The (CatNet) Soc. Rel. 10 notes are finally (officially) published

In the social sciences, there’s is a group of student-taken lecture notes that have achieved well-deserved legendary status. The granddaddy of them all are of course the notes that became Ferdinand de Saussure’s Cours de Linguistique Générale, and there are the notes from George Herbert Mead’s famed Chicago seminar that became Mind, Self and Society. Let us not forget the almost mythical student notes taken in Alexandre Kojève‘s course on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind, which inspired characters ranging (in the knowledge-political spectrum) from Leo Strauss to Georges Bataille.

Yet, in contemporary American sociology, there are no set of student-taken notes that have had as much underground influence as those from Harrison White’s introductory Soc Rel 10 seminar at Harvard. To go through the group students that were first exposed to network thinking in that seminar would take you through a virtual who’s who of influential persons in sociology (including Peter Bearman, Ron Breiger, Mark Granovetter, Barry Wellman, etc.). This is without counting the slew of then young faculty (such as the recently departed Charles Tilly or Paul DiMaggio), who’s early thinking was influenced by White at this stage.

Without danger of exaggeration it can be said that an entire generation of some of the most influential researchers and thinkers in sociology today were directly influenced by the ideas and concepts introduced in this seminar (it is somewhat ironic that a perspective that would do the most to move sociology beyond the functionalist emphasis on internalized norms and values was developed right under the nose of Parsons himself). These notes, taken by Michael Schwartz in the Spring of ’65, have lived an underground life for a while now, appearing in unofficial forms in a variety of places (i.e. the INSNA website).

Well, thanks to Marco Santoro and the kind folks at Sociologica (which is quickly becoming a must read for most of us) they finally have seen the official light of day in the latest issue of the journal. Marco has a nice introduction setting the notes in their intellectual and cultural context, and Harrison White follows with a brief preface. Readers of White, will of course recognize many of the ideas developed in Identity and Control already in germinal form 43 years ago. There’s also a short postcript by the note-taker himself.

Enjoy your flashback!

(P.S.: Don’t pay attention to the loudmouth arguing with John Goldthorpe about cultural capital in the commentary section).

Written by Omar

June 3, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Posted in networks, omar, sociology

13 Responses

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  1. Wow, what a fantastic issue! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.



    June 3, 2008 at 9:06 pm

  2. Thanks!



    June 3, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  3. Is that the same Michael Schwartz that’s now at SUNY Stonybrook?



    June 4, 2008 at 1:26 am

  4. Hi Question. Yep, that’s him. There’s a short biographical note at the end of each article (on the pdf version that is).



    June 4, 2008 at 2:21 am

  5. Great! I had it in PDF for a while, and this is much better.

    Question: What if soc departments had 2 tracks for undergrads? Track A – regular intro soc and Track B – honors soc using White’s notes. Worth thinking about!



    June 4, 2008 at 3:19 am

  6. The PDF I’ve seen has a lot more stuff in it.



    June 4, 2008 at 12:38 pm

  7. Is the pdf then available online somewhere?



    June 4, 2008 at 1:18 pm

  8. Kieran, what’s in the PDF is (i believe in its entirety – at least the version i’ve seen) in the 2nd edition of Calhoun et al’s theory reader from Blackwell (link here).



    June 4, 2008 at 1:46 pm

  9. Hmm, I have a different one then. Rougher notes, covering several weeks of the course, including stuff on Lorenz curves, mobility tables, the rudiments of blockmodeling, and other things. But still by Schwartz.



    June 4, 2008 at 4:25 pm

  10. I see, upon further rummaging, that I also have a memo from 1966 on coupling & decoupling. But not this catnet discussion.



    June 4, 2008 at 4:54 pm

  11. […] to where harrison white started Posted in uncategorized by brayden on June 5th, 2008 The publication of Harrison White’s notes in Sociologica is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in […]


  12. […] “Notes on the Constituents of Social Structure” (1965), which we’ve been talking about this week. Either-or intensities and infinitely sharp criteria of membership have been […]


  13. […] basic programmatic theses were written (For a nice discussion of this see Santoro 2008, and this post and this […]


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