I ntroduction S ociology and H uman R ights

Resituating The Discipline

Authored by: David L. Brunsma , Keri Iyall Smith , Brian K. Gran

T he H andbook of S ociology and H uman R ights

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781594518829
eBook ISBN: 9781315634227
Adobe ISBN: 9781317258391


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The roots of the discipline of sociology sink deep into the fertile soils of human rights. While Émile Durkheim seemed unsure of human rights’ bases, he helped form the League for the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1898 (Cotterrell 2007, 117). Max Weber’s interest in human rights was tied to his study of expansions in capitalism and bureaucratization (Joas 2005). Karl Marx, famously critical of Bruno Bauer, produced a theory of emancipation in “On the Jewish Question” (1843). In commenting that “human rights are never in such danger as when their only defenders are political institutions and their officers,” George Herbert Mead (1915) offered an early recognition of the importance of the struggle for the dignity and self-determination of people and their communities. While using sociological principles and tools to tackle inequalities, W. E. B. Du Bois insisted that ensuring justice is meaningful to everyone.

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