In this collaboratively authored work, five distinguished sociologists develop an ambitious theoretical model of "cultural trauma"--and on this basis build a new understanding of how social groups interact with emotion to create new and binding understandings of social responsibility. Looking at the "meaning making process" as an open-ended social dialogue in which strikingly different social narratives vie for influence, they outline a strongly constructivist approach to trauma and apply this theoretical model in a series of extensive case studies, including the Nazi Holocaust, slavery in the United States, and September 11, 2001.
This book is an expanded version of the Clark Kerr Lectures of 2012, delivered by Neil Smelser at the University of California at Berkeley in January and February of that year. The initial exposition is of a theory of change--labeled structural accretion--that has characterized the history of American higher education, mainly (but not exclusively) of universities. The essence of the theory is that institutions of higher education progressively add functions, structures, and constituencies as they grow, but seldom shed them, yielding increasingly complex structures. The first two lectures trace the multiple ramifications of this principle into other arenas, including the essence of complexity in the academic setting, the solidification of academic disciplines and departments, changes in faculty roles and the academic community, the growth of political constituencies, academic administration and governance, and academic stratification by prestige. In closing, Smelser analyzes a number of contemporary trends and problems that are superimposed on the already-complex structures of higher education, such as the diminishing public support without alterations of governance and accountability, the increasing pattern of commercialization in higher education, the growth of distance-learning and for-profit institutions, and the spectacular growth of temporary and part-time faculty.
Terrorism is the most clear and present danger we confront today, yet no phenomenon is more poorly understood by policymakers, the media, and the general public. The Faces of Terrorism is the first serious interdisciplinary examination of terrorism in all its facets. What gives rise to it, who are its proponents and how do they think, and how--and why--does it work? Neil Smelser begins by tackling the fundamental problem of defining what exactly terrorism is. He shows why a precise definition has eluded us until now, and he proposes one that takes into account the full complexities of this unconventional and politically charged brand of violence. He explores the root causes and conditions of terrorism, and examines the ideologies that inspire and fuel it throughout the world. Smelser looks closely at the terrorists themselves--their recruitment, their motivations, the groups they form, their intended audiences, and their uses of the media in pursuing their agendas. He studies the target societies as well, unraveling the complicated social and psychological impacts of having to cope with the ever-present threat of a terrorist strike--and responding when one occurs. He explains what it means to live under constant threat of terrorism, and addresses the thorny domestic and foreign policy challenges this poses. Throughout, Smelser draws from the latest findings in sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, psychology, psychiatry, and history. The Faces of Terrorism provides the breadth of scope necessary to understand--and ultimately eliminate--this most pressing global threat.
Neil J. Smelser, one of the most important and influential American sociologists, traces the discipline of sociology from 1969 to the early twenty-first century in Getting Sociology Right: A Half-Century of Reflections. Examining sociology as a vocation and building on the work of Talcott Parsons, Smelser discusses his views on the discipline of sociology and shows how his perspective of the field evolved in the postwar era.
The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of economic sociology available. The first edition, copublished in 1994 by Princeton University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation as a synthesis of the burgeoning field of economic sociology, soon established itself as the definitive presentation of the field, and has been widely read, reviewed, and adopted. Since then, the field of economic sociology has continued to grow by leaps and bounds and to move into new theoretical and empirical territory. The second edition, while being as all-embracing in its coverage as the first edition, represents a wholesale revamping. Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg have kept the main overall framework intact, but nearly two-thirds of the chapters are new or have new authors. As in the first edition, they bring together leading sociologists as well as representatives of other social sciences. But the thirty chapters of this volume incorporate many substantial thematic changes and new lines of research--for example, more focus on international and global concerns, chapters on institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, organization and networks, and the economic sociology of the ancient world. The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Second Edition is the definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures. It is a must read for all faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field.A thoroughly revised and updated version of the most comprehensive treatment of economic sociology available Almost two-thirds of the chapters are new or have new authors Authors include leading sociologists as well as representatives of other social sciences Substantial thematic changes and new lines of research, including more focus on international and global concerns, institutional analysis, the transition from socialist economies, and organization and networks The definitive resource on what continues to be one of the leading edges of sociology and one of its most important interdisciplinary adventures A must read for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates doing work in the field
This volume presents those writings of Marx that best reveal his contribution to sociology, particularly to the theory of society and social change. The editor, Neil J. Smelser, has divided these selections into three topical sections and has also included works by Friedrich Engels. The first section, "The Structure of Society," contains Marx's writings on the material basis of classes, the basis of the state, and the basis of the family. Among the writings included in this section are Marx's well-known summary from the Preface of A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy and his equally famous observations on the functional significance of religion in relation to politics. The second section is titled "The Sweep of Historical Change. " The first selection here contains Marx's first statement of the main precapitalist forms of production. The second selection focuses on capitalism, its contradictions, and its impending destruction. Two brief final selections treat the nature of communism, particularly its freedom from the kinds of contradictions that have plagued all earlier forms of societies. The last section, "The Mechanisms of Change," reproduces several parts of Marx's analysis of the mechanisms by which contradictions develop in capitalism and generate group conflicts. Included is an analysis of competition and its effects on the various classes, a discussion of economic crises and their effects on workers, and Marx's presentation of the historical specifics of the class struggle. In his comprehensive Introduction to the selections, Professor Smelser provides a biography of Marx, indentifies the various intellectual traditions which formed the background for Marx's writings, and discusses the selections which follow. The editor describes Marx's conception of society as a social system, the differences between functionalism and Marx's theories, and the dynamics of economic and political change as analyzed by Marx.
These invaluable essays offer an insider's perspective on three decades at a major American university during a time of political turmoil. Neil J. Smelser, who spent thirty-six years as a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, sheds new light on a full range of the issues that dominated virtually all institutions of higher learning during the second half of the twentieth century. Smelser considers student activism--in particular the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley--political surprises, affirmative action, multiculturalism and the culture wars, and much more. As one of the leading sociologists of his generation, Smelser is uniquely qualified to convey and analyze the complexities of administrating a first-rate and very large university as it encounters a highly politicized environment.
A comprehensive history of how working-class education in nineteenth-century Britain--often paralyzed by class, religious, and economic conflict--struggled forward toward change.
The events and aftermath of September 11, 2001, profoundly changed the course of history of the nation. They also brought the phenomenon known as terrorism to the forefront of the nation's consciousness. As it became thus focused, the limits of scientific understanding of terrorism and the capacity to develop policies to deal with it became even more evident. The objective of this report is to bring behavioral and social science perspectives to bear on the nature, determinants, and domestic responses to contemporary terrorism as a way of making theoretical and practical knowledge more adequate to the task. It also identifies areas of research priorities for the behavioral and social sciences.
To love and to work, Freud's famous definition of psychological maturity becomes the focusing principle for renewed examination of dominant themes that play themselves in adult life. Leading experts explore the states and crises adults pass through.
This volume is a one-of-a-kind contribution to applied social science and the product of a long collaboration between an established, interdisciplinary sociologist and a successful banking executive. Together, Neil Smelser and John Reed use a straightforward approach to presenting substantive social science knowledge and indicate its relevance and applicability to decision-making, problem-solving and policy-making. Among the areas presented are space-and-time coordinates of social life; cognition and bias; group and network effects; the role of sanctions; organizational dynamics; and macro-changes associated with economic development. Finally, the authors look at the big picture of why society at large demands and needs social-science knowledge, and how the academy actually supplies relevant knowledge.
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