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Making a career in academia: the case of Edward Shils and mid-twentieth century sociology

Vanderstraeten, Raf (2022) Making a career in academia: the case of Edward Shils and mid-twentieth century sociology. American Sociologist. ISSN 0003-1232

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s12108-022-09553-0


This paper analyses, on the basis of the available archival documents, the early career of Edward A. Shils (1910–1995), especially in the period around 1950, as well as the changing expectations in the field of sociology in this period more generally. It starts with an overview of Shils’ translations of German texts, especially of Karl Mannheim and Max Weber, and the way in which he benefited from the growing reputational standing of these authors. The focus next shifts to Shils’ transatlantic presence, at both the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics, and the choices he made in this regard. Afterwards we look at his work with Talcott Parsons at Harvard University and the successful last-minute claim to the co-editorship of Toward a General Theory of Action. In the concluding section, it is emphasized that Shils was captivated by the perception of his own life and that of others in terms of a career trajectory – with its specific successes and failures.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2022 15:24
Last Modified: 31 May 2024 17:09

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