Sociology has long lacked the sense of propulsive direction that it possesses in the 1960s and early 70s. The subject has fragmented in a series of interlocking fields and sub-disciplines. Is there a way of revitalizing the subject? Where can we look for guides to build a sociology that combats fragmentation, constantly unites the micro with the macro level, and provides a holistic view of society?
This book argues that the sociology of Georg Simmel is a most promising resource to accomplish these ends. Although Simmel was rediscovered in the 1980s his potential for the design of the subject as a whole and the professional necessities for 'doing good sociology' were not fully realized. Simmel's inspiration for the analysis of money, the mass media and the state showed how sociologists might approach, in an emancipatory perspective, subjective behaviour that arises from social forces that appear to be arbitrary and impenetrable.
Written with a clear eye upon both the needs of contemporary sociologist's and international dilemmas facing the world today, Pietila's book is intended to make a professional and civic contribution. This is a compassionate and stimulating book that will help readers to make sense of their worlds and the worlds of others.
Kauko Pietila is Special Researcher, Institute for Social Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland
PART I: THE PROBLEM Chapter 1: The Rise, Fall and Return of a Concept Chapter 2: Fundamental Concepts - Society and Community Chapter 3: Roles for Sociology in Society PART II: THE THEORY Chapter 4: Societal Sociology - Walking the Tight-Rope Chapter 5: Simmel and War Chapter 6: Simmel and the Modern Condition Chapter 7: Towards a Wider Concept of Interaction PART III: APPLICATIONS Chapter 8: Money Chapter 9: Mass Media Chapter 10: The State Conclusion