Confronting Gouldner

Sociology and Political Activism


Alvin W. Gouldner (1920-1980) was a leading sociologist of his era who provided groundbreaking analyses in the areas of industrial sociology, critical sociological theory, ideology, reciprocity, and class analysis. Even as a self-avowed radical sociologist, Gouldner was unable to maintain allegiance to any particular theorist or theoretical school, for doing so could lead to theory becoming blind partisanship leading to unreflective and sometimes destructive practices (e.g., the problem of the communist dictator). In Confronting Gouldner James J. Chriss confronts the larger issue of the place of critical theory, and specifically Marxism, in framing the perspective of sociology as political activism. Through this confrontation with Gouldner, the author explores the implications of critical theory as it relates to social justice, marriage and family, religion, political activism, public sociology, and deviance and crime.
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Biographical Note

James J. Chriss, Ph.D. (1994), University of Pennsylvania, is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Cleveland State University. His most recent books are Beyond Community Policing (Paradigm, 2013) and Social Control: An Introduction 2nd ed. (Polity, 2013).

Table of contents

Foreword by Richard Lee Deaton The Two Masks of Alvin Ward Gouldner: Angry Outsider and Intellectual Street Fighter – Reflections of an Undutiful Son Acknowledgments 1. The Classics and Beyond 2. Intellectuals and Radical Sociology 3. Crime and Deviance 4. Bourdieu and Reflexive Sociology 5. Radical Politics and Soviet Sociology 6. Religion and Critical Theory 7. Social Justice, Politics, and Religion 8. Locals, Cosmopolitans, and the Politics of a Global Humanity 9. Mao and the Communist Horizon References Index


Primary readership includes those interested in sociological theory, critical theory, communism, Marxism, political activism, and public sociology.