Major Works
by Randall Collins


Interaction Ritual Chains

Interaction Ritual

From the Publisher:

Sex, smoking, and social stratification are three very different social phenomena. And yet, argues sociologist Randall Collins, they and much else in our social lives are driven by a common force: interaction rituals. Interaction Ritual Chains is a major work of sociological theory that attempts to develop a "radical microsociology." It proposes that successful rituals create symbols of group membership and pump up individuals with emotional energy, while failed rituals drain emotional energy. Each person flows from situation to situation, drawn to those interactions where their cultural capital gives them the best emotional energy payoff. Thinking, too, can be explained by the internalization of conversations within the flow of situations; individual selves are thoroughly and continually social, constructed from the outside in.

The first half of Interaction Ritual Chains is based on the classic analyses of Durkheim, Mead, and Goffman and draws on micro-sociological research on conversation, bodily rhythms, emotions, and intellectual creativity. The second half discusses how such activities as sex, smoking, and social stratification are shaped by interaction ritual chains. For example, the book addresses the emotional and symbolic nature of sexual exchanges of all sorts--from hand-holding to masturbation to sexual relationships with prostitutes--while describing the interaction rituals they involve. This book will appeal not only to psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists, but to those in fields as diverse as human sexuality, religious studies, and literary theory.

The Discovery of Society

Discovery of Society

From the Publisher:
In this now classic text, Collins and Makowsky explore the lives and ideas of the social thinkers who have shaped and continue to forge traditions in sociology. Focusing on the great names in the field, they weave biographical and conceptual details into a tapestry of the history of social thought of the 19th and 20th centuries..

The biographical and historical details provide context, giving the reader a sense of where ideas and discoveries have come from and where they may be going, as well as an appreciation of these thinkers as real human beings who were influenced by the social, political, and economic environments in which they lived.

While the main thrust of this revision continues to be the development of the great classical tradition, Collins and Makowsky do an excellent job discussing contemporary developments as the friuts of real, on-going efforts to enhance our understanding of society--a task that will never be complete. Accessible and engaging, The Discovery of Society provides a solid foundatio in social/sociological theory, presenting theory as a dynamic, relevant, exciting, and on-going enterprise.

The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change

Sociology of Philosophies

From the Publisher:
Distinguished by both the American Sociological Association (1999) and the Association of American Publishers (1998), Collins comparative study of intellectual development within cultures and the development of ideas across cultures sheds new light on the history of philosophy.

Four Sociological Traditions

Four Sociological Traditions

From the Publisher:
This text presents a concise intellectual history of sociology organized around the development of four classic schools of thought:

Sociological Insight: An Introduction to Non-Obvious Sociology

Sociological Insight

From the Publisher:
Revised and expanded to incorporate recent research, this essential classic now offers a more comprehensive introduction to many of sociology's most interesting and elegant ideas, written with a grace and wit that have delighted a generation of students.

Macrohistory: Essays in the Sociology of the Long Run

Macro History

From the Publisher:
This book explores the accomplishments of the golden age of "macrohistory, " the sociologically informed analysis of longterm patterns of political, economic, and social change that has reached new heights of sophistication in the last decades of the twentieth century. It describes the scholarly revolution that has taken place in the Marxian-inspired theory of revolutions, the shift to a state-breakdown model in which revolutions, rather than bubbling up from discontent below, start at the top in the fiscal strains of the state. The author links revolutions to military-centered transformations of the state, and reviews how he used this theory in the early 1980s to predict the breakdown of the Soviet empire. He goes on to show the implications of viewing states and societies from the outside in, including the geopolitical patterns that affect the legitimacy of dominant ethnic groups and thus determine the direction of ethnic assimilation or fragmentation. Another application is the author's new theory of democratization, which asserts that democracy depends not merely on a widening of the franchise but on a geopolitical pattern favoring federated structures of collegially shared power. Using this new theoretical tool, the author argues that Anglophone scholars have polemically misinterpreted German history, and that the roots of the Holocaust cannot be determined by German-bashing but must be attributed to processes that affect all of us. Other essays generalize about the historical dynamics and transformations of markets. Going beyond Weber's Eurocentric model, the author proposes a more general theory that explains the origins of capitalism in Japan on an independent but parallel path.

Max Weber: A Skeleton Key

Max Weber: A Skeleton Key

From the Publisher:
A concise overview of sociology's greatest classic thinker. Weber emerges as a multisided intellectual personality, whose intellectual ambivalence is related to a neurotic breakdown in mid career and to the compromises he was forced to make among the conflicting political and intellectual currents of his time. Here we see what kinds of philosophical idealism Weber favored and what kinds he rejected, as well as his position on the "battle of methods" among the economists of his day. Weber's famous "Protestant Ethic" thesis is put in proper perspective as an intellectual gambit in one particular period of his life, rather than as his central achievement. Weber's overall view of social change is examined, drawing on several of his crucial but little-known works, on the sociology of ancient agrarian societies and on the long chain of organizational conditions that finally led to modern capitalism. Also treated are Weber's major works on the sociology of religion and his contributions to systematic theory, especially social stratification. The many strands of Weber's theorizing, and his tremendous scope of comparisons across world history, are here brought into a clear and manageable focus.

"Randall Collins is the leading sociological theorist of his generation. He has also done more than anyone else to use and develop Weberian sociology. Accordingly we expect much from Collins on Weber and Max Weber does not disappoint."
--Whitney Pope, Indiana University

"A lively, efficient, reliable interpretation, captivating for the novice, provocative for the expert. . .Typical Collins."
--Alan Sica, University of Kansas

"A good introductory survey of Weber's major writings. It is interesting reading and highly informative."
--Contemporary Sociology

"A good capsule biography . . . very readable . . .honors clarity, style, and the value of popular understanding."
--The Madison Independent Books in Review

"Ideal for an introductory course on Weber."


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