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The brief essay is a response to an article by the French sociologist Loïc Wacquant which critiques the concept of “racial capitalism” that has gained much prominence and currency in recent times. It offers a historical analysis of the emergence of “race” as a concept in the Euro-Atlantic sphere and points to the complexities in extending it beyond that space, into the Indian Ocean world for example. As a consequence, the ambitious claims made by some theorists of “racial capitalism” appear difficult to sustain.
This paper adds to a vital international tradition of discussing the history of sociological theory by empirically investigating its structure, dynamics, and relationships. Our primary contribution to this tradition is to bring to the conversation a greater level of comparative and historical scope, a more systematic quantitative methodology, and a degree of reflexivity and synthesis. To do so, we examine some 670 editions of sociological-theory books geared toward students, published in English, German, and French between 1950 and 2020. Our empirical analysis highlights patterns, trends, and relationships among the theorists featured in these books, the narratives and approaches that define their visions of sociological theory, and the characteristics of the authors who wrote them. Our findings reveal some key intellectual as well as sociological factors associated with the changing composition of the canon.
There are many reasons you may want to make your contributions to public debates anonymously, and there are many reasons you may want to act in solidarity with others. Why might people engaged in social movements want to do both at the same time? “Anonymous solidarity”—symbolized by a great many protestors wearing one and the same iconic Guy Fawkes mask—signifies not only solidarity (“we are as one”) but also multiplicity (“we are many”) and interchangeability of each for the other (“for every one of us who falls, ten more will take our place”). The latter two features make a movement more likely to succeed, the former by rendering it stronger and the latter by rendering it more robust. A raft of evidence shows that people are more likely to participate in collective action that is more likely to succeed, even if their own participation is in no way essential for its success.