HOW SHOULD SOCIOLOGY understand its history? Do the concepts that sociologists use routinely to study classical sociology and its contemporary significance improve or impede this understanding? This book examines these questions by assessing the value to sociology of the concepts of founders, classics and canons. Its central thesis is that it is possible to resolve controversies surrounding the origins and appraisal of sociology's heritage but that doing so requires a proper understanding of what it means to talk about founders, classics, and canons. For each concept, and the set of controversies that surround it, the structure of Baehr's analysis is the same. He arrives at a proper understanding of the concept by first summarizing the extant sociological literature and then augmenting this literature with logical, theoretical or historical analyses that consider wider debates in sociology and other disciplines. He then uses this understanding to account for current usages of the concept and to present arguments for or against these ways of using it to interpret, defend or attack authors, institutions, and texts.