Required Reading: Sociology's Most Influential Books
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When the editors of Contemporary Sociology selected the ten most influential books of the past twenty-five years and published new essays on their importance, the feature sparked enthusiasm, debate, and controversy. This volume responds to and extends that discussion by expanding the list to seventeen books, incorporating a piece on the bestsellers of sociology, and adding four essays on the "most influential" controversy itself. Although the list centers on sociology, only half of the books were written by sociologists.
The charge to the reviewers was not to make a case for a book, but rather to analyze the character and extent of its influence. Because these works are already recognized as milestones in their fields, and because the reviewers are prominent figures who themselves often played central roles in the dramas surrounding these titles, the reviews are as noteworthy for their critical edge as for their celebration of the books' contributions. The result is a thought-provoking volume that engages many of the key intellectual issues of our time.
Bourdieu on a decontextualized list, however, means that Bourdieu or, perhaps more precisely, Outline of a Theory of Practice will become an object of veneration, read and cited less for its contributions to an understanding of the social world than as an object of ritualistic veneration. This process will fetishize the texts. As Jeff Goodwin points out in his essay on Skocpol's States and Social Revolutions, references to a canonical text do not mean that it has been read. Goodwin suggests that
extent therefore his work does not provide a model for other anthropologists or sociologists of lesser talent to follow, since he proceeds from an intuitive grasp of what is important and reaches his conclusion with a flourish that conceals the tedium of the procedures. Well before The Interpretation of Cultures (hereafter, TIC) was published, Clifford Geertz had already changed the way we study culture. Indeed, the heart of TIC is a collection of beautiful essays, published between 1957 and the
likely partners are to divorce. This is because ''marriage-specific" investments increase the value of the current partner relative to a new partner. Investments are "marriage-specific" to the extent they produce benefits reaped only if one stays in the current marriage. Examples of marriage-specific investments are learning to deal with and possibly even enjoy a partner's idiosyncrasies, or bearing and rearing children. Becker recognizes that women who make the marriage-specific investments of
world system and managed hearts. How do we dare to claim that these seventeen books are required reading? They are required in the specific sense that they are necessary to understand the concepts and preoccupations of a significant proportion of the discipline's practitioners. Influential Books In the course of making the case for including the SPSS manual among the most influential books in sociology, Barry Wellman asks whether it is the findings themselves or the tools that enable us to make
so, several significant steps have been made toward reconciling these two extreme positions. In an important essay, "Bringing the Men Back In" (1988), Barbara Reskin made a compelling case that sexist men in organizations use their power intentionally to constrain opportunities for women. This paper, and her subsequent work with Patricia Roos (1990), emphasize the linkages between men's agency and social structure in the reproduction of gender inequality in organizations. Joan Acker (1990) also