Visions of the Sociological Tradition / Edition 2

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Overview

This book is a masterful account of the social science enterprise by one of its most accomplished practitioners. Moving from the origins of systematic knowledge in ancient Greece to the present day, Donald Levine offers a richly detailed, ingeniously organized introduction to the cornerstone works of Western social thought. Visions has three meanings, each of which corresponds to a part of the book. In Part One, Levine presents the ways sociologists have rendered accounts of their discipline, as a series of narratives - or life stories - that build upon each other, in an effort to envisage a coherent past for the sake of a purposive present. In Part Two, Levine offers his own narrative, a dialogue among the strands of the sociological tradition: Hellenic, British, French, German, Marxian, Italian, and American. Clearly and concisely, he tracks the sociological imagination through a series of conversations across generations. From classic philosophy to pragmatism, Levine maps the web of a visionary statements from which social science has grown in response to three recurring questions: How shall we live? What makes humans moral creatures? How do we understand the world? He anchors the creation of social knowledge to ethical foundations, and shows how differences in those foundations disposed the shapers of modern social science to proceed in vastly different ways. In Part Three, Levine sets the crisis of fragmentation in social science against the fragmentation of experience and community. By reconstructing the history of social thought as a series of fundamentally moral engagements with common themes, he suggests new uses for sociology's resources: not only as insight about the nature of modernity, but also as a model of mutually respectful communication in an increasingly fractious world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226475479
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2008
  • Series: Nature of Human Society Ser.
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald N. Levine is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he served as dean of the College from 1982 to 1987.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Prologue 1
Pt. 1 Visions of the Past: Six Histories in Search of a Tradition
1 Disciplines and Their Stories 7
2 Positivist and Pluralist Narratives 13
3 Synthetic Narratives 35
4 Humanist and Contextualist Narratives 59
5 The Changing Need for Narratives 83
Pt. 2 Visions of the Future: Seven Traditions in Search of a Good Society
6 The Hellenic Tradition 105
7 The British Tradition 121
8 The French Tradition 152
9 The German Tradition 181
10 The Marxian Tradition 212
11 The Italian Tradition 231
12 The American Tradition 251
Pt. 3 Visions of the Present: Social Science in Crisis or Transformation?
13 Forming and Transforming a Discipline 271
14 Diagnoses of Our Time 284
15 On the Heritage of Sociology 298
16 In Quest of a Secular Ethic 317
Epilogue: Dialogue as an Antidote to Fragmentation? 327
Appendix A: Selected Dates in the History of Western Social Thought 332
Appendix B: Graphic Depictions of the Six Types of Narrative 334
Appendix C: Basic Postulates of the Seven Traditions 335
References 337
Index 355
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