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Sociology Key Theorists

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Sociology 100 – Key theorists

Bauman, Zygmunt (1925– )
A Polish-born sociologist who was expelled by the Communist government of Poland and dismissed from Warsaw University. He left Poland in 1968, working in Israel (and briefly in Australia) and then in Britain, at Leeds University. Bauman is a prolific and highly influential writer whose work extends beyond academic sociology. His study of contemporary ‘liquid’ society and postmodernity, and the ethical and moral consequences of living in such a society, have made him one of the most influential social theorists of modern times.

Liquid society – postmodernity, ethics and moral consequences.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1930–2002)
A French sociologist and anthropologist whose work attempted to deal with how people contribute to their own domination. Developing the concepts of ‘habitus’, ‘cultural capital’, and ‘field’, Bourdieu examined processes of subordination and resistance in a number of areas of social life, including education, art, literature, language, television, and the globalised economy. Bourdieu’s most famous book is Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (1984).

Globalised economy, subordination and resistance in social life. ‘Culture capital’

Burke, Edmund (1729–97)
An English politician and writer, often seen as the father of modern conservatism for his hostile reaction to the chaos and violence of the French Revolution. For many, his defence of tradition and individual liberty is still highly relevant to today’s world.

Father of modern conservatism

Durkheim, Emile (1858–1917)
A French sociologist who argued that sociology should see social phenomena as ‘social facts’ that cannot be reduced to biological or psychological explanation. Such social facts endure over time—while particular individuals die and are replaced by others—and they have a coercive power that…...

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