Cover of Great Minds by Gianfranco Poggi and Giuseppe Sciortino
Great Minds
Encounters with Social Theory
Gianfranco Poggi and Giuseppe Sciortino


192 pages.
from $26.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804772136
Paperback ISBN: 9780804772143


Excerpts and More

Modern social thought is largely the intellectual product of a number of "great minds." Revisiting the central theories of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Parsons, Goffman, Garfinkel, and Luhmann, this text introduces readers to a select group of thinkers who have made significant, distinctive, and controversial contributions to the development of modern social theory.

Offering a careful selection of primary sources that encourage direct engagement with the writings, Poggi and Sciortino emphasize the theoretical insights and problems that remain valuable to discussions of social theory today. Each chapter introduces key ideas, whether classical or contemporary, through a discussion of each theorist's contribution to the exploration of the human actors and the consequences, potentialities, and vulnerabilities embedded in social relationships. Great Minds was originally published in Italian. This first-ever English-language edition includes a new final chapter on the work of Luhmann.

About the authors

Gianfranco Poggi is Professor of Sociology at the University of Trento, Italy. He is the author of Weber: A Short Introduction (2006) and Forms of Power (2001), among other works. Giuseppe Sciortino is Professor of Sociology at the University of Trento, Italy.

"Sociologists Poggi and Sciortino (both, Univ. of Trento, Italy) have written brief interpretative essays for nine classical and contemporary sociological theorists: Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, George Herbert Mead, Talcott Parsons, Erving Goffman, Harold Garfinkel, and Niklas Luhmann. This book, translated from Italian, provides crisp, elegant prose that will assist students in grappling with complex topics and becoming familiar with each theorist's key concepts and methodology."

—J. H. Rubin, Choice

"Poggi and Sciortino provide a fresh, lively encounter with sociology's major thinkers. The book is effortlessly engaging and conveys the complexity of sociological thinking with ease. Readers are given the chance to both deepen their knowledge and revisit authors in a new and stimulating way. A great achievement!"

—Delia Baldassarri, Princeton University

"Through a series of highly engaging encounters with the great contributors to our tradition, Poggi and Sciortino do much to advance the critical self-reflection of sociology. Never content with mere exposition, they probe the 'great minds' of the discipline for fresh guidance and insight into the problems still open in sociological inquiry. Even with its focus on the past, this is an inspiringly present- and future-oriented work."

—Mustafa Emirbayer, University of Wisconsin-Madison