Modern Sociology Figures

The modern sociological figures featured in this post have their main source in the book by the sociologist George Ritzer. The list of modern sociological figures below is shown as an online reference for learners who want to get to know sociological figures.

Erving Goffman

Biography:Erving Goffman was born in Manville, Canada on June 11, 1922. Goffman is known as a micro-sociology figure specializing in the study of social interactions. Analysis of self-presentation in daily social interactions is presented in his book in light and easy to read language. The theoretical contribution that Goffman made to sociology was a concept known as dramaturgy. Goffman sees everyday social interactions as happening on a theater stage where the individual is the actor. There are two areas in one social world, namely in front of the stage and backstage. Goffman sees social interactions taking place in front of a stage where individuals play a role in a certain setting with a certain audience. Backstage is a place where the individual releases his social role.

Masterpiece: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life


Choose your appearance carefully because it could be that what you wear as a mask becomes your real face.


James Coleman

Biography: James Coleman was born in 1926 in Bedford, US. Coleman is one of America’s most prolific sociologists and his extensive studies. The focus of Coleman’s study in sociology can be divided into three groups: education, the relationship between macro and micro sociology, and policy research. Coleman believes that education is one vehicle that can produce a just society. Coleman’s analysis of the relationship between macro and micro-sociology produces a mechanism by which this just society can be realized. Coleman’s theoretical contributions extend to practical areas such as policy making. Coleman is known as an educational theorist whose research has direct implications for educational policy.

Masterpiece: Foundations of Social Theory


What children learn is more about the character of their classmates than the character of the teacher.

Harold Garfinkel

Biography:Harold Garfinkel was born on October 29, 1917 in US. Garfinkel was influenced by the flow of phenomenology, but in his career developed his own methodology program known as ethnomethodology. Ethnometodology is an empirical method that Garfinkel describes as asymmetric sociology. Ethnometodology focuses on aspects of social order but is studied with a different approach from structural functional. Social order or “social order” in an ethnometodological perspective is the stability of social relations in society. For Garfinkel, social reality is a flowing social interaction activity. The social scientist is not supposed to interrupt social interactions through the research he does. Ethnometodology identifies the community as an entity that can be observed without intervention from the researcher.

Masterpiece: The Perception of the Other: A Study in Social Order


The only thing we can be sure of is that we are thinking creatures.

Daniel Bell

Biography: Daniel Bell was born in New York, US on May 10, 1919. Bell is known for his theory of post-industrial society or “postindustrial society”. Bell’s theory is built on historical explanations, contains substantial criticism of modern society. Bell theoretically explains social change in three different aspects. These three aspects include: society, nature and technology. Social change always involves all three. Society occupies a core position in social change. Nature is another field outside of society in the form of a geographical environment. While technology is an instrument used by modern humans with the logic of efficiency. Post-industrial society, according to Bell, is a modern society that is in a moral crisis and lacks transcendental ethical efforts.

Masterpiece: The Coming of Postindustrial Society


Technology is the pinnacle of the human imagination.

Norbert Elias

Biography: Norbert Elias was born on June 22, 1897 in Breslau, currently part of Poland. Elias’s contribution to sociology was his study of the civilization process in Western Europe. The process towards a “civilized” or “civilizing process” which is what Western society calls a transformation of behavior that lasts a very long time. Elias questioned how the pattern of behavior from the upper class spread to other classes, so that all citizens within the sphere of the state call themselves civilized society. The term civilized itself then legitimates the superiority of the West European community over other societies. As one of the figures of modern sociology, Elias is known as a theorist of formative sociology and civilization.

Masterpiece: The Civilizing Process


The minority group should be rewarded with the emotional warmth of the majority to facilitate the assimilation process.


Michel Foucault

Biography:Michel Foucault was born into a wealthy family in France in 1926. Foucault was an influential great thinker of the 20th century. His studies of madness, knowledge, institutions and sexuality have had an impact on a wide variety of disciplines such as criminology, philosophy, politics and sociology. Foucault describes himself as a historian of systems of thought. His study of the genealogy of science reveals how knowledge systems transform radically. The thought system of Western society is divided into three periods according to Faucault: the renaissance era, the classical era, and the modern era. Each era has a different epistemology. Therefore, the way people constructed knowledge in each period was different. Foucault is also known as a key thinker in the school of poststructuralism. Classification of knowledge, according to him, is a product of power relations. Foucault is the most quoted figure of modern sociology.

Masterpiece: The Archeology of Knowledge


Where there is power, there is resistance.

Jurgen Habermas

Biography:Jurgen Habermas was born in Germany in 1929, known as the second generation of critical theory of the Frankfurt school. Habermas’ important contribution to social science was his thinking about communicative action, public space and language. Unlike the punggawa of the first generation of critical theories, Habermas emphasized the positive aspects of enlightenment philosophy. His study of the public space explains the process of the rise and fall of democratic space in Europe from the 18th to 20th centuries. The democratic spaces studied by Habermas include salons and cafes, centers of contemporary social and political discussion activities in his time. Newspapers are another growing space for discussion. However, the commercialization process destroys the potential of public discourse in the objective and critical public sphere. Now,

Masterpiece: The Structural Transformation in the Public Sphere


The development of society depends on criticism of its own traditions.

Anthony Giddens

Biography: Anthony Giddens was born in London in 1938. Giddens is one of Britain’s leading sociologists of the contemporary era. His important contribution to sociology was his theory called structuration and advanced modernity. Structuration is an abstraction model in the form of binary opposition or structural dualism. The concept of structure was initially assumed to be a reality that exists outside of humans. According to Giddens, these external structures not only exist but also limit human action. The dualism of structure means that besides limiting, structure also empowers human action. In short, structuration theory is looking at the duality of the role of structure between limiting and empowering. Giddens is a figure of modern sociology who has written extensively about the conditions of advanced capitalist society.

Masterpiece: The Constitution of Society


A person’s identity is not in their behavior, but in their capacity to maintain the identity narrative they create.

Pierre Bourdieu

Biography:Pierre Bourdieu was born on August 1, 1930 in Denguin, France. Bourdieu is in the ranks of influential contemporary sociologists. Bourdieu’s contributions to sociology cover a wide range of aspects. Several conceptual terms were coined and are widely used today including: habitus, field, cultural capital and symbolic violence. One of Bourdieu’s many-referenced studies is the relationship between cultural tastes and social class. Cultural tastes, according to him, are never neutral, but instead show preferences that symbolize social class. Power is maintained by consuming cultural symbols that are exploited from material objects. According to Bourdeiu, the symbolic dimension is full of domination and power practices. Social inequality is an implication of the practice of certain class preferences for certain cultural tastes.

Masterpiece: Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste


Taste is not pure, but a differentiator of social status.


Jean Baudrillard

Biography: Jean Baudrillard returned to Reims, France in 1929. Baudrillard is known as a theorist of a society of consumption and symbolic exchange. Baudrillard’s contribution is to the argument that the consumption of symbols and signs marks the transformation of society from modern to postmodern. Baudrillard considers that contemporary society is increasingly losing meaning along with the rise of symbols as markers of existence. In the society of consumption, the use value of a material object has disappeared, replaced by the value of the symbol. People’s behavior in buying goods, for example, is based on considerations that are symbolic in nature. These symbols speak of who they belong to and what social class they belong to. As a figure of modern sociology, Baudrillard’s writings on the consumption society are widely quoted.

Masterpiece: The Consumer Society


We live in an era where more information but less meaningful.

Judith Butler

Biography:Judith Butler was born on February 24, 1956 in Ohio, US. Butler is known as a gender and feminist theorist. An important contribution is the study of gender as a social construct and performance. According to him, social behavior determines a person’s gender. Butler’s thoughts on gender as performance have been widely adopted by feminist activists and supporters of equal rights for LGBT people. According to him, gender performance is not just a certain behavior and action, but also an effort to strengthen norms that produce identities as feminine or masculine. According to him, the feminine and masculine categories, which are identical to women and men, are just natural illusions. Gender performance challenges natural conceptions of femininity and masculinity.

Masterpiece: Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity


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