This is an overview of the career of the sociologist Jeffrey C Alexander plus an alternative approach including the George Mason research program.
For several decades Alexander (1947 - ) has been very much a man at work to advance sociology as an academic discipline and a handmaiden of left liberal social reform. He took a BA from Harvard in the 1960s and moved to the University of California for doctoral studies. Despite being a committed Marxist he made a serious study of Talcott Parsons on advice from a radical teacher who assured him that there was need to take account of the Talcott Parsons system of sociological theory.
He picked up the post-positivist philosophy of science from Polanyi, Kuhn, Hanson, Koyre and others, then embarked on a review of the contributions of Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Parsons. From that platform he moved on to be a leading light in a movement that he christenened “neofunctionalism”, part of the “third phase” of postwar Western sociology. At last report he has moved on to the strong program in cultural theory.
The overview of Alexander’s career is based on selected items from a very large list.
The selected items are:
The Introduction to a 1985 book “Neofunctionalism”, edited by Alexander, that launched neofunctionalism as the “third phase” of postwar sociological thinking
A 1990 paper with Paul Colomy. ‘Neofunctionalism Today: Reconstructing a Theoretical Tradition’ which argued that neofunctionalism was delivering on its promisory notes.
A 2001 Editor’s Introduction to a multivolume collection of readings Mainstream and Critical Social Theory: Classical, Modern and Contemporary.