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Anthony Giddens

Anthony Giddens (1938–), director of the London School of Economics from 1997–2003, names globalization and information technology as two of the key issues facing sociologists at the turn of the twenty-first century. He adds that a lessening of tradition in our everyday lives is a third important and consequential change that should interest sociologists (Giddens, “An Interview”).

Giddens’s early publications were largely based on his reinterpretation of “classical” European sociologists (Clark 1990, 21; Poggi 1990). He credits Max Weber, one of sociology’s “founding fathers,” with having the most “pervasive and enduring” impact on the nature of sociology today (Giddens, “An Interview”). When asked why he thinks people should study sociology, Giddens says, “Sociology is a genuinely enlightening subject.

Most people who study sociology are changed by the experience. The reason is that sociology offers a different perspective on the world from that which most people have when they start out in the subject. Sociology helps us look beyond the immediate contexts of our lives and so helps us understand the causes of our own actions better. Sociology also can help us change the world for the better” (“An Interview”).

Giddens’s own theoretical work is largely a theory of “structuration.” It aims to “provide a conceptual framework for analyzing how human beings make their own history, how society is produced, reproduced and changed (or, in his own shorthand, how it is ‘constituted’)” (Clark 1990, 23). A prolific writer, Giddens has authored more than 30 books and over 200 articles and reviews. His books have been translated into 30 languages. Giddens himself is the subject of a dozen more books and recipient of 15 honorary degrees and awards. As 1999 BBC Reith Lecturer, his lectures were published as Runaway World: How Globalization Is Reshaping Our Lives (2000).

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KATHY S. STOLLEY
(The Basics of Sociology) - ISBN 0-313-32387-9

 

 
 
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