SOCY 711: Contemporary Scholars: Readings

These readings accompany Contemporary Scholars, a graduate theory seminar taught by Mathieu Deflem.


In this schedule of readings, theoretically (T) and empirically (E) oriented readings are distinguished.

Classical Sociological Theory. By Mathieu Deflem. Summary notes.

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1978. "On the Centrality of the Classics." In A. Giddens and J. Turner, eds., Sociological Theory Today. Stanford and MacMillan, pp. 11-57.


Anthony Giddens. 1976. "Classical Social Theory and the Origins of Modern Sociology." American Journal of Sociology 81(4):703-729.

Coser, Lewis A. 1976. "Sociological Theory From the Chicago Dominance to 1965." Annual Review of Sociology 2:145-160.

Some classical theory papers by Mathieu Deflem:

  • The Sociology of the Sociology of Money: Simmel and the Contemporary Battle of the Classics. Journal of Classical Sociology 3(1):67-96, 2003.
  • Ferdinand Tönnies on Crime and Society: An Unexplored Contribution to Criminological Sociology. History of the Human Sciences 12(3):87-116, 1999.

The Systems Theory of Talcott Parsons

Parsons, Talcott. 1935. The Place of Ultimate Values in Sociological Theory. International Journal of Ethics 45:282-316. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1937. "The Unit Act of Action Systems," pp. 43-48 in his The Structure of Social Action. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1938. "The Role of Ideas in Social Action." American Sociological Review 3(5):652-664. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1938. "The Role of Theory in Social Research." American Sociological Review 3(1):13-20. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1948. "The Position of Sociological Theory." American Sociological Review 13(2):156-171. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1942. Some Sociological Aspects of the Fascist Movements. Social Forces 21:138-147. E

Parsons, Talcott. 1942. "Age and Sex in the Social Structure of the United States." American Sociological Review 7(5):604-616. E

Parsons, Talcott. 1943. The Kinship System of the Contemporary United States. American Anthropologist 45:22-38. E

Parsons, Talcott. 1971. "Action Systems and Social Systems." From his The System of Modern Societies. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, pp. 4-8. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1950. "The Prospects of Sociological Theory." American Sociological Review 15(1):3-16. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1953. Some Comments on the State of the General Theory of Action. American Sociological Review, Vol. 18, No. 6. (1953), pp. 618-631. T

Parsons, Talcott. 1963. On the Concept of Political Power. Proceedings American Philosophical Society 107:232-262. T

The Functional-Structuralism of Robert K. Merton

Merton, Robert K. 1994. "A Life of Learning." Charles Homer Haskins Lecture for 1994. T

Merton, Robert K. 1987. "Three Fragments from a Sociologist's Notebooks: Establishing the Phenomenon, Specified Ignorance, and Strategic Research Materials." Annual Review of Sociology 13:1-28. T

Merton, Robert K. 1945. "Sociological Theory." American Journal of Sociology 50(6):462-473. T

Merton, Robert K. 1968. Manifest and Latent Functions. From Social Theory and Social Structure. Glencoe: Free Press. T

Merton, Robert K. 1948. "The Bearing of Empirical Research upon the Development of Social Theory." American Sociological Review 13(5):505-515. T

Merton, Robert K. 1936. "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action." American Sociological Review 1(6):894-904. T

Merton, Robert K. 1938. "Social Structure and Anomie." American Sociological Review 3(5):672-682. E

Merton, Robert K. 1995. "The Thomas Theorem and The Matthew Effect." Social Forces 74(2) 379-424 [PDF file]. E

The Conflict Theory of Lewis Coser

Coser, Lewis. 1993. A Sociologist's Atypical Life. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 19. pp. 1-15. See also this obituary. T

Coser, Lewis. 1975. Presidential Address: Two Methods in Search of a Substance. American Sociological Review, Vol. 40, No. 6., pp. 691-700. T

Coser, Lewis. 1956. Conclusion. From his The Functions of Social Conflict. New York: The Free Press. T

Coser, Lewis. 1962. Some Functions of Deviant Behavior and Normative Flexibility. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 68, No. 2., pp. 172-181. E

Coser, Lewis. 1972. The Alien as a Servant of Power: Court Jews and Christian Renegades. American Sociological Review, Vol. 37, No. 5., pp. 574-581. E

The Structuralism of Peter Blau

Blau, Peter M. 1995. A Circuitous Path to Macrostructural Theory. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 21, pp. 1-19. See also Colleagues Remember Peter Blau. I

Blau, Peter M. 1960. A Theory of Social Integration. American Journal of Sociology 65: 545-556. T

Blau, Peter M. 1960. Structural Effects. American Sociological Review, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 178-193. T

Blau, Peter M. 1957. Occupational Bias and Mobility. American Sociological Review, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 392-399. E

Blau, Peter M. 1974. Parameters of Social Structure. American Sociological Review 39: 615-635. T

Blau, Peter M. 1970. A Formal Theory of Differentiation in Organizations. American Sociological Review 35: 201-218. T

Blau, Peter M. 1977. A Macrosociological Theory of Social Structure. American Journal of Sociology 83: 26-54. T

Judith R. Blau, & Blau, Peter M. 1982. The Cost of Inequality: Metropolitan Structure and Violent Crime. American Sociological Review, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 114-129. E

Blau, Peter M., et al. 1979. Dissecting Types of Professional Schools. Sociology of Education, Vol. 52, No. 1, pp. 7-19. E

The Structuralism of Bruce H. Mayhew, Jr.

Bruce H. Mayhew. 1980. Structuralism versus Individualism: 1, Shadowboxing in the Dark. Social Forces 59:335-375.

Bruce H. Mayhew. 1981. Structuralism versus Individualism: Part II, Ideological and Other Obfuscations. Social Forces 59(3):627-648.

Bruce H. Mayhew, Roger L. Levinger, J. Miller McPherson, Thomas F. James. 1972. System Size and Structural Differentiation in Formal Organizations: A Baseline Generator for Two Major Theoretical Propositions. American Sociological Review, Vol. 37, No. 5, pp. 629-633. T

Grant W. Childers, Bruce H. Mayhew, Jr., Louis N. Gray. 1971. Size and Structural Differentiation in Military Organizations. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 76, No. 5, pp. 813-830. E

Bruce H. Mayhew. 1973. System Size and Ruling Elites. American Sociological Review, Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 468-475. T

Bruce H. Mayhew. 1974. Baseline Models of System Structure. American Sociological Review 39: 137-143. T

Bruce H. Mayhew, Roger L. Levinger. 1976. Size and the Density of Interaction in Human Aggregates. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 86-110. T

Bruce H. Mayhew, Roger L. Levinger. 1976. On the Emergence of Oligarchy in Human Interaction. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 81, No. 5, pp. 1017-1049. E

Bruce H. Mayhew, Roger L. Levinger. 1977. Conflicting Interpretations of Human Interaction. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 83, No. 2, pp. 455-459. T

Bruce H. Mayhew; J. Miller McPherson; Thomas Rotolo; Lynn Smith-Lovin. 1995. Sex and Race Homogeneity in Naturally Occurring Groups. Social Forces 74(1):15-52. E

The Radical Sociology of C. Wright Mills

C. Wright Mills. 1959. On Intellectual Craftsmanship last chapter of The Sociological Imagination. T

C. Wright Mills. 1958. The Structure of Power in American Society. British Journal of Sociology 9(1):29-41. E

C. Wright Mills. 1945. The American Business Elite: A Collective Portrait. The Journal of Economic History 5:20-44.

C. Wright Mills. Excerpts and excerpts from the Power Elite. E

C. Wright Mills. 1940. Situated Actions and Vocabularies of Motive. American Sociological Review 5(6):904-913.

C. Wright Mills. 1946. The Middle Classes in Middle-Sized Cities: The Stratification and Political Position of Small Business and White Collar Strata. American Sociological Review 11(5):520-529. E

The Sociology of Jürgen Habermas

Habermas, Jürgen. 1975. Theorems of Legitimation Crisis (1975). Excerpt from Legitimation Crisis, Chapter 6, (transl. by Thomas McCarthy). Boston: Beacon Press, 1975. T

Habermas, Jürgen. 2002. Letter to America: An Interview with Jürgen Habermas. The Nation, December 16, 2002. E

Habermas, Jürgen. 2003. Intolerance and Discrimination. International Journal of Constitutional Law 1. E

Habermas, Jürgen. 2001. Why Europe Needs a Constitution. From New Left Review. E

Habermas, Jürgen. 1995. "Multiculturalism and the Liberal State." Stanford Law Review 47:849-853. E

Habermas, Jürgen. 2001. Faith and Knowledge.; Speech by Habermas on Biotechnology, ePuget Magazine. E

Habermas, Jürgen. 2003. Interpreting the Fall of a Monument. Constellations 10: 364-370. E

Habermas, Jürgen. 2005. Equal Treatment of Cultures and the Limits of Postmodern Liberalism. Journal of Political Philosophy, Volume 13, Number 1, March 2005 , pp. 1-28. T

Habermas, Jürgen. 2006. Religion in the Public Sphere. European Journal of Philosophy 14: 1-25. E

See the Contemporary Scholars overview page. 

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