Teaching Yourself Social Theory

Find my new book on the Sage website by clicking here, get details of price and contents -- and buy!!

The files that follow may not make much sense without reading my book. I try to explain the general issues in the book and then refer readers to these reading guides so they can pursue the arguments in more depth. Of course, if you have come to the website independently, you may be able to find your own way -- but read my book anyway (or buy it and promise to read it later)!

These files are NOT the originals, but are my 'reading guides' or 'notes'  is to let you gain easier access to some texts and provide you with a quick overview, so you can then see what you need to read for yourselves (hence the title) . Of course, the selections and discussions reflect my interests, but I have tried to summarize and paraphrase as accurately as possible too. Do go on and read the texts themselves (or the relevant sections of them for your purposes). Full bibliographic details are found in the files. 

This section is constantly being updated -- so check back often

But first, two introductory essays, to this collection and to my book

File #1 Why Are Social Theory Courses So Difficult?

File #2 Study Skills For Social Theory?

Now my notes or reading guides:

Adorno T
The Jargon of Authenticity
Negative Dialectics

Culture Industry Revisited

Free Time

(with Horkheimer M) Dialectic of Enlightenment
Contributions to the Positivist Dispute in German Sociology:
Sociology and Empirical Research
On the Logic of the Social Sciences

Althusser L

Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses... (and another piece on ideology, the chapter on Rousseau in  Althusser L (1972) Politics and History)
Essays in Self-Criticism (includes Reply to John Lewis)
On the Student Problem (main text for Ranciere's critique)

Atkinson J and Heritage J

Structures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis (Sacks on (ethno)methodology, Button and Casey on telephone conversations, Atkinson on applause-generating strategies in political speeches)(see also Heritage).

Badiou, A
Deleuze: The Clamor of Being

The ontology of multiplicity: the singleton of the void (one of his EGS videos)

Ontology of Multiplicity: omega as event’ (follow up to the above)
Introduction to the philosophical concept of change (EGS video)
The philosophical concept of change within politics (fragment -- about modern politics)

Ball S and Goodson I (eds)

Teachers' Lives and Careers (examples of educational micropolitics) (Riseborough, Beynon,Sikes, Measor)

Barthes R

Image-Music-Text (three key pieces on the death of the author, works and texts, and the new semiology).
S/Z (sporadic notes)

Baudrillard J
Simulations (I have done my best to turn this poetry back into prose...)

Beck U
Risk Society (very brief summary and some discussion)
(see also a recent  interview with Beck)

Becker H

Outsiders (the bits on labelling theory, moral entrepreneurs, replies to Gouldner etc).

Benhabib S

'Epistemologies of Postmodernism: a Rejoinder to J-F Lyotard'

Berger P and Luckmann T

The Social Construction of Reality

Blumer H

The methodological position of symbolic interactionism

Sociological Analysis and the 'Variable'

Society as Symbolic Interaction

Bourdieu P
'Making the economic habitus. Algerian workers revisited'

Outline of a Theory of Practice

'Postscript: Towards a "Vulgar" Critique of "Pure" Critiques'

''Understanding' (a 'methodological' piece from The Weight of the World...)

See also notes on the excellent essay by Loesberg
Bourdieu, Passeron and de Saint Martin Academic Discourse
'How Can One be a Sportsman' ( in Sociology in Question)
Bourdieu and Passeron 'The Inheritors...'
Bourdieu and Boltanski 'Formal Qualifications and Occupational Hierarchies...'

Bourdieu et al conference papers (early tryouts for Academic Discourse but more detail especially of the empirical studies)
Bourdieu and Passeron Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture

Bourdieu, P Homo Academicus

Bourdieu, P Pascalian Mediations

See also Bennett et al (a recent study of British tastes, applying and modifying Bourdieu)
Note some good critiques in DeCerteau and in Rancière
See my own essay on Bourdieu and Bennett, theory and methods here

Bottero W and Prandy K

'Interaction and social space: social distance measures of stratification'

Bowles S and Gintis H

Schooling in Capitalist America (and an important follow-up piece in 1980)

'Schooling in Capitalist America Revisited' (Jan.2002 re-examination of the evidence)

‘Becoming Woman: or Sexual Difference Revisited

Butler J
'Gender Trouble,Feminist Theory and Psychoanalytic Discourse'

'Gender is Burning...' (on drag and its ambivalences, in the film Paris is Burning)
‘Against Proper Objects. Introduction’ (a fascinating but complex early review of different positions in feminist, lesbian and gay and queer theories. Asides on effects of academic politics).

CCCS (and alumni)
The Empire Strikes Back: race and racism in the 1970s
Education Group II (on vocationalism and Thatcherism etc)

Clarke, J. and Critcher, C

The Devil Makes Work...

Clough P

The End(s) of Ethnography: from Realism to Social Criticism

Cooley, C
'Looking-Glass Self'

Coward R

Class, Culture and the Social Formation (early critique of Hall et al on the media -- see below)

Davis K and Moore R

'Some Principles of Stratification' (classic functionalist account of social stratification)

DeCerteau M
The Practice of Everyday Life
(see also Anteby's study of 'poaching')

Deleuze (and Guattari,and Parnet)
Menu page with further links, including notes on commentaries by Baudrillard, DeLanda, Zizek

Denzin N
'The Research Act' (a useful argument about the methods of symbolic interactionism)

Derrida J
Specters of Marx (pretty brief)

Dews P
Habermas: Autonomy and Solidarity (Intro, covers debates with Lyotard and subsequent modifications)

Downes D and Rock P
Deviant Interpretations... (Downes and Cohen criticise marxist criminology. For Plummer's contribution to debates on labelling theory, click here)

Dunning E (alone and with others)
‘Spectator Violence at Football Matches: towards a sociological explanation' (a figurational approach)

'Sociological Reflections on Sport, Violence and Civilization' (applies Elias)

'Sport as a Drug and Drugs in Sport'

Durkheim E
The Rules of Sociological Method

Moral Education

Elson D (ed)
Two different readings of Marx's theory of value (Banaji -- Hegelian reading, Husain -- Althusserian reading)

Ettinger, B (notes from her EGS videos)
2012 ‘Maternal Subjectivity and the Matrixial Subject'

Fisher B and Strauss A
Interactionism (brief history of US interactionism from Thomas and Park to Becker and Goffman)

Fraser N
Unruly Practices (feminist critiques of Foucault, Habermas, Derrida)

Foucault M
Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison

The Archaeology of Knowledge
History of Sexuality
What is an Author?

See also Kendall and Wickham on Foucault's methods
See also Deleuze on Foucault

'Critical and Philosophical Hermeneutics'

Garfinkel H
'Common-Sense Knowledge of Social Structures...'

'Passing and the managed achievement of sex status in an intersexed person' (a.k.a. the Agnes study)

Gellner E
Words and Things (the key chapter on Linguistic Philosophy and Sociology)

Giddens A
Central Problems... (basics on 'structuration' versus structuralism and marxism)

Critiques of Habermas (from Profiles and Critiques...)

'Functionalism: Après la lutte' [after the struggle]

Modernity and Self-Identity...

The Consequences of Modernity (pretty brief and schematic notes)

Giddens on Modernity (a review symposium with contributions from Giddens, Beck, Robertson, Swanson and Turner)

Goffman E
Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity

Goldthorpe, J., Llewellyn, C and Payne, C.
Social Mobility and Class Structure in Modern Britain (main data, together with the Halsey companion volume). See also some recent debates

Gouldner A
The Coming Crisis in Western Sociology (only the bits criticising Goffman, Becker and Garfinkel)

Habermas J
The Analytical Theory of Science and Dialectic -- a Postscript to the Popper/Adorno Controversy
A Positivistically-Bisected Rationalism (another contribution to the Positivist Dispute)

A Postscript to Knowledge and Human Interests

Legitimation Crisis

Theory of Communicative Action (McCarthy's Intro)

'The French Path to Postmodernity...' (but ostensibly about Bataille)

Hall S (sometimes with others)
Culture, Media and 'The Ideology Effect' (summary with comments and links to similar discussions)

Early work on news

'The treatment of "football hooliganism" in the press'

Policing the Crisis

Recent Developments in Theories of Language and Ideology... (Hall on Coward and 'Screen Theory')

Resistance Through Rituals...

The Whites of Their Eyes: racist ideologies and the media

'The Political and The Economic in Marx's Theory of Classes'(see also Hirst)
(see the critical essay by Wood on Stuart Hall and hegemony)

Halsey A, Heath A, and Ridge J
Origins and Destinations (see also the material based on the Goldthorpe companion volume and the controversies since)

Hegel G (actually via Taylor C)

Heritage, J

Hindess B
Philosophy and Methodolgy in the Social Sciences (Intro and the key chapter)

'The Politics of Social Mobility' (nice critique of the Oxford Mobility Study)

Hirst P
'Economic Classes and Politics' (a deadly, close critical reading of Althusser, Poulantzas -- and the gramscians)

Honneth A
'An Aversion Against the Universal...' (an excellent critique of Lyotard)

hooks b
The Oppositional Gaze: black female spectators


An Enquiry Into Human Understanding (brief notes only on sceptitcism anti-religion etc)

Humm S (Ed)
Feminisms : A Reader

Husserl E
Cartesian Meditations

Joas H
Symbolic Interactionism (an excellent critical essay on the Chicago School)

Kuhn T
The Essential Tension (on the development of science, includes 'Second Thought on Paradigms'), and see the critical essay on Kuhn's irrationalism here

Levi-Strauss, C
'Structural Analysis in Linguistics and in Anthropology'

Lockwood, D

Solidarity and Schism.. (the bits on Durkheim and functionalism, mostly)

Lukes S

Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work (a rather odd selection of notes on 'applied' themes)

Lyotard J-F

The Post-Modern Condition... (includes Foreword by Jameson and Lyotard's 'Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism')

MacCabe C
Realism and the Cinema: Notes on Some Brechtian Theses (and some material on MacCabe's contribution to the debate about the marxist TV series Days of Hope, and a critique by Williams)

Maccannell, D
The Tourist...

Manis J and Meltzer B
Symbolic Interaction: A Reader in Social Psychology

Marcuse H

Negations (chapters on existentialism, liberalism and Weber)

Marx K

On commodity fetishism

On surplus value (DH handout -- very brief)

Critiques and debates on method (DH handout)

Revenue and Its Sources

The So-Called Primitive Accumulation (marvellous account of the real history of capitalism -- and a good intro to Marx)

Matza D

Delinquency and Drift ( Early attempt to insist delinquents are normal people who have drifted into it) (and see Sykes and Matza)

Mennell S

All Manners of Food (good example of figurational analysis) 

Norbert Elias: an Introduction

Mill JS (actually via Alan Ryan)


Mulvey L

Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' (and the follow-ups 'Afterthoughts on "Visual Pleasure"...' and  'Changes')

Murphy R

'Weberian Closure Theory'

Palmer R

Hermeneutics (rather brief and chatty, with some general criticisms)

Pakulski J and Waters M

'The reshaping and dissolution of social class in advanced societies'

Poulantzas N

Classes in Contemporary Capitalism
State Power Socialism
(and see also the exchanges with Miliband and Laclau on the nature of the State -- here)

Ramazanoglou C (ed)

Up Against Foucault (Grimshaw, Cain, Bailey, MacCannell and MacCannell)

Rancière, J
(see Rancière page)

Rocher G

Talcott Parsons and American Sociology (Intro and two chapters)

Rojek C
'Problems of involvement and detachment in the writings of Norbert Elias'

Schutz A

Phenomenology of the Social World (chs 3,4,5)

Screen Special on 'Difference'

Useful critical discussions of Lacanian approaches (Merck, Williamson, Greig, Stacey)

Sivanandan A

Communities of Resistance...  (chapter on the flaws of 'New Times' approaches)

Sloterdijk P
Cynicism as false consciousness

Sykes, G and Matza, D
Techniques of Neutralisation... (famous account of delinquency to rival subcultural theory)

Taylor I, Walton P and Young J (and others)

The New Criminology (opening statement - marxist critiques of existing approaches in criminology)
'Values in deviancy theory and society' (useful early article criticising positivists and interactionists re the fact/value distinction)

Critical Criminology (middle piece -- marxist critiques extended)

Capitalism and the Rule of Law (final stage - marxist objects identified -- critique of the State)

Turner B

For Weber... (only three chapters summarised, on relations with neomarxism, and on theodicy)
Turner and Edmonds on the post-war Australian elite and their leisure pursuits

van Krieken R

'The barbarism of civilization: cultural genocide and the "stolen generations"' (on Elias)
'The organisation of the soul: Elias and Foucault on discipline and the self''

Westoby A (ed)

Culture and Power in Educational Organisations (Weick, Ouchi and Wilkins, Meyer and Rowan, Bachrach. On micropolitics, and with nice critical counters to much management theory)

Willis P

Common Culture

Learning to Labour...

Notes on Method

Profane Cultures (very brief)

School Production and Theories of Reproduction (important amendments to Learning to Labour)

Winch P

The Idea of a Social Science...

Women's Study Group

Women Take Issue... (excellent feminist critiques and extensions of CCCS approaches)

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