this chaos and complexity
of the humanly produced social world;
and its joys and its sufferings,
we celebrate it and we critique these hauntings.
Yet the dreadful dullness of professional knowledge.
Its earnest desire for respectability and order,
abstractions to kill you. Standards to die for.
A dark cloak thrown over the mind.
We need ‘the tricks of the trade’: practical questions with practical answers.
Rich descriptions and explanations of dense social life.
An intimate familiarity through all the senses.
Explore and respect the empirical world. And look for it hauntings.
We dwell in social tensions, conflicts and contradiction.
Observing schisms, thinking paradox,
and struggling with opposing paths: living with the contradictions.
The hard trick of dealing with them in our lives.
The vast multiplicities of social life: Contested. Contingent. Creative.
And thriving. Progressing. Regressing. Sometimes surviving.
Incorrigibly plural. Intransigently vast.
The complex tales how we order our past.
And the blindness of human beings?
The taken for granted need not be taken for granted.
Doubting the familiar; living with radical doubt.
Yet all we know is incomplete and open,
Necessarily provisional, partial, perspectival.
Reality is inexhaustible, too complex and dense to be fully comprehended
No finality. Or closure.
The dream of a better world haunts sociology.
Empowering lives and imagining utopias.
More justice in each generation?
A flourishing life for all?
A dialogue: being personal, being political?
Passionate knowledge? A garden to cultivate?
A quiet catharsis of comprehension? With the other?
Haunted by doubt, love and hope.
ACTING IN A WORLD I NEVER MADE pages 1- 19
Opening paragraphs: Introducing Sociology
For a much fuller account of the ideas contained here, and indeed the whole chapter, read: Peter Berger and Thoman Luckmann’s The Social Construction of Reality (1976 orig; 1990 reprint). The book is available on line at:
More briefly, see Peter Berger’s Invitation to Sociology (1966: Chs 4-6).
There are many extracts on line. Search Berger, Invitation to Sociology, PDF
These are now old books but books that inspired me to be a sociologist.
Berger updates his story in his Adventures of an Accidental Sociologist (2011)
For wider introductions to sociology on line, see these You Tube opening lectures given by prominent sociologists saying what they think sociology is (and even compare them!)
Anthony Giddens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl6FoLrv4JQ
Anne Swidler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPAcVFErEVg
Harvey Molotch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FduU3EokBY
You can also now find intro courses on line. Take a look at:
This is presented by Mitch Dunier from Princeton University
A note on key introductory books
There are really four classics that have been around for a long time. Peter Berger’s Invitation to Sociology (1966), Norbert Elias What is Sociology (1978), Zygmunt Baumman’s Thinking Sociologically, and of course C Wright Mills. Then there are perhaps four new classics that have been published more recently – Giddens, Jenkins, Bruce and Plummer. In the US market there are many such books. Lemert’ s Social Things is probably the best seller. More recent additions might include: Gregor MCLennan’s Story of Sociology (2011) and William Outwaite’s Social Theory: Ideas in Profile (2015) but they focus more specifically on theory.
A very useful set of readings to introduce you to sociological ideas is
Daniel Nehring: Sociology: A Introductory Text and Reader.
You may also like to look at his blog
In a world I never made. ….The title of this chapter is derived from an A E Housman poem. See his Last Poems, XII http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/housman1.html
The idea of ‘thrownness into the world’ is a philosophical one derived from the philosopher Heidegger in Being and Time, and linked the philosophical tradition of existentialism. It is accessible at:
This is not an easy idea. Sociologists are often informed by philosophers; but they are not philosophers and always have to return to issues of empirical research.
The quote from Durkheim – ‘come to each one of us from outside and .. sweep us along in spite of ourselves’ . See Emile Durkheim: Rules of Sociological Method
( p52-3). The standard biography of Durkheim is Steven Lukes. Emile Durkheim.1973 Allen Lane/Penguin.
You can find a lively ‘Social Science Bits’ account by Steve Lukes at: http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2015/05/steven-lukes-on-durkheim/
‘How we adapt and conform, rebel and innovate, ritualise and withdraw’…
This is a very short summary of a major sociological essay by Robert King Merton from his Social Theory and Social Structure.1968 rev ed. MacMillan
Merton was a major sociologist of the mid twentieth century. There is much about him on the web. You might like to see how he was recalled after his death at:
Page 3 -5
Sociologists as Outsiders on the Margins?
Sociologists have long expressed interest in a wide range of people who do not fit in. These are the Strangers (Simmel, Schutz), migrants, outsiders (Camus, Becker), ‘marginal men’ (Stonequist), ‘invisible man’ (Ellison), the alienated, the romantic (Gouldner) , the gothic and the queer, the Appolian and the Dynosian (Nietszche) and the Master-Slave morality. They are also ‘the wretched of the earth (Fanon), the female eunuch (Greer) and the second sex (DeBeauvoir). There is a history of talking about those who wear ‘the mask’ or the veil’ It is a sociological story well paralleled in history. James Baldwin’s Stranger in the Village, Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf – singles out from other people; Santayana The Idler and his Works (1957). There is also Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible man’…. They all have their own heroes and histories. But they also have much in common. See also: Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth…… and a horde of literary figures Shakespeare’s King Lear, Don Quixote, Virginia Wolf, , Richard Wright, Walt Whitmans, Samuel Beckett, and Schopenhauer Sociologists often join this outsider tradition. If this interests you, search on line for all the names listed above. A key book to introduce you to may of these ideas if Shaun Best The Stranger
There are some sociologists who conduct ‘breaching experiments’ making strange our everyday life experiences. On this, see the case studies by Harold Garfinkel in his classic Studies in Ethnomethodology. 1967/1984 Polity. See the account on the web site, Wired Cosmos at:
Zygmunt Bauman uses the phrase defamiliarise ourselves with the familiar in his Thinking Sociology which is an excellent introduction to sociology.
Page 5-7: Dark Side
For contemporary work on slavery, see the web site
and the work of Kevin Bales
The writings of Kevin Bales include. The Modern World of Secret Slavery (2009) ; Documenting Disposable People (2010) Hayward Gallery; Modern Slavery: A beginner’s Guide (2011)
The bloody short twentieth century is Hobsbawm’s term: he is a major twentieth century historian. see Eric Hobsbawm (1994) The Age of Extremes 1914-1991. London: Michael Joseph.
For extracts, see:
For discussions and details of the figures on global deaths, look at Matthew Whites’s Atrocitology: Humanity’s 100 Deadliest Achievements (2012). London: Canongate and his web site at:
He is neither a sociologist nor even an academic, but he does put together a lot of information, provides sources and is critical of his data. Much of his data can be found in his remarkable catalogue:
I have written about my illness in more detail in several places. See my web site but especially :
Voltaire’s famous satire Candide (1759). ‘everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’ (The Panglossian philosophy), ‘We had better’, he says, ‘cultivate our own gardens. And here we may find some happiness in the world’.
It is downloadable at:
Travelling in the Air: Airports and flying.
See Chris Watson ed Beyond Flying Cambridge Green Books and especially ‘To fly or not to fly’ by Chris Brazier. He cites the elite activity where 1% of humanity is responsible for 80 per cent of the world’s delights (only 5% of the world ever having flown). Page 17
Look at the following web sites for backgrounds on the International Airport World: http://www.aci-na.org/content/aci-world-traffic-statistics
US Federal Aviation Administration
IATA (The International Air Trade Association)
For further reading, see:
Harvey Molotch’s Against Security (2012: Ch 2)
Rachel Hall’s The Transparent Traveller (2015)
Alain de Botton: A Week at the Aiport (2010) Vintage
Mark Gottdiener’s Life in the Air 2001: Rowman & Littlefield
See also the work of John Urry, especially his book Mobilities (2007) Polity Ch 7.
Saoulo Cwerner, Sven Kesserling and John Urry ‘s work Aeromobilities (2008) is a collection of essays that tackle in many different ways the growing importance of aviation and air travel in our hypermobile, globalized world.
Watch the end of the film ‘Love Actually’
The ending of the Richard Curtis film Love Actually (2003) shows the arrival gate. This closing scene –especially the closing credits is worth a view, and is accessible on the YouTube.
It suggests to me a sense of millions of lives connecting to a wider social structure.
A now classic film about Airport life is Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal (2004)
An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there.
The September 11 attacks (often referred to as September 11th or 9/11) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001.19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners, intentionally crashing two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. (The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.; and a fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania. 2,976 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks.
You can actually watch it in detail on the You Tube and it has over the past decade and a half shaped the course of history. There are lots of live films e.g https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g11nNUqMcro
For the best 10 films on 9/11, see
Middlemarch came to my attention for its sociological interest in a book by
Candace Clark Misery and Company: Sympathy in Everyday Life (1997)
George Elliot’s nineteenth-century novel Middlemarch is a marvelous example.
It can be found via the Gutenberg Project at
A sociology of tomatoes
See: Mark Harvey, Steve Quilley and Huw Benyon Exploring the Tomato :
Transformations of Nature, Society and Economy 2002. Elgar.
The book provides a “conceptual framework of ‘instituted economic process’ and demonstrates how different tomato forms are an expression of dynamic processes in capitalist economies and societies during the twentieth century. As both an early pioneer in mass production and a contemporary contributor to the creation of global cuisines, the tomato has been subject to intense innovation. Computerised total ecologies under glass, producing fresh tomatoes of all shapes, colours and sizes, compete with sun and southern climates across the world. To enter the variety of tomato worlds is to discover the variety of capitalism”. (Book blurb).
On the work of Mark Harvey, see
Page 14 On Toilets and Global Sanitation
Core information on global sanitation can be found
Water Aid: See http://www.wateraid.org/uk
See their annual report e.g. It’s No Joke: The State of the World’s Toilets, 2015.
Page 14 bottom
In the text, I mention the film Q2P (2006). It can be found online at:
This shows how gender and class inequalities are revealed through toilets; something we normally take for granted. Set in Mumbai, India, where a woman going to the loo alone is stigmatized, the film looks at who has to queue to pee, and how urban centre design becomes gendered by this social prohibition. Paromita Vohra, a filmmaker and writer, makes this Indian documentary. Her writing for film includes the feature films Khamosh Pani (dir: Sabiha Sumar) which she won the Best Screenplay award at the Kara Film Festival, 2003 and the Indian adaptation of Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman (in Development, Dir: Arjun Sajnani) . She writes a fortnightly column in the Mumbai Mirror and is a regular contributor to various journals in India and internationally.
For reading, see
Maggie Black and Ben Fawcett The Last Taboo: Opening the Door on the Global Sanitation Crisis 2008 Earthscan
A good general read here is:
Rose George The Big Necessity 2008 Portobello Books
On gender and toilets, see:
Olga Gershenson & Barbara Penne reds ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender. 2009 Temple University
For the sociology of toilets, see Dara Blumenthal’s Little Vast Rooms of Undoing ( 2014);
The Harvey Molotch book mentioned in the text was originally a conference at New York University and the Center for Architecture : “Outing the Water Closet: Sex, Gender, and the Public Toilet” on Sat., Nov. 3, at the Center for Architecture
Harvey Molotch’s course was called “The Urban Toilet,” . Consider a few of the texts: he used:
Jo-Anne Bichard, Julienne Hanson and Clara Greed. “Please Wash Your Hands.” In The Senses and Society Vol. 2 Issue 3 p. 385-390.
Week 7: Race, Class & Gender
Penner, Barbara. (2001b) “A World of Unmentionable Suffering: Women’s Public Conveniences in Victorian London.” In Journal of Design History Vol. 14, (35-52).
Mitchell Duneier “When You Gotta Go” from Sidewalk. NY: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1999.
Week 8: Sexual Spaces
Lee Edelman, “Men’s Room” in Joel Sanders (ed). (1996) Stud: Architectures of Masculinity. Princeton Papers on Architecture Series. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Tea Room Trade is by Laud Humphreys (1930-1988). Aldine 1975 (orig: 1969). There was major controversy about this book when it was first published in the late 1960’s and became much discussed in debates about the ethics of research. He showed how toilets could be used by heterosexual men for homosexual pickups with routine users remaining unaware of the homosexual activities that were taking place.
Read parts of it on PDF at:
On Laud Humphreys (1930-1988), see John F.Galliher Laud Humphreys Prophet of Homosexuality and Sociology ( 2004) University of Wisconsin
On up to date statistics on phone usage in UK, see: http://media.ofcom.org.uk/facts/
And in the US, see:
Global Digital Snapshots
The sociology of phones has become a very popular area of study and there is a lot written. For a selection, see:
Jon Agar Constant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone (2013) Icon
Nancy Baym Personal Connections in the Digital Age. (2015 2nd ed) Cambridge: Polity
Chris Berry et al Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia (2003): Duke University Press
Mirjam de Brujin (2009) Mobile Phones: The New Talking Drums of Africa (2009) Langaa: RPCIG
Manuel Castells et al Mobile Communication and Society: A Global Perspective (2004) MIT Press
Ian Hutchby Conversation and Technology: From the Telephone to the Internet (2001) Polity Press
James Katz & Mark Aakhus Perpetual Contact (2002) Cambridge University Press
Rich Ling New Tech: New Ties: how mobile communication is reshaping social cohesion (2008) MIT Press
Mizuko Ito et al Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life ( 2005) MIT Press
Parthajeet Sarma Smart Phones and Dumb People ? (2013) Good Times
Jordan Smith Smart Phones as Locative Media (2015) Polity
Cara Wallis Technomobility in China (2015) NYU Press
Introduction to Covid-19
Looking at Statistics on COVID-19
There were around 5 million deaths in October 2021: what are they now?
For regular statistical updates see:
World Health Organization Covid-19 Dashboard:
The simplest guide can be found in Worldometer Covid-19 Pandemic
John Hopkins Dashboard
Gov. UK Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK
Generally, see The Medical Futurist: on reliable resources
See also: David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters Covid By Numbers: Making Sense of the Pandemic with Data 2021; Pelican Books
CHAPTER TWO: THINKING THE SOCIAL
Page 20 – 23
What is the social?
An early instructive guide on the meaning of the social is: David Frisby and Derek Sayer Society. Routledge. 1986
More recently, see Elliott and Turner On Society 2012..
Anthropology, criminology, economics, humanities, history, philosophy, psychology
See: what is social science?
and the video:
The case for disciplines is made by
Jerry Jacobs: In Defense of Disciplines 2014 University of Chicago Press
John Aldrich ed 2014 Interdisciplinarity. Oxford 2014
The phrase ‘doing things together’ comes from the book by Howard S.Becker (1928- ) with that title (University of Chicago Press).
Becker’s web site can be found at HOWIE’S WEB PAGE
For an interesting interview with him, see:
New York, January 12, 2015
On the work of Simmel, a guide is David Frisby: Georg Simmel (2nd ed 2002 Routledge; the standard collection of his readings are: Kurt Wolff The Sociology of Georg Simmel ( 1964)Free Press; and for a lively discussion of his work see:
Ralph M Leck Georg Simmel and Avant-Garde Sociology (2000). Humanity Books.
A little of his work is accessible on line. His essay : How is society possible can be accessed at: http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/simmel/society
The classic source for discussing social facts is Emile Durkheim The rules of sociological method. See
‘The Robinson Crusoe problem’ is after the famous novel by Daniel Defoe )? You can download the entire unabridged texts
Daniel Defoe based his classic tale of shipwreck and survival on an uninhabited island is based on a true story. The real Robinson Crusoe was a Scotsman named Alexander Selkirk (or Selcraig).
Many studies of feral children left living in isolation and then discovered later show that they simply cannot then function as social beings. (Some classic cases here are Victor, the Wild Boy of Averyon and Kasper Hauser).
For more on symbolic interactionism (SI) in general, see the society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
and my essay at:
Note on Symbolic Intercationism:
SI is based on pragmatism – a movement in American philosophy which began in the 1870s with the Metaphysical Club. Read about the history of pragmatism and get introductions to pragmatism and pragmatists.
On pragmatism, see:
The symbolic interactionist approach is associated initially with the ideas of George Mead and stresses the formation of the self through processes of interaction.
The history and foundations of symbolic interactionism, involve looking at works of James, Cooley Mead and his influence on Herbert Blumer and others in their studies of the self.
James, William Psychology.
Mead, George Herbert  Mind, Self, and Society.
Mead, George Herbert Essays in Social Psychology.
Blumer, Herbert  Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method.
Cooley, Charles Horton  On Self and Social Organization.
Cooley, Charles Horton [1983 print] Human Nature and Social Order
Strauss, Anselm  Mirrors and Masks.
Filipe Carreira da Silva  G. H. Mead
General readings on Symbolic Interactionism
Lindesmith, Alfred R., Strauss, Anselm L. and Denzin, Norman K. (1999) Social Psychology. 8th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Charan, Joel (2007) Symbolic Interactionism. 9th edition. Pearson. HM251.4.C5
Reynolds, Larry & Nancy J.Herman –Kinney  Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism Alta Mira
Denzin, Norman  Symbolic Interactionism and Cultural Studies: The Politics of Interpretation Blackwell.
Atkinson, Paul & William Housley (2003) Interactionism. Sage
My own work has been shaped by this tradition and you might be interested in some of my work here:
Plummer Ken (2009) ‘ A Quiet Catharsis of Comprehension’. Symbolic Interaction Vol 32. No 3 p174-7
Plummer, Ken (2010) ‘Generational Sexualities, Subterranean Traditions and hanutings of the sexuial World’ Symbolic Interaction. Vol 33. No 2. P163-190
Plummer, Ken (2007) ‘Herbert Blumer’ in Rob Stones (ed.) Key Sociological Thinkers, 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Macmillan. HM 19.K4.
Plummer, Ken [1996, 2000] ‘Symbolic Interactionism in the Twentieth Century’, in Bryan S. Turner (ed.) The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory 1st and 2nd ed., H61.B6.
Plummer, Ken (ed.) (1991) Symbolic Interactionism, 2 Volumes. Aldershot: E. Elgar. HM 251.4.S9 (contains many classic pieces).
Plummer, Ken (2001) Documents of Life-2: An Invitation to a Critical Humanism. London: Sage. HM 24.P6, Online book.
Plummer, Ken (1995) Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change, and Social Worlds. London: Routledge. HQ 23, Online book.
Plummer. Ken (1995) ‘Telling sexual stories in a late modern world’. Studies in Symbolic Interaction Vol. 18, pp, 101-120. HM 1.S98
Here is John Donne’s famous poem ‘No man is an island’.
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
See: “Meditation XVII,” by the English poet John Donne
See Routledge Handbook of the Body:
See: Norbert Elias (1897–1990) The Civilizing Process 2000: Polity . For an account of his work, see Stephen Mennell Norbert Elias (2008 new ed) Dublin Press. See the web site of the Elias Foundation at:
The sociological followers of Elias – of which there are many- have suggested that more recently there has been further changes on the body. It has now become informalized.
See also the work of Cas Wouters Informalization. 2007. Sage
Metaphors: The Tropes of Theory
One way for the beginner to start thinking about theory and analysing the patterns of societies is through its imagery, tropes and metaphors. This is far from a common way of entering theory but I think it will help as a starting point. A trope is a figure of speech, which uses a word or phrase in a way other than what is considered its literal or normal forms – turning it into something else. Key examples are metaphors (juxtaposing disparate things with a similar characteristic: e.g seeing rape as the war between the sexes), irony (implying the opposite of the standard meaning, such as describing a bad situation as “good times.”), allegory ( a sustained ‘story’ metaphor as in Plato’s ‘the cave’ in The Republic, or C.S.Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia), metonymy (where any item is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with it) and synecdoche (where a part of something is used to refer to the whole: eg The White House is commonly used to represent the federal government of the United States ) . Generally, behind every major social theory, there is a trope, an image, a frame, a metaphor which suggests a way of seeing the social world. Of course, every way of seeing is a way of not seeing… metaphors suggest patterns of social life, but they are not mutually exclusive. And often they can be mixed up. Different metaphors may well help us see the world in different ways and combinations of them may help broaden our own sociological imaginations and visions.
All of social life depends upon language, and part of the sociological soul requires a self awareness of the language used to describe society. Much this language is metaphorical.
Society’s intelligible order, then, is often seen through the eyes of something else. I have already likened society to a prison and we have also already seen it as a drama. But we can also analyse society as an evolving human body (the organic trope), as a stage play (dramaturgy), as a machine, as a discourse (with its own semiotic code), as a war (conflict theory), as a system of law and rules, as a market place, as a game, as play. Thinking in sociology is to raise a wide range of possible languages. Society is seen as intelligible order through a language of something else. I will consider a couple of these examples below.
In raising these metaphors, I suggest the reader might be willing to play a mind game and indulge me a bit. I would like the reader to maybe spend a few hours looking around the world through the different languages I suggest…. The question to pose is whether such a new language opens your eyes to new ways of thinking about and understanding the nature of social life….. if it doesn’t I will be surprised. These are, after all, ways of thinking that have inspired generations of social thinkers earlier.
On metaphors, see:
Daniel Rigney: The Metaphorical Society: An Invitation to Social Theory (2001)
and Donald N.Levine’s Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995)
‘Every way of seeing is also always a way of not seeing’. This nice phrase comes from Kenneth Burke, a literary critic;
‘The limits of our language are often the limits of our visions’.. is a simplification of Wittgenstein’s: The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Wittgenstein published only one book in his lifetime, the Logico-Tractatus Philosophicus. It is a short book written in an unusual style. There are no paragraphs. Many sections, which are numbered, consist of a single sentence. The exception to this style is the preface which reads;
|“Perhaps this book will be understood only by someone who has himself already had the thoughts that are expressed in it–or at least similar thoughts.–So it is not a textbook.–Its purpose would be achieved if it gave pleasure to one person who read and understood it. The book deals with the problems of philosophy, and shows, I believe, that the reason why these problems are posed is that the logic of our language is misunderstood. The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence. Thus the aim of the book is to draw a limit to thought, or rather–not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts: for in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should have to be able to think what cannot be thought). It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense. I do not wish to judge how far my efforts coincide with those of other philosophers. Indeed, what I have written here makes no claim to novelty in detail, and the reason why I give no sources is that it is a matter of indifference to me whether the thoughts that I have had have been anticipated by someone else.”|
A key statement in this preface is that he is seeking to draw a limit to thought. That does not mean to create restrictions for thinking. Instead Wittgenstein is setting out to show that that by mapping the possibilities and impossibilities of thought, we can describe the limits of reality. After all, if we cannot think it then it cannot be — in our world at least. That is, for something to exist in the world (in actuality or imagination), it must be potentially thinkable by us, otherwise it could never register on our minds at all.
Page 35 –
A Note on Sociological theory
General links to classic sociological theory :
For the American Sociological Association
Cardiff University has quite a good home page for students:
The Durkheim Pages:
The Marx Engels Archive:
Max Weber: http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/users/f/felwell/www/Theorists/Weber/Whome.htm
See also The Yale Open Theory Course at:
Using Wikipedia you can get a little very basic introductions. This is far too sketchy but you can overview these fairly speedily and then see where you want to go next.
Rational choice theory
From this, move on to major textbooks:
There are many useful volumes to guide the new student through sociological theory. Two useful starting points are:
Michele Dillon: Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts and their Applicability to the Twenty First Century 3rd edition 2020 Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell.
Kenneth Allan. Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory: Visualizing Social Worlds. 2006. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.
Useful too are:
Rob Stones Key Thinkers of Sociological Theory. 2017 3rd ed . Palgrave
John Scott. Sociological Theory. 2008. Sage
Steven Seidman. Contested Knowledge. 2016 6th edition. Blackwell
The work of Robert Putnam is at http://robertdputnam.com/
Bowling Alone is discussed at: http://bowlingalone.com/
His latest book is
The Upswing: How we came together a century ago and how we can do it again, 2020 Swift Press
There is a long tradition in sociology which looks at social bonding. The search for community for instance has been a major theme of much sociological writing – from abstract searches for the meaning of the idea of community ( variously ideal, rural, urban, ‘imagined’, and now ‘virtual’) to the empirical description of actual communities (known as the community studies research tradition) from small town America (Middletown being the classic) to suggestions of the full range of communities from small and intense to large ( see Frankenberg’s classic review in his Communities in Britain). Central to much too is the idea of identity, of how people locate themselves in and identify with different communities and bonds.
Of great current interest to sociologists is the rise of the new ways in which social bonds, social ties and identities develop not just in traditional forms such as families and communities of place, but also the attachments made through social movements and the interent – new social networks take on mechanisms for new social bonds and identities……
On Community and Social Bonds, see:
Zygymunt Baumann Community 2000 Polity
Gerard Delanty Community 2003 Routledge
Robert Bellah et The Habits of the Heart 1992 University of California Press is a prime contemporary example.
More recently it is found in writing about social capital and is well discussed by John Field 2nd ed 2008 Routledge
Functionalism dominated for a hundred years but fashion in sociology means it is rarely written about today and few sociologists now claim to be functionalists. Nevertheless, it remains a key way of grasping the world implicitly. See
A key foundational text remains
Talcott Parsons The Social System orig 1951, revised 1991 Routledge
On Talcott Parsons as a Key Sociologist of the Twentieth Century, see:
Niklas Luhmann is a major contemporary functionalist thinker, usually seen as a neo-functionalist and systems theorist. His work is reviewed in Christian Borsch’s Niklas Luhmann 2010 Rouledge. His books can be found listed at:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/193513.Niklas_Luhmann
On Herbert Spencer see:
On Machiavelli, see The Prince downloadable at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1232?msg=welcome_stranger
Some general works to look at include:
Ralph Dahrendorf Class and class conflict in industrial society 1959
Download at: http://www.archive.org/stream/classclassconfli00dahr/classclassconfli00dahr_djvu.txt
C.Wright Mills The Power Elite 1956 Galaxy BooksFor a guide: see https://www.marxists.org/subject/humanism/mills-c-wright/power-elite.htm
The conflict theorists mentioned in the book would include Karl Marx, William Du Bois, C.Wright Mills, Georg Simmel, Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School. It also includes feminism, race theory and queer theory.
Erving Goffman (1922-1982) has been called the most influential ‘micro-sociologist’ of the twentieth century. His key work is The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956), and subsequently published as a Penguin book which is still widely available today. He went on to examine the underlife of people living in hospitals, concentration camps, prisons and what he calls ‘total institutions’ in Asylums (1961) Penguin.
There is a podcast discussion of his work on Laurie Taylor: Thinking Allowed 9th Sept 2013
And an interview with Peter Lunt about his work at:
Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Søren Kristiansen The Social Thought of Erving Goffman (2015) Sage
Greg Smith Erving Goffman (2006)
Thomas J Scheff Goffman Unbound (2006)
A. Javier Trevano Goffman’s Legacy (2003) esp intro
A more advanced treatment and development of Goffman’s ideas can be found in : Randall Collins Interaction Ritual Chains (2004) where he develops the idea of interaction ritual chain.
There is also Performance theory: A good general guide to this is
Richard Schechner Performance Studies: An Introduction. 2006 2nd ed Routledge
The key texts of Foucault are mentioned in the table.
See the web site:
For general introductions, see:
Chris Horrocks and Zoran Jevic Introducing Foucault: A Graphic Guide 2009 Icon
Lisa Downing The Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault 2008 Cambridge University Press
Geoff Danaher, Tony Schirato & Jan Webb Understanding Foucault 2000 Sage
Gary Guting Foucault: A very short introduction 2005 Oxford
See Raymond Williams: Culture is Ordinary at
On the idea of culture as a ‘tool box’ see
See: Ann Swidler Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies
American Sociological Review, Vol. 51, No. 2. (Apr., 1986), pp. 273-286.
and can be downloaded at:
More complex ideas of culture can be found in a consideration of multiculturalism:
See Seyla Banhabib The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Culture 2002 Princeton especially the introduction
The full version of Chaplin’s Modern Times and Lang’s Metropolis are both downloadable on the You Tube.
Modern Times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfGs2Y5WJ14
For many years I used to show the opening sequences of Metropolis in my sociology courses and they are always dramatic.
The 10th edition of The McDonaldization of Society: Into the Digital Age was published in 2021!. There is a useful book of readings around it: see The McDonaldization Reader. 3rd ed. Pine Press. 2009
See the George Ritzer Website at:
The classic text to look at here is:
Marcel Mauss: The Gift – see
A prime proponent of rational theory in British sociology is John Goldthorpe. See his On Sociology, 2000. He is critical of all the tendencies in sociology to become ‘humanistic’, ‘reflexive’, ‘critical’.
I might note that these are all positions that I take in this book!
For a recent paper, see: https://www.spi.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/documents/PDF/Goldthorpe_Social_Mob_paper_01.pdf
Page 46 Unconscious etc
Background overview of Freud: see
Some of the works of Freud can be found at:
Henry Abramson Freud’s ‘Jewish’ Biography: see You Tubehttp://jewishhistorylectures.org/2015/03/12/who-was-sigmund-freud-jewish-biography-as-history/
What is the Mobility Turn?
See John Urry’s discussion of this on the You Tube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G22hDmpfELk
See Baumann on Liquid Modernity athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QVSisK440w
On Deleuze, and the significance of ‘assemblage’ see the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy :
A short guide is Rob Shields and Mickey Valee ed Demystifying Deleuze 2012 Quill Books
See also Bruno Latour : Reassembling the Social (2005)
A useful resource on this is The Actor Network Resource though it has got a little out of date recently:
SOCIETIES: LIVING IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
p 49 -97
think about this quote:
In the history of mankind, the amount of time civilization has existed is minute … it is very much an immature and ongoing experiment, the success of which is by no means proven. Colin Turnbull, The Human Cycle, 1984
See Colin Turnbull: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Turnbull
The Hubble Space Telescope data estimates between 125 in 1991 and 170 billion in 2015
Page 50 -1 Tales of time
Introduction: The past and future of humanity
Think on: Putting humanity in its place
“If we compress the time scale such that the Earth formed one year ago, then Homo sapiens evolved less than 12 minutes ago, agriculture began a little over one minute ago, the Industrial Revolution took place less than 2 seconds ago, the electronic computer was invented 0.4 seconds ago, and the Internet less than 0.1 seconds ago – in the blink of an eye.” Nick Bostrom The Future of Humanity
(published in New Waves in Philosophy of Technology, eds. Jan-Kyrre Berg Olsen, Evan Selinger, & Soren Riis (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2009): 186-216][Reprinted in the journal Geopolitics, History, and International Relations, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2009): 41-78]
Nick Bostrom http://nickbostrom.com/
Future of Humanity
“What we do know,” writes distinguished historian of technology Vaclav Smil, “is that the past six generations have amounted to the most rapid and the most profound change our species has experienced in its 5,000 years of recorded history.”
See: Smil, V. (2006) Transforming the twentieth century: technical innovations and their consequences (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
This mapping of past and future humanities is of increasing interest to many. See:
Heilbroner, R. L. (1995) Visions of the future: the distant past, yesterday, today, tomorrow (New York: Oxford University Press).
Leslie, J. (1996) The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction (London: Routledge).
Leslie, J. (1996) The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction (London: Routledge).
Kurzweil, R. (2005) The singularity is near: when humans transcend biology (New York: Viking).
On Histories of Civilizations
In the early 1980’s, the astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) presented his award-winning television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage ( seen by more than 600 million people in over 60 countries) suggested superimposing the 15-billion-year history of our universe on the calendar of a single year. Look at:
Major civilizations of the past are documented briefly at:
It includes those of China, The Incas, The Atztecs, Ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, Classical, the Mesoamerican, and Christian Western (emerging about AD 700) in Europe, North America and Islamic (originating in the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century A.D.) and including Arab, Turkic, Persian and Malay cultures). They are often classified as:
- Chinese (or Sinic)
- Japanese (sometimes combined with China as Far Eastern Civilization)
- Indian or Hindu
- Orthodox. centred in Russia and separate from Western Civilization
- a (though the latter is increasingly seen on its own as
- Latin American (Catholic and more authoritarian)
I use the term BCE (Before the Common Era) which is not always clear. See
Common Era, abbreviated as CE, is a designation for the world’s most commonly used year-numbering system. The numbering of years using Common Era notation is identical to the numbering used with Anno Domini (BC/AD) notation, 2010 being the current year in both notations and neither using a year zero. Common Era is also known as Christian Era and Current Era, with all three expressions abbreviated as CE. (Christian Era is, however, also abbreviated AD, for Anno Domini.) Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for “Before the Common Era”, “Before the Christian Era”, or “Before the Current Era”. Both the BCE/CE and BC/AD notations are based on a sixth-century estimate for the year in which Jesus was conceived or born, with the common era designation originating among Christians in Europe at least as early as 1615 (at first in Latin).
The Gregorian calendar, and the year-numbering system associated with it, is the calendar system with most widespread usage in the world today. For decades, it has been the de facto global standard, recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union. There are many names in many languages used to designate this year-numbering system that originated in Western Europe. Common Era notation has been adopted in several non-Christian cultures, by many scholars in religious studies and other academic fields, and by others wishing to be sensitive to non-Christians, because Common Era does not explicitly make use of religious titles for Jesus, such as Christ and Lord, which are used in the BC/AD notation
Charles Darwin’s (1809–1882) ideas of evolution
See a short Open University introduction at:
For a fascinating but controversial account of the rise of food chains in society and the emergence of different kinds of societies see Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. 1997: which is also available on the You Tube as a controversial documentary film.
For a sample discussion, see
There is a lot of his work to be found on the You Tube.
By 3,000 BC the world’s first major civilizations started to appear; and by 500 BC world population had probably lept to 100 million: on this see Roy Porter The Enlightenment (2001) 2nd ed page 22. Here are two earlier, short and now quite classic histories of the modern world. Well worth a look:
H.G. Wells A History of the world (1922) Penguin Reprint 2006
E.H. Gombrich A Little history of the world (1936; English edition 2005). Yale UP.
A good general introduction is Goran Therborn’s The World: A Beginner’s Guide (2010). A brief history of the modern Western world is Mary Evans’s A Short History of Society (2007). Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski’s textbook Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology (2014, 12th ed) discusses different types of society; Robin Cohen and Paul Kennedy’s Global Sociology (2013, 3rd ed) is an excellent introduction covering a wide range of fields.
In 1999, Anthony Giddens – one of the world’s leading sociologists (certainly the UK’s most prominent at the time, and then Director of the world renowned London School of Economics) – gave a series of lectures on The Runaway World, for the annual prestigious BBC Reith Lectures. He gave these lectures across the world – in Hong Kong (on risk), in Delhi (on tradition), in Washington (on the family), and in London (on Democracy and globalisation). (You can find them all on the BBC’s web site at:
See also his short book Runaway World: How Globalization is changing our lives (2002)).
Page 57 –
Multiple Modernities: This is a term developed by S.N .Eisesnstadt and his full paper can be found on line. See:
Daedalus; Winter 2000; 129, 1; Research
- Here are some of the ideas of this new emerging society:
The Post-Industrial Society. The first major suggestion and used widely between 1960 and 1990. Used by Daniel Bell, it refers to a productive system based on service work and high technology.
- The Post-History Society. Controversially put forward by Francis Fukuyama. In the wake of the collapse of communism, he argued that society had now reached its historical end point in the worldwide triumph of liberal capitalism. It was much criticised, and Fukuyama has now largely changed his position and argument.
- The Post-Modern Society. Seen as a direct challenge to Enlightenment thinking and modernity. It takes many forms – especially in culture, where ideas of fragmentation, difference and pluralism are stressed. In a weaker form, it embraces nearly all the ideas and below and recognises that the traditional, modern and post-modern worlds all live alongside each other.
- Late Modernity . Associated with Anthony Giddens, David Harvey and Jurgen Habermas. Generally do not agree with the ideas of the post-modernists as they do not see a break with the past modern world. Instead, they see late modern society as an intensification and speeding up of themes well developed in the modern world.
- Reflexive Modernity: Closely linked to ideas of late modernity, but here the stress is upon a society in which people become more aware (reflexive) about what is going on around them. For example, science no longer simply leads the way: people want to know more about what it means. They want to know about the environment, and about the risk generated by new technologies and the like.
- Liquid Society: a new form of society that is much more fluid than pervious modern and traditional ones. Everything changes, everything flows, mobilities is key. Zygmun Bauman highlights the uncertainty (unsichereit) of this world; John Urry is concerned with its global flow and complexity.
- Late Capitalism: a continuation of the themes first analysed by Marx and which can still be seen at work in so-called modern societies. But Marx’s concerns have now become amplified and are speeding up on a world wide stage.
- The Information Age/ The Network Society (Castells): a new form of society dependent upon new information technologies and networking (see Chapter 6, xx)
- The Risk Society: This is Ulrich Beck’s term for a new form of risk where uncertainty permeates society because of changes in technology, globalisation and the environment. These risks are not like the old natural risks (which still continue) (see Chapter 2xx)
- The Surveillance Society: (Foucault, Cohen): a new form of society dependent on communication and information technologies for administration and control processes and which result in the close monitoring of everyday life (see Chapter 16)
The list is really getting quite long. Other terms you may come across include:
- Post-National (Habermas)
- Post-Honour (Ahmed)
- World Risk (Beck)
- The Global Age (Albrow)
- The Cyber-Society (Haraway)
- The Human Rights Society
- The Citizenhip Society
- The Cosmopolitan Society (Appiah, Beck)
- The Mobile Society (Urry)
- Individualised Society (Beck)
All these theories suggest a new world that is emerging full of rapid change, uncertainty, risk, openness and individualism They have different emphases .Some are dark, pessimistic dystopias and others provide more optimistic, positive utopian images.
Globalisation and glocalisation and the Planetary Plurverse: ‘The world is one place’
When I wrote the first edition of this book, in 2008-9, I noted the explosion of books on globalization in the following:
Box from First Edition: Reading about globalisaton
‘In the 1980s and the 1990s, thousands of books were published about it: I count forty alone on my own book shelf including – to immediate hand – Pico Iyer’s The Global Soul (2000), Richard Falk’s Predatory Globalization (1999), Zygmunt Bauman’s Globalization: The Human Consequence (1998), David Held’s Global Transformations (1999), Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s Globalization and Culture (2004), Ulrich Beck’s What is Globalization?(2000), Martin Albrow’s The Global Age (1996), Jon Binnie’s The Globalization of Sexuality (2004), Mark Findlay’s The Globalisation of Crime (1999), Christa Wichtereich’s The Globalized Woman (1998) and George Ritzer’s The Globalization of Nothing (2004). This is just a rag bag, certainly not the most influential or important, but enough to indicate it has been a key theme of recent sociology’.
I can now report a sharp decline in such books.
This is typical of ‘trends in sociology’: it helps to establish debates– and then moves on. But this does not mean the idea has gone. Far from it : Globalization as an idea has now settled into mainstream debates. It took about a generation to do so. Three key texts will help guide you through the voluminous writings on globalization and glocalization: Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s Globalization and Culture (2015, 3rd ed), George Ritzer Globalization: A Basic Text (2915 2nd ed) and Luke Martell, The Sociology of Globalization (2010). More specifically, see the works of Ulrich Beck (1986, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2013).
In a celebrated, classic and much quoted account, the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai (1996) has helpfully captured globalisation as a series of flows across the world. The world is moving and he sees it as a series of shifting ‘landscapes’ or horizons and perspectives. There are five major ‘scapes’ which he locates as:
- Finanscapes, through which flows of money and capital cross the world
- Ethnoscapes, where people constitute the shifting worlds we live in, such as tourists, immigrants, refugees, exiles, guest workers etc., who ‘flow’ across the globe
- Mediascapes, where media messages, information, images, film, satellite communications and digital records flow through spaces across the world
- Technoscapes, where technologies of all kinds – from atomic bombs and the Human Genome Project to discmen and computer games – glide through global spaces
- Ideoscapes, where ideas, messages and ideologies move through different countries.
You can find his web site at:
Some Films on the Environment
There are several listings of environmental films: see
Top Ten Environmental films of all time
15 Green Movies
For Documentary Films on the environment, see:
For fiction films on the environment, see:
A classic documentary is
Al Gore An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Erin Brockovitch, Steven Soderbergh, 2000
The writing on all this is vast: but see
Rob Nixon Slow Violence and the Environment ( 2013) Harvard University Press
There are a lot web sites to search:
United Nations Environment Project (UNEP)
United Nations and Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
World Watch Institute
World Earth Resources: Earth Trends
World Environmental Websites
People and Planet
Encyclopedia of Earth
an electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society
A key book to read is:
John Urry (2011) Climate Change and Society:
Page 59: Inequalities
There is much more to be found on all this in Chapter 7. The following books are of interest:
Thomas Piketty Capital in the Twenty First Century (2014)
Credit Suisse (2015) Global Wealth DataBook, Zurich: Credit Suisse Research Institute
Oxfam Wealth: Having it all and wanting more (2015)
Other modern classics much discussed are:
Anthony Atkinson Inequality (2015)
Angus Deaton, The Great Escape (2013)
Danny Dorling, Inequality (2015)
Kate Pickett & Richard Wilkinson The Spirit Level (2009/2015)
Paul Collier (2007) The Bottom Billion
Joseph Stilgitz The Price of Inequality (2012)
Our human population has septupled (increased sevenfold) in a mere two centuries — from approximately 1 billion in 1800 to nearly 8 billion today.(2021)
For recent population data: see United Nation Population at
United Nations World Population Prospects
Source: UN The World Population Prospects: The 2019 Revision
Watch the You Tube Lecture by Sarah Harper on Ageing and World Population at
World Population and Ageing, see:
See also: United Nations Populations Statistics
Population Reference Bureau
For two recent popular account of population problems.
Danny Dorling Population 10 Billion (2013);
Fred Pearce Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash 2010 Eden Project Books
For a selection of films on the population crisis, see
See Critical Mass: 2012
Page 65 Cities
The most recent United Nations Report on the State of the World’s Cities 2015 can be found on:
World Urbanization Prospects
Major agglomerations of the world
A major film to see about slums is
The Fourth World: A Billion People at the Bottom of the Pile
http://fourthworldfilm.com/film-trailer/f building understanding.
Popular films about the city: see
By contrast, see the discussion on the Urban Age Electric City by John Urry where he lays out some of the possible scenarios for the future: at
A list of films (72 of them) about immigrants and migration can be found at:
Look too at films about Europe’s Immigration Crisis at:
The UN Refugee Agency
UNHCR (2015) World at War/ Global Trends, Forced Displacement 2014
Katy Long (2015) The Huddled Masses: Immigration and Inequality.
See Katy Long: https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/katy-long
Page 67 – 72:
On the Economic Crisis of Capitalism
Films on the 2008 Financial Crash include:
Inside Job (2010) dir Charles Ferguson
Capitalism : A Love Story (2009) dir Michael Moore
Too Big To Fail (2011) dir Curtis Hanson
The Flaw (2010) dir David Sinton
As well as
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) dir Alex Ribney
A lively introduction to the issues here are :
See Guy Standing: his book A Precariat Charter and he discusses all this on:
“A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens”, a Seminar with Guy Standing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGLSGeqF1Po
On the idea of Offhsoring, see:
For highly readable critical introductions to a range of issues here, see
Capitalism: Is it spinning out of control?
July /August 2915 No 484
Day of the Zombies: Global Banking Now
May 2015 No 482
Economic Myths that we need to junk.
December 2015 No 488
On the Sociology of the economy: see
- Karin Knorr Cetina and Alex Preda, The Sociology of Financial Markets. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
- Andrew Gamble, The Spectre at the Feast. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009.
- Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008.
- Nicholas Gane, Max Weber and Contemporary Capitalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012.
- Friedrich Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948.
- Donald MacKenzie, Material Markets. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
- Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste. London: Verso, 2013.
- Jamie Peck, Constructions of Neoliberal Reason. Oxford: Oxford, University Press, 2010.
- Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation. New York: Beacon, 2002.
- Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg, The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.
- Wolfgang Streeck, Politics in the Age of Austerity. Cambridge: Polity, 2013.
- Max Weber and the Idea of Economic Sociology. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
- Richard Swedberg, Principles of Economic Sociology. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.
- Max Weber, Economy and Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
Laying out some of the groundwork for a Sociological / Humanist Economics
Boulding, Kenneth. 1966. “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth” in H. Jarrett (ed.), Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy, pp. 3-14. Resources for the Future/Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
Hardin, Garrett. 1968. “Tragedy of the Commons.” Science, volume 162, pages 1243-1248.
Mill, John Stuart. 1848. “Of the Stationary State,” Book IV, Chapter VI in Principles of Political Economy: With Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy, J.W. Parker, London, England.
Schumacher, E.F. 1966. “Buddhist Economics” in Guy Wint (ed.), Asia: A Handbook, Anthony Blond Ltd., London, U.K.
Vitousek, Peter, Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, and Pam Matson. 1986. Human Appropriation of the Products of Photosynthesis. Bioscience 36:368-373.
The New (Humanist) Economics
Ha-Joon Chang 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Economics (2010) Allen Lane
Ha-Joon Change Economics: The User’s Guide (2014) Pelican
Rod Hill and Tony Myatt The Economics Anti-Text Book 2010 Zed
Steve Keen Debunking Economics 2nd edition 2011 2nd ed Zed
John F Weeks Economics of the 1%: How Mainstream Economics Serves the Rich, Osbcures Reality and Distorts Policy. 2014. London: Anthem Books
John Quiggley Zombie Economics 2012 Princeton
Batker, D. & de Graaf, J. (2011). What’s the Economy For, Anyway? New York: Bloomsbury Press.
Boyle, D., & Simms, A. (2009). The new economics: A bigger picture. London: Earthscan.
Economics of the Undead (2014)
Marianna Mazzucoto The Entreprenurial State (2013)
Moving towards a better (heterodox) economics
David Boyle The Human Element (2011) Routledge ( organizational)
— with Andrew Simms The New Economics : A Bigger Picture (2009) Earthscan
Tim Jackson Prosperity without growth:Economics for a Finite Planet (2009) earthscan (ecological macroeconomics)
Amyrya Sen The Idea of Justice (2011)
Polemics by respected economists
Paul Krugman End this Depression Now (2013)
Joseph Stiglitz The Stiglitz Report (2011)
The Price of Inequality (2013)
With Amaytya Sen Mismeasuring Our Lives (2011) The New Press
Geoff Tilly Keynes Betrayed 2010 Palgrave
Michael Meacher The State We Need 2013 Biteback
Will Hutton How Good We Can Be (2015)
John de Graaf & David Batker What’s the economy for, anyway (2012) Bloomsbury
Philip Mirowski Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to waste: How Neoliberalism survived the Financial Meltdown (2013) Verso
And the politics:
Wolfgang Streeck, Politics in the Age of Austerity. Cambridge: Polity, 2013.
A number of UK economists give their views at:
“The Importance of Elections for UK Economic Activity” March 28th 2015
Digital and Media
For a straightforward social history of the media, see
Asa Briggs and Peter Burke Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet 3rd edition 2010 Polity Press
For a more theoretical and influential work, see the ideas of Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) The Media is the Massage (1967)
And look at this official web site:
On contemporary media ownership, see
Eli M Noam Who owns the world’s media? (2016)
For critical works on modern media, see
Christian Fuchs http://fuchs.uti.at/
For recent developments and issues, see:
Abercrombie, Nicholas, and Brian Longhurst. 1998. Audiences : A sociological theory of performance and imagination. London: Sage.
Couldry, Nick. 2003. Media rituals: A critical approach. Oxon: Routledge.
Couldry, Nick. 2012. Media, society, world: Social theory and digital media practice. Malden Polity Press.
Hepp, Andreas. 2012. Cultures of mediatization. Malden: Polity Press.
Kellner, Douglas. 2003. Media spectacle. London: Routledge.
Turner, Graeme. 2010. Ordinary people and the media: The demotic turn. London: Sage.
van Dijck, José. 2013a. The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford: Oxford
What is digital freedom?
What is the Digital Freedom Foundation?
Democracy in the Digital Era: Freedom, transparency and privacy
Citizen Four (2014)
An award documentary about Edward Snowden:
Edward Snowden: terminal F Documentary
On You Tube
Rationalism and Science
Toby Huff examines the long-standing question of why modern science arose only in the West and not in the civilizations of Islam and China, despite the fact that medieval Islam and China were more scientifically advanced. Huff explores the cultural contexts within which science was practiced in Islam, China, and the West. He finds major clues in the history of law and the European cultural revolution of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, as to why the ethos of science arose in the West and permitted the breakthrough to modern science that did not occur elsewhere.
Toby Huff The Rise of Modern Science. (1995) Cambridge University Press . page 55
For an account of contemporary bureaucracy and its manifestations in auditing and quality assurance: Max Travers The New Bureaucracy: Quality Assurance and its critics 2007 Policy
For a defense of bureaucracy in the modern world, see:
Paul du Gay In Praise of Bureaucracy 2000 Sage
Transhuman and LIVING IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY: The Politics of Life Itself
In his book, The Politics of Life itself, the sociologist Nikolas Rose concludes claims that “ new spaces are emerging for the politics of life in the twenty-first century” (2007:8). He argues that somewhere in the twentieth century – as the new ‘biotechnology revolution’ was taking place, a new politics has quietly entered our lives. It is one that is being shaped by biologists of all stripes. As he says: “in all manner of small ways, most of which will soon be routinized and taken for granted, things will not be quite the same again”. What are these new politics?
Rose draws from the earlier work of Michael Foucault (see Chapter 17) who was interested in the new ways in which the body was surveyed and disciplined. We saw this in the case of the developing prison with its rules. Rose contends that the new biology has more recently taken over. He suggests five emerging pathways are shaping our lives. These are:
1The significance now given to the biological molecule as a bed rock of social life (eg in the Human Genome Project) .
2The hope and belief we now have that biology will help us get the best possible future we can
3The development of a new idea what it means to be human – which puts our bodily existence at the centre of thinking. Here we start to find the significance of what might be called ‘biological citizenship’.
4The importance of a wide array of new experts of the body – ranging from stem cell researchers and genetic counsellors to the pharamaceutical industry and the arrival of ‘bioethicsts’.
5The development of new markets that can cash in on all this. A new form of economy – the pharmaceutical industry, the market in body parts.
(Like many sociologists, Rose gives these processes a complex terminology. In his language, these developing social processes display molecularization, optimization, subjectification, somatic expertiose and econcomies of vitality).
We now live in the middle of the making of multiple new histories with no clear sense of where we might be heading. We have already witnessed it in the way many of us now take for granted the tools of EEG’s, PET and CAT scans, and MRI exams in hospitals. But here now are major new worlds of genetic screening, genetic therapy, body part donation and transplantation, drug control and a massive pscyhopharmaceutical industry. All kinds of changes in the regulation of our bodies are taking place.
For Nikolas Rose, the future lies in grasping what he calls ‘biocapital’ and the new ‘ mutations in biopower’, grasping the new emphasis on treating disease susceptibilities rather than disease;
It will lead to a shift in our understanding of the patient and the emergence of new forms of medical activism. A new conceptions of “biological citizenship” is taking shape that recode the duties, rights, and expectations of what it means to be a human beings and which is reshape the ways in which human beings relate to each other and their bodies. Contemporary politics will increasingly call `life itself’ into question.
Take a look at Nikolas Rose talking about all this and more on the You Tube at:
Engineering Selfhood in the 21st Century
See the web site
For an introduction to the problems of surveillance, see the work of David Lyon:
Surveillance Society 2001 Open University
Theorizing Surveillance 2006 Willan
Surveillance Studies 2007 Polity
And more recently:
Surveillance after Snowden 2015 Polity
You can see him talk about Surveillance on the You Tube at
and watch others in the series it is part of.
Multiple books and films have been produced about this surveillance world. Popular films include: The Net (1995), Gattaca (2007), The Lives of Others (2006), Minority Report (2002), and The Truman Show (1998).
A good source of academic studies is Ball, Lyon, and Haggerty, eds. 2012. The Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies. See also the web sites for Surveillance Studies Net: http://www.surveillance-studies.net/ and State Watch: http://www.statewatch.org/
For an overview of religions, see Adherents:
A major report on Religions and their future populations can be fpund at:
Pew Centre (2015) The Future of World Religions: Population Growth 2010-2050.
see also : http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/
published in August 2015
This report describes how the global religious landscape would change if current demographic trends continue. With each passing year, however, there is a chance that unforeseen events – war, famine, disease, technological innovation, political upheaval, etc. – will alter the size of one religious group or another. Owing to the difficulty of peering more than a few decades into the future, the projections stop at 2050.
- The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
- Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.
- The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010, while the Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.
- In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
- India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
- In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.
- Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Global Religion in the 21st Century
Finding different religions’ places in an interconnected world.
By Mark Jeurgensmeyer, Dinah Griego and John Soboslai
A good introduction to the sociology of religion is:
Phil Zuckerman Invitation to the Sociology of Religion 2003 Routledge
A guide to the world’s conflicts is
Mark Juergensmeyer Global Rebellion: Religious Challenges to the Secular State 2008 University of California
Page 80. The sociologists Charles Tilly died in 2008. There is a memorial web site for him (which contains a lot of details and links to his work) at:
see also some You Tube interviews with him on his work at:
Charles Tilly interviewed
On Manuel Castells,
Here are some of the key works on Digital Activism that are mentioned in the section:
On ‘web activism’ (Dartnell, M. Y. (2015) Insurgency Online: Web Activism and Global Conflict (2015) University of Toronto Press
On ‘online activism’ (McCaughey, M) (2014) Cyberactivism on the Participatory Web, London: Routledge.
On ‘cyberprotest’ (Pickerill, J (2010) Cyberprotest: Environmental Activism Online, Manchester University Press
On ‘liberation technology’ Diamond, L. (2012) Liberation Technology: Social Media and the Struggle for Democracy. John Hopkins University
On ‘digital rebellion’ (Wolfson, T (2014) Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left University of Illinois Press
On the ‘People’s Platform’ (Taylor, A (2014) The People’s Platforms: And Other Digital Delusions. Fourth Estate.
On ‘information politics’ (Jordan, T (2015) Information Politics: Liberation and exploitation in the Digital Society. Pluto Press.
Imogen Tyler Revolting Subjects (2013, Zed Books) which looks at UK local activisms like eviction, the poor and asylum seeking:
An Amazon Blurb says:
Revolting Subjects is a groundbreaking account of social abjection in contemporary
Britain, exploring the processes through which specific populations are figured as ‘revolting’ as well as the practices through which these populations ‘revolt’ against their subjectification. The book utilises a number of high-profile and in-depth case studies – including ‘chavs’, asylum seekers, Gypsies, anarchists and the disabled – to examine the ways in which individuals and groups negotiate restrictive, neoliberal ideologies of selfhood. In doing so, Tyler argues for a deeper psycho-social understanding of the role of aesthetic and representational forms in producing marginality, social exclusion and injustice, whilst also showing how it can be a creative resource for resistance.
Imaginative and original, Revolting Subjects introduces a range of new insights into neoliberal societies, and will be essential reading for those concerned about widening inequalities, growing social unrest and social justice in the wider global context.
The Fragility of Governance
On nations, see:
Anthony D Smith: Nationalism 2001 Polity
His later works include: The Cultural Foundations of Nations 2008 Blackwell
Steven Grosby Nationalism: A very short introduction 2005 Oxford
On Displacement and ‘Fragile States’
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
The IDMC’s Global Overview 2015 reported that the majority of the increase in new displacement during 2014 was the result of protracted crises in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria. These five countries accounted for 60 per cent of new displacement worldwide.
On Fragile States, see
‘Fragile states’ are states where one third of all people surviving on less than $1.25 per day live, half of the world’s children die before the age of five, and one third of maternal deaths occur. They include
- post-conflict/crisis or political transition situations
- deteriorating governance environments
- situations of gradual improvement and
- situations of prolonged crisis or impasse
An estimated 446 million people live in fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS). These states are poorer, with slower economic growth rates and higher population growth rates than other countries. Recent research has identified the stark relationship between fragility and poverty (Collier 2007) and drawn attention to the repeated cycles of violence that pervade these countries (World Bank 2011). Chronic insecurity due to such violence is one of the biggest threats to development in the 21st century.
Violence: I give the following quote:
“Since 3600 BCE, it has been estimated that some 14,500 major wars have been waged, killing some four bil-lion people “ See: Conway W. Henderson (9 February 2010). Understanding International Law. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 212–. ISBN 978-1-4051-9764-9. That said, I do find such statistics a bit of a problem. Matthew White’s Atrictology is full of such numbers. I cannot be sure of any of them. But we can conclude I think: a hell of a lot of wars and a hell of lot of people killed!
The most discussed book on violence in our time is undoubtedly the highly readable book by Steven Pinker:
Pinker, S. (2012) The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, New York: Viking Books.
See an update on it at:
Pinker is not a sociologist but a socio biologist. He also is very keen that academics should write better! He is indeed a good writer himself (unlike most academics), and his book is a good read. One reason perhaps for its huge success!
Look at Pinker’s own web site
where you will find a great deal – reviews of his work, podcasts, and a page which keeps a tally of our progress on violence. See
For one of many critiques of Pinker; see John Gray
John Gray “Steven Pinker is wrong about violence and war” Guardian. 13th March 2015. See:
It has been reviewed very critically by sociologists. See the symposium on his book featured in the leading British sociology journal, Sociology 47 (6) p1224-1232
For a listing of films on Terrorism
Paradise Now (2005) Hany Abu-Assad
The Battle for Algiers, 1966 Gillo Potecorvo
Munich (205) Steven Spielberg
United 93 ( (2006) Paul Greengrass
On General Monitoring of the State of the World
FROM THE BOOK – TO MATCH:
- Societies: search The World Bank; The CIA Factbook; United Nations; NationMaster; New Internationalist: Human Millenium Development Reports
- Populations: search United Nations World Population Reports (UNFPA); World Population Prospects and Projections.
- Cities: search UNhabitat; World Urbanization Prospects; State of the World.
- Economic development: search United Nations; OECD
- Poverty: search World Bank Poverty Net; Global Issues
- Environment: search World Watch Institute; World Resources Institute: IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change); UNEP( United Nations Environmental Panel); Defra UK (Departmentfor Environment, Food and Rural Affairs); Peopleandplanet (Student activism)
- Human rights: search Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; Map of United Nations Indicators on Rights; ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Rights)
- Violence, war, terrorism, genocides: search Global Peace Index; Terrorism Index; Vision of Humanity; Genocide Watch; Stockholm Peace Research Institute
- Migrations, refugees and displaced people: search United Nations High Commisioner for refugees (UNHCR); Refugee International
- Political freedom and democracy: search Global Democracy Ranking; Freedom House
- Religions: search Adherents
- Languages: search Ethnologue
- Values: search World Values Survey
- Maps: search World Atlas; Google Maps; com
- Human Flourishing: search UN Human Development Index; World Happiness Report; Human Security Index; Happy Planet Index.
A quick guide to all this is Economist (2021) Pocket World in Figures 30th edition.
Here are some of the major Website links referred to in the text:
CIA Fact Book
UN Millenium Goals
Human Development Index
http://uk.oneworld.net/article/view/157848 ( as of September 10 2010)
Human Rights Watch
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: The UN Refugee Agency
Political freedom: Freedom House
Political corruption: Transparency International
Languages of the World
Languages and literacy
World Values Survey
(Global Gender Gap
State of the World’s Children
What is Cosmopolitanism?
For the Ghanian-American philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, in his book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a world of Strangers ( 2006)) it is a ‘universal concern and respect for legitimate difference’ (Appiah,2006:xv). For the Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (in Ulf Hannerz Transnational Connections: Culture, People, Places.( 1996) it is ‘a mode of managing meaning’ ‘ a willingness to engage with the other’. ‘It entails an intellectual and aesthetic openness toward divergent cultural experiences, a search for contrasts rather than uniformity. ……(It is) a state of readiness: an ability to make one’s way into other cultures, through listening, looking, intuiting and reflecting (Hannerz: 1996: p103). For the German sociologist Ulrich Beck (who is at the forefront of sociological writers in this field) we have arrived at the ‘cosmopolitan moment’ as an emergent and distinctive feature of modernity: ‘the human condition has itself become cosmopolitan’. We live with the ideas that ‘local, national, ethnic, religious and cosmopolitan cultures and traditions interpenetrate, interconnect and intermingle – cosmopolitanism without provincialism is empty, provincialism without cosmopolitanism is blind’ (Beck Cosmopolitan Vision 2006:p7). For the British sociologist, Robert Fine, cosmopolitanism is bound up deeply with international law and human rights. Indeed, cosmopolitanism is both ‘a determinate social form’ which ‘reconfigures’ a whole sphere of (potentially contradictory) rights as well as being a ‘form of consciousness that involves an understanding of the concept of cosmopolitanism and a capacity to develop the concept in imaginative and reflexive’. He sees it as both outlook (a way of seeing the world) and a condition ( an existing form of the world) (In Cosmopolitanism p 111, 134.) Finally, for the influential US feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum, it raises the issue of a ‘decent world culture’ and a world moral community:
If our world is to be a decent world in the future, we must acknowledge right now that we are citizens of one interdependent world, held together by mutual fellowship as well as the pursuit of mutual advantage, by compassion as well as self interest, by a love of human dignity, in all people, even when there is nothing to gain from cooperating with them. Or rather even when we have to gain the biggest thing of all: participation in a just and morally decent world. Martha Nussbaum Frontiers of Justice 2006: p324
Charles Taylor sees the social imaginary as ‘the ways people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deep normative notions and images that underlies these expectations” (2003: p23).
Charles Taylor Modern Social Imaginaries 2003, Duke
John Thompson says the imagnary is the “The creative and symbolic dimensions of the social world through which people live their collective images of life” (Studies in the Theory of Ideology, 1984, page 6).
The idea derives from Cornelius Castoriades, 1975, The Imaginary Institution of Society. 1975. It enables us to see how people can imagine their lives as a whole. The idea can work to help clarify boundaries and horizons, limits and possibilities. Utopian imaginaries might lead to the emancipation of individuals from entrenched institutions?
See Global Prison Reform 2015
Published by Penal Reform International
The size of the world’s prison population has increased by 10% since 2004.
|It is estimated that more than 10.2 million people, including sentenced and pre-trial prisoners, were held in penal institutions worldwide (from data available in October 2013). 144 out of every 100,000 people of the world were therefore in prison at that time.24
Prison populations are growing in all five continents. In the last 15 years the estimated world prison population has increased by some 25-30 per cent but at the same time the world population has risen by over 20 per cent. The world prison population rate has risen by about six per cent from 136 per 100,000 of the world population to the current rate of 144.25
THE US SITUATION
Half of the world’s prison population of about nine million is held in the US, China or Russia.
Prison rates in the US are the world’s highest, at 724 people per 100,000. In Russia the rate is 581.
At 145 per 100,000, the imprisonment rate of England and Wales is at about the midpoint worldwide.Many of the lowest rates are in developing countries, but overcrowding can be a serious problem. Kenyan prisons have an occupancy level of 343.7%
1 in every 15 African American men and I in every 36 Hispanic men are imprisoned in comparison to in every 106 white men – people of colour make up 30 % of the population, but 60% of those imprisoned…. Indeed the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their life time….. and can expect to have longer sentences…. But they are also likely to go to poorer schools with lower expectations and face harsher punishments than their white peers – the young have higher arrest rate sof arrest, incarcerations and
Women of colour are also more likely to be 3 x more than white women in prison
SEE: Mass Incarceration on Trial, it was published last year. Marie Gottschalk’s Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics
On Millenium goals and Sustainable goals
An account of MDG and SDG is clearly presented on the You Tube at:
sustainable development goals youtube
The United Nations Millennium Development Project which established some eight goals to be achieved between 2000-2015. Goals have been one of the most successful programs in UN history.
See it on You Tube at:
Page 92 Sustainable Development Goals
Jeffrey Sachs speaks about these Development Goals on the You Tube at
For a more critical view: see William Easterly speaking about what they have not really been successfully in Africa
In 2015, a new list has been created of goals to take us to 2015. The final list, to be agreed at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, will address the world’s biggest problems. The goals could direct at least US$700 billion in foreign aid, representing a great 1-in-15 year opportunity to catalyze enormous positive change by 2030
1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere
2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation
10) Reduce inequality within and among countries
11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)
14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
There are now some 17 goals and 169 targets for the SDG. The goals could direct at least US$700 billion in foreign aid towards positive change by 2030. Amongst the goals are such things as: ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’ ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages’ ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries’ ‘promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all’ Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Grand goals: time will tell.
Within the goals are 169 targets, to put a bit of meat on the bones. Targets under goal one, for example, include reducing by at least half the number of people living in poverty by 2030, and eradicating extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25 a day). Under goal five, there’s a target on eliminating violence against women, while goal 16 has a target to promote the rule of law and equal access to justice.
What the Nobel Prize winning economist Angus Deaton calls ‘The wellbeing of the world’. – ‘’all the things that are good for a person, that make for a good life’ ( Deaton, p24) – but this surely raises problems. What is good for a person, may not make a good life? And may not make a good society?
Happiness and flourishing
Nik Marks on speaks positively on The Happy Planet Index
William Davies, in his book The Happiness Industry (2015) is more crtical:
“In a fascinating investigation combining history, science and ideas, William Davies shows how well-being influences all aspects of our lives: business, finance, marketing and smart technology. This book will make you rethink everything from the way you work, the power of the ‘Nudge’, the ever-expanding definitions of depression, and the commercialization of your most private feelings. The Happiness Industry is a shocking and brilliantly argued warning about the new religion of the age: our emotions”.
Here are more web sites that provide entrances to these debates:
Web Sites on Humanism, Human Flourishing and Common Grounds
Human Development and Capabilities Association (HDCA)
“is a global community of academics and practitioners that seeks to build an intellectual community around the ideas of human development and the capability approach, and relate these ideas to the policy arena. The association promotes research within many disciplines, ranging from economics to philosophy, development studies, health, education, law, government, sociology, and more. Our members live in over 70 countries worldwide
Search for Common Ground: Understanding differences, working on commonalities
“Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground works to transform the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving. We work with local partners to find culturally appropriate means to strengthen societies’ capacity to deal with conflicts constructively: to understand the differences and act on the commonalities. Using innovative tools and working at different levels of society, we engage in pragmatic long-term processes of conflict transformation. Our toolbox includes media production – radio, TV, film and print – mediation and facilitation, training, community organizing, sports, theater and music. We promote both individual and institutional change and are committed to measuring the results of our work and increase our effectiveness through monitoring and evaluation. We currently work in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.”
Happy Planet Index
“The HPI measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this.
The index is an efficiency measure, it ranks countries on how many long and happy lives they produce per unit of environmental input.
The 2012 HPI report ranks 151 countries and is the third time the index has been published.
-See more at: http://www.happyplanetindex.org/about/#sthash.CCyKAzjx.dpuf
Happy Planet Index
Well Being Index
And World Happiness Reports
Human Development Index….
Thinking of the past and future
Here are several discussions about the past and future to listen to:
21st Century Challenges
21st Century Challenges considers the big social, environmental and economic challenges of our time. Join us at events; read articles and commentary informed by the latest geographical research; be inspired, think critically, build your networks and share your ideas. It is run by the Royal Geographical Society.
Steven Pinker who argues we have become less violent:
Sarah Harper on the changing population and the rise of an ageing population
Will Davies who is critical of what he calls ‘The Happiness Industry’.
For the full Human Development Index 2021 see
Remember it is published annually
HISTORY: STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS page 100-126
If this quote arouses your interest, look at the Wikipedia entry for a good introductory tour to Cicero and his work.
Finding out about sociology round the world:
Look at the web site for the International Sociological Association
The Newsletter of the British Sociological Association has a regular feature on ‘International News: Around The World”.
We need to distinguish between the sociology of a country and the sociology from a country. Thus there are plenty of books now that give us a sociology of China (like Jean Louis Rocca A Sociology of Modern China (2015) but not so many on ‘ sociology in China’.
Look out for studies of specific countries. On sociology round the world, see for example:
A History of Chinese Sociology, by Zheng Hang-sheng and Li Ying-sheng (China Renmin University Press) includes a fairly detailed appendix listing “Major Events in Chinese Sociology.” Here are a few significant events from the early twentieth century:
- 1921 Xiamen University established the department of history and sociology — first department of sociology in universities run by the Chinese
- 1922 Yu Tian-xiu set up “Association of Chinese Sociology” and started Journal of Sociology
- 1923 Shanghai started the department of sociology; stipulated that the teaching took the theoretical basis of Marxism and Leninism, i.e. historical materialism as its guide.
- 1924 The Fund Board of Chinese Education and Culture was established in Beijing and the Department of Social Survey was led by Tao Meng-he and Li Jing-han. Published a large number of findings reports, including Rural Families in the Suburbs of Beiping.
- 1926 Li Da published Modern Sociology.
- 1928 Chen Han-sheng conducted three large-scale surveys of rural areas in Hebei, Jiangsu and Guangdong Provinces through the early 1930s.
- 1930 The department of sociology in Yanjing University established an experimental base at Qinghe Town, where Xu Shi-lian and Yang Kai-dao directed students to survey the population trend, families, bazars, organizations of village and town in Qinghe Town
This looks like an Indian web site
Indian Political Thought
a key book is:
Sharma Indian Political Thought
You can find the full text of Anthony Black’s History of Islamic Political Thought on line at: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=history+of+muslim+political+thought&hl=en-GB&biw=&bih=&gbv=2&oq=History+of+Muslim+thought&gs_l=heirloom-serp.1.1.0j0i22i30.4741.19439.0.23025.43.34.6.184.108.40.206.1764.30j3.33.0….0…1ac.1.34.heirloom-serp..3.40.1640.KhcrTPO6wQw
Filipe Carreira da Silvae Sociology in Portugal: A Short History ( 2015)
Early histories of sociology in the world
A quick guide to the Axial Age can be found at:
On The Axial Age: see
Robert N Bellah and Hans Joas The Axial Age and Its Consequences 2012
For a discussion of ‘Big History’ and the rise of the Axial Age
For an opening You Tube lecture, see Julian Champion
Zygmunt Baumann Lectures on the Enlightenment and links to his own theories
For a good compendium of discussion and original articles on the Enlightenment see,
Paul Hyland with Olga Gomez and Francesca Greensides
The Enlightenment: A Sourcebook and reader. Routledge . 2003
See also Roy Porter’s classic study of The Enlightenment Penguin (new ed 2001).
And Jonathan Israel’s A Revolution of the Mind (2010) Princeton
And see also Jonahan Israel speaking on you tube at:
Here is the beginnings of a TIME LINE OF SOCIOLOGY. AS much more detailed listing can be found in George Ritzer The Encyclopedia of Sociology Blackwell 2008 Volume 1
551-479 BCE Confucius: Analects of Confucius
469 -399 BCE Socrates and western philosophy
384 -322 BCE Aristotle
360 BCE Plato
973-1048 Al-Biruni, Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad,
1332-1406 Ibn-Khaldun, Mugaddimah
1516 Thomas More Utopia…….
1689-1755 Montesquieu: Persian Letters and The Spirit of the Laws: key books of the Enlightenment which addresses crucial sociological issues of ethnocentrism, government and the social laws which regulate society.
1723-90 Adam Smith (1776) An Inquiry into the nature and causes of the Wealth of nations
1762 The Social Contract etc……….
Comte defines Sociology as a discipline- the term invented.
1870-71 the Paris Commune
19—- The Tradition of the ‘Chicago School’ associated with Robert Park and the examination of urban life….
1905 American Sociological Society formed (becoming American Sociological Association in 1959)
1907 Manufacture of the first Fiord motorcar
1951 British Sociological Association founded
1951 Indian Sociological Association founded
1992 European Sociological Association founded (and conference in Vienna)
On the hidden/subterranean histories of sociology, see:
Sociological Amnesia edited by Alex Law and Eric Royal Lubeck
see also: Corpse to Corpse. BSA Network. Issue 121. Autumn 2015.
There is much to find online about Du Bois at:
See the page of the DuBois Centre at
On the hidden history iof Du Bois,. See
The Scholar denied ( 2015) by Aldon Morris who speaks about his book at:
Page 107 The Chicago School of Sociology
On 1968, see:
A note on Key Texts
The list in the book is my own personal listing, which was very hard to draw up. I decided they should all be dead and this excluded all living sociologists. It became clear too that most of them were men and that I should not fudge this issue by adding in token women. I hence created a separate kind of table for ‘women sociologists’.
The International Sociological Association has listed 10 books of the 20th century and it is this:
|1||Weber, Max||Economy and Society||20.9|
|2||Mills, Charles Wright||The Sociological Imagination||13.0|
|3||Merton, Robert K.||Social Theory and Social Structure||11.4|
|4||Weber, Max||The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism||10.3|
|5||Berger, P.L. and Luckmann, T.||The Social Construction of Reality||9,9|
|6||Bourdieu, Pierre||Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste||9.5|
|7||Elias, Norbert||The Civilizing Process||6.6|
|8||Habermas, Jürgen||The Theory of Communicative Action||6.4|
|9||Parsons, Talcott||The Structure of Social Action||6.2|
|10||Goffman, Erving||The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life||5.5|
For a recent account of ‘Sociology Best Sellers’ – with a strong US bias- see:
For the continuing debate see:
Most cited journal articles between 2008-12.
I would not take this too seriously as an indicator of much except a small group of people. But they like these kinds of lists:
On multiculturalism, see;
See Seyla Banhabib The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Culture 2002 Princeton especially the introduction
Chandra Talpade Mohanty Feminism Without Borders;Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity 2003 Duke will provide a major account of how these problems and issues have developed within multiculturalism and feminism.
On the contemporary critique of multiculturalism by sociologists see:
The Post-Modern Reader (AD Reader) [Paperback] Charles Jencks (Editor) Wiley 2010 2nd ed
The Post-colonial Studies Reader by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin Routledge 2005
Essential Feminist Reader (Modern Library Classics) [Paperback]
Estelle B. Freedman 2007 Modern Library Inc
Feminist Theory: A Reader [Paperback]
Wendy Kolmar (Author), Frances Bartkowski (Author) 2nd ed 2004 McGraw Hill
P89-90: Feminism unbound
See Lengermann & Niebrugge-Brantley’s excellent The Women Founders (1998) on all this).This has largely happened over the past forty years and has enriched…….
valuable source for original writings
Future histories and challenges
History of British Sociology
See the You Tube discussion
John Urry and Chris Rojek British Sociology since 1945
Recorded at the British Sociological Association annual conference 2011, sponsored by SAGE.
Finally look at some of the web sites of some key sociological associations like:
- British Sociological Association (BSA) http://www.britsoc. co.uk
- American Sociological Association (ASA http://www.asanet. org
- European Sociological Association (ESA) http://www. europeansociology.org
- International Sociological Association (ISA) http://www.isasociology.org
These sites have sections that can assist students.
FOR THE NEXT FOUR CHAPTERS,
PLEASE MOVE ON TO THE NEXT SECTION.