The Sociologist’s Eye

Reflections on Social Life

Kai Erikson

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A masterful introduction to and appreciation of sociology as a window into our world

The culmination of a distinguished career, this fascinating exploration into the nature of human social life describes the field of sociology as a way of looking at the world rather than as a simple gathering of facts about it. Kai Erikson notes that sociologists look out at the same human scenes as poets, historians, economists, or any other observers of the vast social landscape spread out before them, but select different aspects of that vast panorama to focus on and attend to. Erikson’s lively and accessible volume considers how sociology became a field of study, and how it has turned its attention over time to new areas of study such as race and gender and what Erikson calls “social speciation.” This book provides readers with new ways of thinking about human culture and social life—an exhilarating sense of what the world looks like when viewed with a sociologist’s eye.

Kai Erikson is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of Sociology and American Studies, Yale University. He is former President of the American Sociological Association, and has twice won the ASA award for writing the best book published in the year preceding.

"An Erikson classic. This remarkably ambitious book by one of sociology's very best practitioners is a unique intellectual invitation into the sociological imagination. It is a marvelous way to be inducted into thinking sociologically."—Eviatar Zerubavel, author of Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology

“With rich detail, intellectual deft, and an extraordinary gift for storytelling, Erikson delivers a tour de force. It is stimulating, eloquent, comprehensive, yet accessible. A must read for every young scholar.”—Cecilia Menjívar, University of Kansas

"Expertly executed and highly engaging, The Sociologist's Eye renders the complex history of our discipline more clearly and elegantly than any other book of its kind."—Jennifer Johnson, Kenyon College

"The Sociologist's Eye is an immediate classic in the company of Berger and Mills; Erikson’s elegant analysis within the framework of perspectives, places, and processes will captivate generations to come."—Diane L. Pike, Augsburg College 

"This is a book like no other. Read one way it is the most elegant of introductions to our field. Read another way it is an intellectual memoir by one of American sociology's most respected scholars and leaders. And read in still another way it is a book that seasoned sociologists and other social scientists of all kinds will read to freshen a sense of what our work can be."—Charles Lemert, author of Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life

"Erikson draws the reader in, revealing how social scientists view the world via unexpected description and persuasive explanation.  Even for an old hand like me, there were things I learned for the first time.  Bottom line: a great book."—Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

"Erikson is a master of two sociological arts, gracefully guiding his readers through a global landscape to help us understand human beings and the myriad ways we live together. A beautiful book."—Daniel F. Chambliss, Hamilton College

"More than a text for students, this is an overview of what sociology has to teach anyone. It is a joy to see good ideas and critical findings come alive in Erikson's uniquely masterful renditions."—Harvey Molotch, New York University

“With rich detail, intellectual deft, and an extraordinary gift for storytelling, Erikson delivers a tour de force. It is stimulating, eloquent, comprehensive, yet accessible. A must read for every young scholar.”—Elliott West, University of Arkansas

“A man who has devoted his life to studying society delivers a final report on everything he has learned . . . [Erikson] proves to be a wise guide to a broad field of study. A useful, illuminating analysis.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The accumulated wisdom of an eminent scholar . . . an engaging read . . . a valuable contribution to, as well as a meta-analysis of, sociology.”—R. P. Lorenzo, Choice

“Rendered in precise, elegant prose . . . Unusually thoughtful, precise, and occasionally profound.”—Howard S. Becker, Contemporary Sociology
ISBN: 9780300106671
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
432 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4