Adventures in Sociology by Melvin L. Kohn


In this exciting book, Mel Kohn – the former President of the American Sociological Association and the author of Class and Conformity and several other books and articles – reconsiders a long lifetime of research, culminating in a widely accepted theory of social structure and personality. In this re-assessment, he is critical of some of his past research, is ecstatic about other studies, but is always consistent in that he is now assessing how that research appears to a critical scholar in late 2015 and early 2016. Moreover, Mel takes his role as a sociologist to heart, and tells the story of how his life and the people and organizations he has lived with (including his sworn enemies, Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan) have affected the development of his research and theory.

The book becomes, in essence, the story of how the research has been affected by Mel’s life. An essential of that story is something that doesn’t even appear until half-way through the book. The research becomes more and more cross-national, and the way in which Mel does cross-national research is a model that he hopes others will follow: Instead of studying some one country, he studies whichever country is most appropriate to the most essential questions he wants to answer at the time. First it was Italy, later it was Poland and Japan, then Ukraine, finally China. It also involved spending large amounts of time in Germany, East and West, and in Norway.  And how did he manage to work intensively in so many countries? Not by learning their languages, which would have been impossible, but by collaborating with sociologists and kindred scholars in the countries he chose to study.