Emergence through convergence

Introductory Essay: This Deserted Island is Out of Order The classic novel The Lord of the Flies helps us see that social order is both a product of our own making and something much more powerful than the sum of its parts. We move from the social facts of Durkheim to more contemporary takes on the enigma of social order.

Watts, Duncan J. 2004. Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. New York: W. W. Norton.

An explanation of network theory, a cutting-edge science of social order, by one of its most prominent proponents.

Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books.

A leading sociologist of technology explores technology’s effects on contemporary social order, especially the quality of human relationships.

Smith, Christian. 2003. Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Smith argues that humans are fundamentally moral and believing animals, providing a nuanced take on social constructionism and a rethinking of Durkheim’s view of the sacred and the social order.

Sherif, Muzafer, O. J. Harvey, William R. Hood, Carolyn W. Sherif, and Jack White. 1961. The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma.

This “true life” Lord of the Flies describes a classic experiment by social psychologist Muzafer Sherif in which 24 twelve-year-old boys experience in-group solidarity and out-group hostility on a campground in an Oklahoma state park.

Meyrowitz, Joshua. 1986. No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press.

Meyrowitz examines the effect electronic media, most notably television, have had on not only how we interact with one another, but also what we know of each other and how we experience reality itself

Merton, Robert. 1957. Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press.

Merton’s classic outlines the foundations for a functionalist sociology. Includes his classic work on manifest and latent functions, an excellent companion to the work of Parsons and Shils.

Latour, Bruno. 2007. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Inspired by fieldwork in scientific laboratories and ethnomethodological insights, a prominent social theorist introduces readers to Actor-Network-Theory, a novel approach that argues non-humans are just as integral a part of making social order as humans.

Hacking, Ian. 1999. The Social Construction of What? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

In the decades since Berger and Luckmann’s famous treatise, the paradigm of social constructionism has exploded into a veritable theoretical industry. In this very smart and useful book, the philosopher Ian Hacking tells us that to sort out what social construction actually means as a theoretical paradigm, we need to think more critically about what exactly, people are arguing is being constructed. A critical but even-handed guide to social constructionism as it is used today.

Douglas, Mary. 1996 [1970]. Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology. London: Routledge.

This foundational work by cultural theorist and anthropologist Mary Douglas introduces her ideas on “group” commitments and “grid” regulations. Consider pairing her chapter, “Away from Ritual,” with Durkheim’s Elementary Forms.

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