Cover of Introduction to Sociology by Theodor W. Adorno Edited by Christoph Gödde Translated by Edmund Jephcott
Introduction to Sociology
Theodor W. Adorno Edited by Christoph Gödde Translated by Edmund Jephcott

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1999
208 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804739337
Paper ISBN: 9780804746830

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Introduction to Sociology distills decades of distinguished work in sociology by one of this century's most influential thinkers in the areas of social theory, philosophy, aesthetics, and music.

It consists of a course of seventeen lectures given by Theodor W. Adorno in May-July 1968, the last lecture series before his death in 1969. Captured by tape recorder (which Adorno called "the fingerprint of the living mind"), these lectures present a somewhat different, and more accessible, Adorno from the one who composed the faultlessly articulated and almost forbiddingly perfect prose of the works published in his lifetime. Here we can follow Adorno's thought in the process of formation (he spoke from brief notes), endowed with the spontaneity and energy of the spoken word. The lectures form an ideal introduction to Adorno's work, acclimatizing the reader to the greater density of thought and language of his classic texts.

Delivered at the time of the "positivist dispute" in sociology, Adorno defends the position of the "Frankfurt School" against criticism from mainstream positivist sociologists. He sets out a conception of sociology as a discipline going beyond the compilation and interpretation of empirical facts, its truth being inseparable from the essential structure of society itself. Adorno sees sociology not as one academic discipline among others, but as an over-arching discipline that impinges on all aspects of social life.

Tracing the history of the discipline and insisting that the historical context is constitutive of sociology itself, Adorno addresses a wide range of topics, including: the purpose of studying sociology; the relation of sociology and politics; the influence of Saint-Simon, Comte, Durkheim, Weber, Marx, and Freud; the contributions of ethnology and anthropology; the relationship of method to subject matter; the problems of quantitative analysis; the fetishization of science; and the separation of sociology and social philosophy.

About the author

Theodor W. Adorno was one of the founders of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory.

"North American sociologists, social theorists, and social scientists will welcome the accessibility of this text. It is well translated, easily read, and informative on Adorno's critique of empiricist and positivist sociology. . . . One will rarely encounter another text like this one, which can make an argument for a dialectical theory of society while also showing great sophistication in the treatment of historical materials as well as in the critical appraisal of research methods. All in all, Adorno's great intellectual passion is noticeable throughout these lectures. They clearly build on the series of splendid books produced by the author in Germany during the 1950s and 1960s."

Critical Sociology

"Adorno an author of an 'intro' book? This surprising volume is a wonderful antidote to the impression that the Frankfurt School opposed empirical research. . . . This brief work is thick with implications for the discipline of sociology, which Adorno fundamentally rethinks."

Contemporary Sociology