100 most important sociological books of the 20th century

According to ISA – International Sociological Association the top 100 most important and influential books are listed below.

In 1998 at the ISA World Congress of Sociology held in Montreal, Canada the Programme Committee had carried out a survey among its members in order to identify ten most influential books for sociologists. ISA members were asked to list five books published in the twentieth century which were most influential in their work as sociologists. 16% of ISA members (455 out of 2785) participated in the survey. This is the collected results of the survey.

1. Max Weber Economy and Society

The absolute number one according to ISA members. Twenty pro cent ranked it among the top ten books. Key concepts are modern bureaucracy, charismatic authority, modern Capitalism, and goal-rational social action. The overall thesis of this two volume work concerns the de-mystification and rationalization of our world, the famous iron cage thesis.

2. Charles Wright Mills Sociological Imagination

In a normative account Mills describes the need for what he calls the sociological imagination. Without it we are unable to understand the society in which we live. We are also unable to understand ourself and our place and role within society.

3. Robert K. Merton Social Theory and Social Structure

In a critique and revision of the sociological functionalist theory of Talcott Parsons Robert K. Merton sought to pave the way for a less abstract set of theories which he termed "theories of the middle range". He tried to construct a paradigm that would act as a guide for fruitful functional analysis.

4. Max Weber The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
In this seminal work Weber argues that the changing of values amongst certain protestant groupings especially Calvinists leads to a certain behavior that can be characterized as capitalist. The values of capitalism can be found in Benjamin Franklins pamphlet Advise to a Young Tradesman according to Weber.

5. Peter L. Berger & Thomas Luckmann The Social Construction of Reality

The social reality is a social construct. Society is a human product but it also has a objective reality in itself. Berger and Luckmann tries to formulate their sociology as a sociology of knowledge. We must try to understand the processes whereby knowledge is created, transferred and ultimately underpins our conception of reality.

The other candidates are:

6. Bourdieu, Pierre Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

7. Elias, Norbert The Civilizing Process

8. Habermas, Jürgen The Theory of Communicative Action

9. Parsons, Talcott Structure of Social Action

10.Goffman, Erving The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

11. Mead, George Herbert Mind, Self and Society

12. Parsons, Talcott The Social System

13. Durkheim, Emile The Elementary Forms of Religious Life

14. Giddens, Anthony The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration

15. Wallerstein, Immanuel The Modern World-System

16. Foucault, Michel Discipline and Punish : the Birth of the Prison

17. Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

18. Simmel, Georg Sociology: Inquiries into the Construction of Social Forms

19. Beck, Ulrich Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity

20. Braverman, Harry Labor and Monopoly Capitalism: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century

21. Adorno, Theodor W. and Horkheimer, Max Dialectic of Enlightenment

22. Gramsci, Antonio Prison Notebooks

23. Coleman, James Samuel Foundations of Social Theory

24. Habermas, Jürgen Knowledge and Human Interests

25. Moore, B. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

26. Polanyi, Karl The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

27. Blau, Peter Michael and Duncan, Otis Dudley The American Occupational Structure

28. Gouldner, Alvin W. Coming Crisis of Western Sociology

29. Luhmann, Niklas Social Systems

30. Mannheim, Karl Ideology and Utopia

31. Becker, Howard S. Outsiders: Studies in Sociology of Deviance

32. Marx, Karl Capital: Critique of Political Economy

33. Olson, Mancur The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups

34. Durkheim, Emile The Division of Labor in Society

35. Durkheim, Emile The Rules of Sociological Methods

36. Garfinkel, Harold Studies in Ethnomethodology

37. Goffman, Erving Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates

38. Lipset, Seymour Martin Political Man

39. Mills, Charles Wright The Power Elite

40. Bourdieu, Pierre The Logic of Practice

41. Cardoso, Fernando Henrique and, Faletto, Enzo Dependency and Development in Latin America  

42. Dahrendorf, R. Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society

43. Giddens, Anthony The Consequences of Modernity

44. Goffman, Erving Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity

45. Kanter, R.M. Men and Women of the Corporation

46. Schütz, Alfred Phenomenology of the Social World

47. Berger, Peter L. Invitation to Sociology

48. Bourdieu, Pierre and Passeron, Jean-Claude Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture

49. Etzioni, Amitai Active Society: A Theory of Societal and Political Processes

50. Glaser, Barney G. and Strauss, Anselm L. Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research

51. Habermas, J. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society

52. Sorokin, Pitirim A. Social and Cultural Dynamics

53. Touraine, A. Production de la Societe

54. Weber, Max The Sociology of Religion

55. Weber, Max The Methodology of the Social Sciences

56. Arendt, Hannah The Origins of Totalitarianism

57. Boudon, Raymond Logic of Social Action: An Introduction to Sociological Analysis

58. Braudel, Fernand Civilization and Capitalism

59. Durkheim, Emile On Suicide: A Study in Sociology

60. Geertz, Clifford The Interpretation of Cultures

61. Giddens, Anthony Sociology

62. Janowitz, Morris Professional Soldier

63. Lazarsfeld, Paul Felix and Rosenberg, Morris The Language of Social Research

64. Lukács, Georg History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics

65. Mies, Maria Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour

66. Nisbet, Robert A. The Sociological Tradition

67. Palmer Thompson, Eric The Making of the English Working Class

68. Riesman, David The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character

69. Schütz, Alfred Collected Papers

70. Simmel, Georg The Philosophy of Money

71. Whyte, William Foote Street Corner Society: Social Structure of an Italian Slum

72. Alexander, Jeffrey C. Theoretical Logic in Sociology

73. Althusser, L. Reading Capital

74. Anderson, Benedict Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

75. Arendt, Hannah The Human Condition

76. Baumann, Zygmunt Postmodern Ethics

77. Beauvoir, Simone de The Second Sex

78. Benedict, Ruth Patterns of Culture

79. Blumer, Herbert Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method
80. Boudon, Raymond The Unintended Consequences of Social Action

81. Bourdieu, Pierre Outline of a Theory of Practice

82. Castells, Manuel Urban Question: A Marxist Approach

83. Crozier, Michel J. The Bureaucratic Phenomenon

84. Crozier, Michel J. and Friedberg, Erhard Actors and Systems: The Politics of Collective Action

85. Fanon, Frantz The Wretched of the Earth

86. Friedmann, G. Problèmes humains du machinisme industriel - Les débuts de la sociologie du travail

87. Gans, Herbert J. Urban Villagers: Group and Class in the Life of Italian-Americans

88. Gerth, H.H. and Mills, Ch.W. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology
89. Giddens, Anthony New Rules of Sociological Method

90. Giddens, Anthony Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age

91. Goffman, Erving Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience

92. Hughes, Everett Charrington The Sociological Eye

93. Mann, Michael The Sources of Social Power

94. Marx, Karl The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

95. Mauss, Marcel The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies

96. Popper, Karl R. The Logic of Scientific Discovery

97. Poulantzas, Nicos Political Power and Social Classes

98. Sorokin, Pitirim A. Social and Cultural Mobility

99. Thomas, William Isaac and Znaniecki, Florian The Polish Peasant in Europe and America: A Classic Work in Immigration History

100. Wittgenstein, Ludwig Philosophical Investigations

About ISA
The ISA was founded in 1949 under UNESCO and currently its members come from 167 countries.

Its mission is to "represent sociologists everywhere, regardless of their school of thought, scientific approaches or ideological opinion, and to advance sociological knowledge throughout the world."

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