Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

Sociological amnesia : cross-currents in disciplinary history

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page





Sociologists today show little interest in Aron’s legacy. Why is that? This article examines Aron’s British reception in his own day to help account for his eclipse as a sociologist in ours. An archive of British university teaching materials housed at the LSE, and assessments of Aron’s books, are my main reference points. The next two sections are devoted to the assessments; in them, I include both British and American appraisals because they point in the same direction. The third section, examining the archive materials, draws on purely British sources. Given the descriptive and explanatory objectives of this article I seek here neither to defend Aron nor urge a reconsideration of his oeuvre. Nor, in the confines of a single paper, can I provide a full analysis of Aron’s major commentators: in order of importance, John A. Hall, Ernest Gellner, Tom Bottomore and Anthony Giddens. A point worth bearing in mind as we proceed, however, is that the evaluation of Aron among British sociologists is also a window onto the discipline itself. It shows what sociologists consider distinctly sociological methods and arguments to be. It shows how difficult it is for specific kinds of thinkers to be read as vital sociologists and social theorists. It shows, in short, both the demands and the limits of the sociological imagination as currently construed.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781472442345

Full-text Version

Accepted Author Manuscript



Recommended Citation

Baehr, P. (2015). British sociology and Raymond Aron. In A. Law, & E. Royal Lybeck (Eds.), Sociological amnesia: Cross-currents in disciplinary history (pp. 17-36). Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Included in

Sociology Commons