French Sociology (Paperback)
  • French Sociology (Paperback)

French Sociology (Paperback)

Paperback 288 Pages / Published: 06/11/2015
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French Sociology offers a uniquely comprehensive view of the oldest and still one of the most vibrant national traditions in sociology. Johan Heilbron covers the development of sociology in France from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century through the discipline's expansion in the late twentieth century, tracing the careers of figures from Auguste Comte to Pierre Bourdieu. Presenting fresh interpretations of how renowned thinkers such as Emile Durkheim and his collaborators defined the contours and content of the discipline and contributed to intellectual renewals in a wide range of other human sciences, Heilbron's sophisticated book is both an innovative sociological study and a major reference work in the history of the social sciences.Heilbron recounts the halting process by which sociology evolved from a new and improbable science into a legitimate academic discipline. Having entered the academic field at the end of the nineteenth century, sociology developed along two separate tracks: one in the Faculty of Letters, engendering an enduring dependence on philosophy and the humanities, the other in research institutes outside of the university, in which sociology evolved within and across more specialized research areas. Distinguishing different dynamics and various cycles of change, Heilbron portrays the ways in which individuals and groups maneuvered within this changing structure, seizing opportunities as they arose. French Sociology vividly depicts the promises and pitfalls of a discipline that up to this day remains one of the most interdisciplinary endeavors among the human sciences in France.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801456633
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 482 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 17 mm


"In French Sociology, Johan Heilbron presents all the material one needs to understand post-Comtean and post-Durkheimian sociology. As in his previous work, this new treatment is balanced and reasonable, as well as trustworthy and comprehensive. It clears up long-standing confusions about the complex tradition Heilbron so skillfully unpacks."

-- Alan Sica, The Pennsylvania State University, author of Max Weber and the New Century

"This is a powerful work of historical sociology, intellectual history, and social theory. The book exemplifies a sort of eventful historical sociology of social science, in which internal struggles and external forces are brought together in subtle ways to tell an analytic story about the rise of an improbable discipline. The book makes a compelling case for the French sociological tradition from Comte to Durkheim and on to Bourdieu as the essential core of the sociological discipline.It provides a crucial addition to a small shelf of scholarly works available in English (and for that matter in French) on the history of French academic sociology."

-- George Steinmetz, University of Michigan and Centre europeen de sociologie

"No history of the discipline has ever articulated so finely the evolution of its institutions, an interpretation of the trajectories of its central actors, and the presentation of its main theoretical, methodological, and empirical results."

-- Frederic Lebaron * Contemporary Sociology *

"Reading Heilbron's study affords an unusual degree of intellectual satisfaction. It is thoroughly researched, up-to-date with the latest scholarship, and, although Bourdieusian in method, appropriately detached and non-partisan in its intellectual judgments. It tells a coherent overall story, continuing the author's fine The Rise of Social Theory, of the consolidation and subsequent reconsolidations of Comte's projected discipline across two centuries and tells that story in a sequence of stages whose periodization is well-motivated by reference to the distinctive dynamics of each."

-- Steven Lukes * Theory and Society *

"French Sociology is a striking illustration of the relevance of an historical sociological approach to the social sciences that succeeds in articulating intellectual history and sociology of science. One can only hope that it will inspire other works of the same type."

-- Sebastien Mosbah-Natanson * Revue d'histoire des sciences humaines *

"Heilbron paints a deep sharp picture that allows new insights into the complex genealogies and institutional contexts of French sociology. His recapitulation of about two centuries of () French social science impressively demonstrates the usefulness and necessity of a historiography that consciously starts off from national scientific traditions."

-- Wolfgang Knoebl * Soziopolis *

"With French Sociology Johan Heilbron - European sociologist if ever there is one - provides further evidence of his ability to use in his work on the history of sociology, not only the whole range of research techniques, but also the most demanding conceptual tools of the discipline he has taken as his object of study."

-- Marc Joly * Revue d'histoire des sciences humaines *

"Johan Heilbron's erudite history of French sociology is essential reading."

-- Jim Conley * Society *

"Heilbron's book is a well-documented journey of more than 150 years of French sociology. Having been able to dissect the main developments in a limited number of pages is an accomplishment. The choice not to limit the analysis to authors and their theories, but to consider dominant institutions, media of publication, fluctuations in student numbers as well as the overall context, offers an original perspective."

-- Christian Papilloud * Revue europeenne des sciences sociales *

"An empirically very rich and at the same time concise book."

-- Thijs van Dooremalen * Sociologie Magazine *

"For every historian of sociology this is an important, compulsory reference work."

-- Tommy Stoeckel * H-Soz-Kult *

"Vivid, innovative, and insightful.... Reading Heilbron's study affords an unusual degree of intellectual satisfaction."


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