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best recent european sociology?

Question: What do you think is the best recent sociology from Europe these days? Most of my readings are from sociologists based on this side of the Atlantic. I read Boltanski and Thevenot. Enjoyed it, but didn’t blow me away. What else is out there?

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Written by fabiorojas

October 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Posted in fabio, sociology

12 Responses

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  1. Enjoyed it, but didn’t blow me away.

    Then Michel Foucault punched me in the mouth.

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    Kieran

    October 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  2. Fabio, I’d be curious what you (or others here) thought of some of more radical political theorists, such as Alain Badiou, Jacques Ranciere, Giorgio Agamben, etc. For an introduction from a sociological perspective, a couple recent articles in Thesis Eleven might be a decent starting point, see here and here….

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    Robert Couch

    October 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

  3. @Robert Couch: I’m less interested in political theory, and more interested in work oriented in an empirical vein. New European theorists come out on a schedule, but what empirical insights have emerged from European sociology?

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    fabiorojas

    October 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

  4. A few from Oxford that are definitely worth a read:

    Diego Gambetta. 2009. Codes of the Underworld. Princeton U Press
    Peter Hedström. 2005. Dissecting the Social. Cambridge U Press (and, if you haven’t taken a look at it, The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology, OUP 2009)
    Several papers by Tak Wing Chan and John Goldthorpe on cultural consumption and stratification (AJS 2007, ASR 2007)

    Also, people at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne are generally quite good, notably Jens Beckert (see, for instance, Beckert 2008. Inherited Wealth. Princeton U Press)

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    Max Hell

    October 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm

  5. I am not a great fan of Boltanski and Thevenot; and “The new spirit of Capitalism” (Boltanski and Chiapello, 1999) is more an historical book than a sociological one now (even though concepts are still really accurate): but I deeply recommend “On Critique” (Boltanski alone, 2009). For me the best work ever read on the concept of institution.
    Of course Foucault: Birth of Bio-Politics specially (but it is philosophy and it is not really contemporary – but it goes really well with Boltanski).
    And I guess you now Latour and the sociology of translation already, but there is also Callon, with now Muniesa, Lascoumes, Le Galès, etc. who do interesting work within the sociology of innovation school, mainly on the evolution of states through technics. I really liked “Acting in a uncertain world: an essay on technical democracy”.

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    nathalielallemand

    October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  6. I’d recommend Louis Chauvel (EHESS/Sciences Po), Claude Rosental (Sciences Po), Stephen Mennel (Dublin), Jonathan White (LSE), Jens Rydgren (Stockhom), and Sven Steinmo (EUI). An eclectic list to be sure… but I think most of them are under-appreciated on this side of the pond.

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    Chris Bail

    October 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm

  7. Kroneberg, Clemens, 2011: Die Erklärung sozialen Handelns. Grundlagen und Anwendung einer integrativen Theorie.

    Formalized synthesis of rational choice and social psychological approaches (frame selection et cetera) to action theory. Unfortunately, there is no translation yet (although there should be some english articles by Kroneberg regarding this topic).

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    FCH

    October 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm

  8. In Germany: Axel Honneth and Hans Joas

    In Italy: Alberto Melucci

    In France: Alain Caille, Bernard Lahire and Francois Dubet

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    Guillermo

    October 18, 2011 at 1:51 am

  9. Question: What do you think is the best recent sociology from the US these days? Most of my readings are from sociologists based on this side of the Atlantic. I read Jeffrey Alexander and Michael Burawoy. Enjoyed it, but didn’t blow me away. What else is out there?

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    Molonpol

    October 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

  10. There are a number of good sociologists – e.g. Van Tubergen, Buskens, Snjiders, Flache, Linderberg, among others – who belong to the ICS, a graduate school in sociology based in the Netherlands. The ICS is in fact a rare case of a true “research school,” meaning that something like a Lakatosian research program is collectively developed by its members and passed on across generations of graduate students. The latter include people like Matthijs Kalmijn, currently at U. of Tilburg, and Herman van de Werfhorst at The U. of Amsterdam. All the abovementioned people do high-quality sociological research and collectively they may contribute to the advancement of sociology more than schools where individual researchers do their own act alone. It’s basically rational choice sociology, akin to Coleman’s, with a lot of emphasis on social networks. Whether it will blow you away I do not know, but in my view it certainly falls within that share of contemporary sociology – European or American – that is worth reading.

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    Gianluca

    October 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

  11. I think Boltanski/Chiapello’s “the new spirit of capitalism” is a great book in every way. It comes up with an inventive theoretical framework (a synthesis of Weber and Hirschman) that allows to integrate and reflect a wide range of data. It’s a long book but easy and interesting to read. I wouldn’t call it a historical book since it makes a well-grounded, differentiated statement about today’s society (in contrast to the wide-spread “neoliberalism-bashing” in gouvernementality studies, cultural studies, critical theory (including Honneth and his scholars), political philosophy etc.).
    … if you like Latour, of course you won’t like Boltanski’s reasonable criticism on Latour’s work.

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    Tads

    October 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

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