Simmel's Influence on American Sociology Since 1975

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Milos BROCIC, University of Toronto, Canada
Daniel SILVER, University of Toronto, Canada
With 2018 marking the centenary of Georg Simmel’s death, we take the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of his work within American sociology. This is a project which began with the late Donald Levine, who in 1976 published a two-part article in the American Journal of Sociology tracing Simmel’s influence in American sociology. Building on his work, we explore the continued influence of Simmel in the discipline since. We employ a citation network analysis of all the references to Simmel’s work from 1975-2016 among the top sociological journals in America revealing the different clusters of his scholarly use. Our inquiry indicates that while Simmel continues to be an inspiring figure across many fields in the discipline, the content of his influence has fluctuated since Levine’s publication. Most notably, Simmel’s work has emerged as foundational for network analysis, while also finding renewed application among symbolic interactionists, and informing the ‘cultural turn’ within the discipline as well. The article traces these various appropriations of Simmel’s ideas across different fields since 1975, and concludes with a general discussion on what his legacy has contributed – and continues to contribute – to the discipline overall.