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A selection of his best work by the head of the sociology department at New York University, one of the few Americans in the field who makes a practice of writing essays--short, reflective pieces--as distinct from research studies. Wrong's gift for the clear exposition of complex problems is exemplified by the essay most closely associated with his name, ""The Oversocialized Conception of Man in Modern Sociology"" (1961), which is the pivot of part one, on human nature and the sociological perspective. The essay has not worn particularly well. Its central thesis, that the model of man in structural functionalism is oversocialized (just as its model of society is overintegrated), is still fresh and cogent; but in retrospect it is clear that the very resources from which Wrong formulated his critique, his readings of Freud, ruled out the possibility of offering a sociological solution to the problem he had exposed. Part two shifts attention to the societal level and consists of contributions to the debates on social stratification and inequality. The third and final part is more of a hodgepodge though an interest in power runs through most of the seven essays. As with ""The Oversocialized Conception. . . ,"" the critiques are sometimes striking, but the promise of solutions is unrealized.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press