The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick

The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick

Edited by Paul van Seters

Anthem Companions to Sociology

The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick is a collection of essays by renowned authors on the preeminent sociologist.

Hardback, 234 Pages


August 2021

£120.00, $195.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Philip Selznick (1919–2010) was one of the preeminent sociologists of his time. He is widely recognized for his major contributions to a number of fields, including general sociology, sociology of organizations, industrial sociology, sociology of law, and moral sociology. He was a Professor of Sociology (and later a Professor of Law and Sociology) at the University of California, Berkeley from 1952 until his (notional) retirement in 1984. He founded the Center for the Study of Law and Society (in 1961) and the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program (in 1978), both at UC Berkeley. The Law and Society Center and the JSP Program are still thriving. Over the years they have brought legions of students and scholars from all over the world to Berkeley, and then sent them in turn to many of the world’s great universities.

Selznick published his first book, TVA and the Grass Roots, in 1949; his last book, A Humanist Science, appeared in 2008. In between he wrote The Organizational Weapon (1952); Leadership in Administration (1957); Law, Society, and Industrial Justice (1969); Law and Society in Transition (1978, with Philippe Nonet); The Moral Commonwealth (1992), which he considered his magnum opus; and The Communitarian Persuasion (2002). These books, and the numerous contributions he published in edited volumes and academic journals, reflect the exceptionally broad scope of his interests. His intellectual strength also stands out in Sociology, the textbook he wrote together with Leonard Broom. This textbook came out in 1955 and went through seven editions, the last one published in 1981. For some thirty years, it was the best sold sociology textbook, not just in the United States but worldwide.

In the ten chapters of The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick, three recurrent themes stand out. First, in all chapters much attention is devoted to Selznick’s impressive professional and intellectual range and to his lasting influence in a number of major fields of sociology. Second, throughout these ten chapters, the question recurs whether Selznick markedly changed his sociological or political perspectives in the course of his career, or whether there is a basic continuity and coherence in his preoccupations and convictions throughout his life. Third, while in the first chapter Selznick’s intellectual predisposition is linked to the particular circumstances of his younger years and student days, and in the last chapter it is argued that Selznick’s distinctive intellectual perspective can best be ascribed to his “ecumenical sensibility,” all the chapters in between make substantive contributions to revealing the importance of the humanist impulse underlying Selznick’s sociology.

In order to capture the spirit of this towering sociologist, this man of all seasons, the book devotes one of the chapters to a historical symposium, in which Selznick himself responds to critics of his magnum opus, The Moral Commonwealth. The other nine chapters of this volume have a different background. They embody the legacy of Selznick’s humanist science. They come from different corners of the academic world: sociology, organization studies, law, political science, philosophy. But they all cross disciplinary boundaries, bridge disciplinary divides, and display an awareness of and respect for Selznick’s humanist sensibility. Selznick would have felt very comfortable in this company. In that sense, all the chapters of The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick are true companions to Selznick’s sociology.


The Anthem Companions to Sociology offers wide ranging and masterly overviews of the works of major sociologists. The volumes in the series provide authoritative and critical appraisals of key figures in modern social thought. These books, written and edited by leading figures, are essential additional reading on the history of sociology. — Gerard Delanty, Professor of Sociology, University of Sussex, Brighton

This ambitious series provides an intellectually thoughtful introduction to the featured social theorists and offers a comprehensive assessment of their legacy. Each edited collection synthesizes the many dimensions of the respective theorist’s contributions and sympathetically ponders the various nuances in and the broader societal context for their body of work. The series will be appreciated by seasoned scholars and students alike. — Michele Dillon, Professor of Sociology and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, University of New Hampshire

The orchestration and emergence of the Anthem Companions to Sociology represent a formidable and invaluable achievement. Each companion explores the scope, ingenuity, and conceptual subtleties of the works of a theorist indispensable to the sociological project. The editors and contributors for each volume are the very best in their fields, and they guide us towards the richest, most creative seams in the writings of their thinker. The results, strikingly consistent from one volume to the next, brush away the years, reanimate what might have been lost, and bring numerous rays of illumination to the most pressing challenges of the present. — Rob Stones, Professor of Sociology, Western Sydney University, Australia

The Anthem Companions, those that have appeared already and those that are to come, will give every sociologist a handy and authoritative guide to all the giants of their discipline. — Stephen Mennell, Professor Emeritus, University College Dublin

Each volume of the Anthem Companions to Sociology examines comprehensively not only a theorist’s distinct approach and unique contributions, but also situates each in reference to the major parameters of mainstream theoretical schools and traditions. This remarkable Series in addition throws into high relief the singular features of modern societies. It promises to set the standard for discussions of Sociology’s long-term development and belongs on the shelves of every social scientist.— Stephen Kalberg, Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Boston University 

This valuable series covers both familiar figures in the history of sociology (such as Max Weber and, prospectively, Marx and Durkheim) and less often treated ones such as Arendt and Troeltsch who are also highly relevant to sociology, broadly conceived. In these books, leading scholars explore important but often neglected aspects of their subjects’ work. — William Outhwaite, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University, UK

Author Information

Paul van Seters was Professor of Legal Sociology at Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, The Netherlands (1978–1999). Since 1999, he is Professor of Globalization and Sustainable Development at Tilburg University.


Anthem Companions to Sociology

Table of Contents

List of Contributors; 1. The Intellectual Enterprise We Call Sociology, Paul van Seters; 2. Philosophy for the Twice- Born: Selznick and Dewey in Dialogue, Kenneth Winston; 3. Power Relations across Organizations and Fields: Building on Selznick’s Concepts of Co-Optation and Institutionalization, Calvin Morrill; 4. Organizations, Institutions, and Law: The Sociological Significance of Philip Selznick’s Law, Society, and Industrial Justice, Lauren B. Edelman; 5. Post-Industrial Justice? Normativity and Empiricism in a Changing World of Work, Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck; 6. The Promise of the Rule of Law Ideal, Sanne Taekema; 7. Philip Selznick on Law and Society: Democratic Ideals, Communitarianism, and Natural Law, Bryan S. Turner; 8. Selznick’s Concepts of Culture and Community, Roger Cotterrell; 9. A Symposium on The Moral Commonwealth, Charles W. Anderson, George Steinmetz, Douglas D. Heckathorn, and Philip Selznick; 10. An Ecumenical Sensibility, Martin Krygier; Index.


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