WEMSK42 - Getting Acquainted with a New Field - Sociology
Sociology is the most splintered
of the social sciences. You
notice this when you look at websites; contrary to practices in
other fields, they are often devoted to particular schools, there
is a Parsonsian website, a Simmelian website, etc. etc. Probably
the best approach to such a field is through vocabulary and
concepts, starting with introductions, such as those found in the
Sammlung Goeschen, the Que sais-je?, and the College Outline
Series, e.g. New Outline of the Principles of Sociology, ed. Alfred
McClung Lee et al. College Outline Series (NY: Barnes & Noble,
1946). Note that, at this stage, the age of the book is not
important. Elementary guides can be an aid along the way, cf. The
Student Sociologist's Handbook, ed. Pauline Bart & Linda Frankel,
4th ed. (NY: Random House, 1986). This is meant for the
undergraduate and is perhaps too hand-holding, but that may be what
you need at the moment.
1. Your best first guide is:
Sources of Information in the Social
Sciences: A Guide to the Literature, 3d ed., ed. William H. Web et
al. (Chicago: ALA, 1986). The third edition of a noble old standby
edited originally by Carl M. White; great annotations.
2. Do not replace the above,
but supplement it by: Social Science
Reference Sources: A Practical Guide, ed. Tze-chung Li, 3d ed.
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000). Well annotated.
Particularly noteworthy for its "Reference Sources in an Electronic
Age," 3-21, and its "Appendix: Cited URLs," 447-452. For a
different list of WWW resources in sociology, see: Scientific
American Guide to Science on the Internet, ed. Edward Renehan (NY:
ibooks, 2000), "Sociology," 455-470.
3. A good read-through: Bert
F. Hoselitz, A Reader's Guide to the
Social Sciences (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1959). With
contributions by various authorities.
a. Stephen A. Aby, Sociology:
A Guide to Reference Information
Sources, 2d ed. Reference Sources in the Social Sciences
(Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1997). Good annotations. Good
for online databases. Good list of journals with commentary.
b. Tom B. Bottomore, Sociology:
A Guide to Problems and Literature,
3d ed. (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987). An old and trusted standby.
c. International Bibliography
of Sociology (London: Routledge,
1952). The standard annual bibliography.
a. Your best first port of call
is still Bernard Berelson and Gary
A. Steiner, Human Behavior. An Inventory of Scientific Findings
(NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964). Arranged by concepts, with
quotations, bibliography and discussion. Here you can find out all
you ever wanted about such things as cognitive dissonance and
b. Another example of the `quotation'
approach: Panos D. Bardis,
Dictionary of Quotations in Sociology (Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1985). By an authority.
c. An interesting book by a group
of outstanding experts: The
Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists, ed. George Ritzer
(Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).
a. Theories of Society, ed. Talcott
Parsons, et al., 2 vols.
(Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1961). Presents 86 thinkers who
between the years 1890 and 1935 had great influence on our thinking
on social issues. A MUST read through, with bibliographies,
commentary, the whole works.
b. A good set of articles on
methodology, in spite of its age:
Symposium on Sociological Theory, ed. Llewellyn Gross (NY: Harper
& Row, 1959).
c. Amitai & Eva Etzioni, Social Change (NY: Basic Books, 1964).
d. Sociological Methods: A Sourcebook,
ed. Norman K. Denzin
(Chicago: Aldine, 1970).
a. Allan G. Johnson, The Blackwell
Dictionary of Sociology. A
User's Guide to Sociological Language, 2d ed. (Oxford: Blackwell,
2000). The best. Most of the items have bibliography.
b. Raymond Boudon and Francois
Bourricaud, A Critical Dictionary of
Sociology, sel. & tr. Peteer Hamilton (Chicago: UChicagoP, 1989).
With a "thematic index".
c. A Dictionary of Sociology,
ed. Gordon Marshall. Oxford Paperback
Reference (Oxford: OUP, 1998). Good.
d. For a German counterpart to
Boudon and Bourricaud (b above):
Woerterbuch der Soziologie. Kroeners Taschenausgabe 410 (Stuttgart:
Kroener, 1972). Extensive bibliographies.
5. Encyclopedia of Sociology,
ed. Edgar F. Borgatta et al., 2d ed.,
5 vols. MacMillan Reference (NY: Gale Group, 2000). Much improved
in this 2d ed. It might be worthwhile xeroxing off the "List of
Articles" as a sort of taxonomy of the field.
a. The Sociology of Knowledge.
A Reader, ed. James E. Curtis and
John W. Petras (NY: Praeger, 1970). An interesting set of readings
in the then new field of the Sociology of Knowledge, "all knowledge
is social in nature". For one man's view of the field: Irving L.
Horowitz, Philosophy, Science and the Sociology of Knowledge.
American Lecture Series 442 (Springfield, IL: Thomas, 1961).
b. Robert W. Friedrichs, A Sociology
of Sociology (NY: Free Press,
7. I would be remiss if I did
not mention two old standbys by
Pitirim A. Sorokin: Contemporary Sociological Theories. Harper
Torchbooks 3046 (NY: Harper & Row, 1964; repr. of 1928 vol.),
Sociological Theories of Today (NY: Harper & Row, 1966). These were the
guidebooks for the graduate students of yesteryear.