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The most influential books in Australian sociology (MIBAS), 1963-2003.

Sociology is, by any measure, a relatively new discipline. Less than 150 years have passed since the death of its titular founder, Auguste Comte (1798-1857), and all sociology departments around the world are, at the time of writing, less than centennials. Given the institutional evolution of the discipline across the globe and its primary concern with the causes and consequences of social change, a great variety of texts have been produced espousing a wide diversity of methodological and theoretical perspectives. This article focuses on the contribution of Australian texts to the global sociological enterprise. In particular, we discuss the results of a survey of Australian sociologists to determine the 10 most influential books in Australian sociology over the 40-year period 1963-2003.

The development of sociology in Australia is a recent phenomenon, even in the context of the discipline's relative youth. While evidence of the sporadic teaching of courses with sociology in their titles can be found in the early part of the 20th century in Australian universities, the institutionalization of the discipline began when the first chair in sociology was established at the University of New South Wales in 1959 (Baldock and Lally, 1974). The Sociological Association of Australia and New Zealand (SAANZ) was established only four years later in 1963 and its journal, the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology (ANZJS) two years after that in 1965. The Association changed its name to the Australian Sociological Association (TASA) in 1988, and the ANZJS became the Journal of Sociology (JOS) in 1998. In 2003 TASA began publishing a second journal, the Health Sociology Review (HSR). In addition to publishing the journals, TASA publishes a quarterly newsletter (Nexus), holds annual conferences, runs a website and email list, and bestows a number of prestigious awards. As the premier national network for Australian sociologists, it has continued since its inception as a voluntary professional association open to anyone with an interest in the discipline of sociology. TASA membership has no qualification or registration requirements, aside from the completion of a membership form and payment of an annual membership fee. It has an average membership base of approximately 550, consisting mostly of university-based sociologists and social scientists, including postgraduate and undergraduate students, as well as public servants, private sector consultants and social researchers.

In the process of preparing for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of TASA (1963-2003), its Executive Committee decided to commemorate the occasion by asking the members of the Association about the books that have most profoundly influenced them as sociology scholars. It was in this context that the idea of a survey of the Most Influential Books in Australian Sociology (MIBAS) was born. In this article, we provide the background information on the survey, contextualize it vis-a-vis some other well-known attempts to assess the influence of sociological books, and offer some reflections on the MIBAS findings and the process as a whole.

The Australian Sociological Association's MIBAS survey

The MIBAS survey was divided into two stages: nomination and ranking. Stage 1 ran between April and July 2003, through the member-only section of the TASA website. All TASA members were asked to nominate up to five Australian books of sociological interest, books about Australian society or by Australian sociologists (broadly defined) published since 1963, which they considered to have most profoundly shaped sociological scholarship in Australia. Much consideration went into this broad definition to ensure that the list of nominated works was inclusive, though sufficiently bounded in order to produce a distinctly Australian list of scholarly books published since the formation of TASA--a 40-year period from 1963. It is worth noting that given these criteria, edited books, multi-authored works and textbooks could be nominated. The MIBAS process deliberately aimed to exclude the works of sociological 'classics' that undoubtedly had an important influence on Australian sociologists, but had no direct Australian content. We also wanted to avoid merely duplicating previous attempts at compiling lists of influential sociological books conducted by the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the International Sociological Association (ISA), even though we acknowledge they clearly inspired the MIBAS process (cf. Clawson and Zussman, 1998; Contemporary Sociology, 1996; ISA, 1998).

At the end of the stage 1 nomination process, a list of 66 books had been compiled, many of which had received multiple nominations. Table 1 lists the 66 nominated books in alphabetical order by author surname. Notable among the list of nominated books is the wide range of topics and styles, including empirically based works, books on theory and a small number of textbooks. Interestingly, while books published throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are well represented, only one book published in the 1960s was nominated. Not surprisingly, only three books originally published in the 2000s were nominated.

Stage 2 of the survey involved inviting TASA members to rank from 1 to 10 their top 10 books from the list of nominated books. (1) The voting process ran from August to the end of October 2003, and once again took place through the member-only section of the TASA website, ensuring that members could only vote once. The online voting process automatically tallied the votes. The results were announced during a MIBAS plenary at the 2003 TASA Conference, held in December at the University of New England in Armidale (New South Wales), and were subsequently made available on the TASA website. (2)

Other attempts to measure the influence of sociological books

MIBAS is not the first attempt to rank sociological books and there are some international antecedents that are worth noting at this point in order to appreciate some of the complexities and problems associated with such undertakings.

Contemporary Sociology, 1996

In 1996 the editorial board of the American Sociological Association journal, Contemporary Sociology, undertook to list the 10 most influential sociology books as an opportunity to mark the journal's silver anniversary. The whole exercise reportedly 'generated more excitement and enthusiasm than anything else [they have] done' (Clawson, 1996: ix). The list was compiled by nominations from members of the editorial board and their top 10 list is shown in Table 2.

The Contemporary Sociology editorial board consisted of 27 members, 14 of whom were women. A vast majority of members of the editorial board were from US universities, with the exception of four members who came from Australia, (3) Canada, Finland and Norway. The two obvious features of the Contemporary Sociology top 10 is that all the books were first published in the 1970s and the majority of books are North American in origin. Given that the compilation of the list was restricted to publications in the 25-year period of the journal's operation, this is perhaps not surprising. In addition, both these characteristics may be explained by the demographic bias in the editorial board. Moreover, judgements about the influence of books are always made at a particular historical juncture, and it is quite likely that the perceived influence of these books could have been altered simply by virtue of an expanded time horizon from which books could be chosen.

While the Contemporary Sociology top 10 books provoked controversy and discussion, the process of determining the list could hardly be viewed as transparent, objective or representative. The use of an expert panel, in this case the editorial board of a journal, to compile a list of influential books, resulted in considerable criticism, in the form of claims of exclusionary practice and subjective bias (see Clawson, 1998). Clawson and Zussman (1998) subsequently responded to the criticisms and acknowledged the shortcomings of their list, including the notion that a ranking based on 'influence' can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. They also recognized there were other ways in which the influence of sociological works could be determined. For example, the Social Science Citation Index can provide us with a standard and quantifiable measure of influence, but this index is perhaps more suitable to assess the influence of journal articles than books.

The International Sociological Association (ISA), 1998

To mark the last ISA Congress of the 20th century and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ISA, members of the Association were asked to 'list five books published in the 20th century which were most influential in their work as sociologists' (ISA, 1998). Approximately 16 percent of the ISA membership (455 out of 2785) participated in the process, but only 28 percent of voters were female, and over 65 percent had studied sociology in English (ISA, 1998). The voting process involved a simple tally of the most nominated books and resulted in a list of the ISA top 10 'books of the century', which is shown in Table 3.

The ISA ranking represents sociology as a truly international, yet Western (and masculine) discipline; a mix of German, French, British and North American influences. While Max Weber's Economy and Society (1922) topped the list, half the books are by North American authors, most likely reflecting the dominance of US members among the ISA. Interestingly, there is no overlap between this list and the ranking produced by the ASA's Contemporary Sociology editorial board. Part of the reason for this may be that the ISA process had no 'date of publication' restriction on the nomination process and this is reflected in a number of 'classics' on the ISA list. Despite this, some sociologists might be surprised that the top 10 did not include authors such as Simmel, Durkheim, Foucault, Beck and Giddens.

Herbert Gans's top-selling sociology books

Herbert Gans (1997a) attempted to produce an alternative ranking of sociology books based on a compilation of sociology 'bestsellers' (see Table 4). While using a rather different methodology to Contemporary Sociology and the ISA, it is nevertheless an interesting way to measure the influence of sociological books. To make it on to the list, Gans included books which had sold at least 50 000 copies and could be identified as authored by sociologists. However, Gans's approach raises a number of important issues. He takes 'sociologist' to mean somebody who is trained in sociological methods or has some training in related disciplines, particularly anthropology. The sales figures were obtained from editors of commercial and university publishers, and from authors themselves. By limiting his selection to living American and Canadian authors, his list excluded sociological 'classics', such as Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel. Additionally, Gans excluded books by journalists because, even though some would have met the conceptual and methodological criteria for inclusion, he does not see them as trained social scientists--a decision that may not always be valid. Considering that the reading of sociological texts often requires some prior training in theory and method, it is perhaps not surprising that the sales of sociology books do not parallel the sales figures in other fields, such as literature or popular psychology. In fact, only one book, The Lonely Crowd (1950) by Riesman, Glazer and Denney, had sold more than 1 million copies. The next two on the list both sold over half a million copies and would also be familiar to most contemporary readers, Liebow's Tally's Corner (1967) and Slater's Pursuit of Loneliness (1970). The remainder of the top 10 can be seen in Table 4.

Gans's list of bestsellers sparked quite a number of responses (see Contemporary Sociology, 1997). In addition to published responses, he confirmed that 'a goodly number of people' wanted their favourite authors to be included in the list, even though they didn't qualify (Gans, 1997b). Gans (1998: 19) readily admits that his approach underestimates the influence of sociological books, given that people 'buy books they do not read, and they may also read books they do not buy, by borrowing from friends and libraries.' He also acknowledges that sales of used books could not be taken into account. One last point worth highlighting is that Gans's list does not attempt to be comprehensive with regard to global sociological publishing and in effect is a list of North American bestsellers.

The top 10 most influential books in Australian sociology: the first 40 years

As the above discussion indicates, a judgement about what constitutes the most influential work in sociology is always open to contestation. One thing that we wish to stress about the MIBAS survey is that the nomination and ranking processes were completely open and free of any editorial interference. Thus, the survey results are a reflection of the views of TASA members during a snapshot in time, bounded by a focus on Australian works published between 1963 and 2003.

Given assurances to protect participant anonymity in the voting process, only minimal demographic information about survey respondents can be provided. Twenty-five percent of the TASA membership (129 of 520 members at the time voting closed) voted for their top 10 books. The gender breakdown of voters closely matched that for the membership as a whole, with 63 percent (n = 81) female and 37 percent (n = 48) male; compared to the total female and male TASA membership of 67 percent (n = 346) and 33 percent (n = 174) respectively. Overall, the proportion of people voting from each state and territory was generally representative of the proportions within the TASA membership. It is therefore unlikely that the voter's state produced any biased effects on the outcome.

Inevitably, the MIBAS results reflect the views of only some Australian sociologists, that is, a cohort of sociologists who were TASA members at the time and voluntarily participated in the survey. Given these limitations, Table 5 lists the top 10 books in order of the number of votes received.

Key features of the MIBAS survey results

Sociology is a highly diverse discipline and no listing of the 10 most influential books is likely to capture the heterogeneity of the field. Yet even the most cursory look at the top 10 books reveals a great variety of themes: class, the state and power (Connell, 1977; Pusey, 1991), education (Connell et al., 1982), gender (Connell, 1987, 1995; Summers, 1975; Turner, 1984), work and gender (Game and Pringle, 1983), health (Willis, 1983) and crime (Braithwaite, 1989), as well as the intersections of these topics. In this section we draw attention to some of the interesting features of the MIBAS top 10 list. (4) In particular, we focus our discussion on four issues: the prominence of work by Connell in the top 10, whether there is a distinctly Australian variant of sociology, key topics missing from the top 10, and the issue of date of publication in determining influence. Thus, it is not our ambition to provide a systematic account or review of the top 10 books, as each of these books has already received considerable critical attention and acclaim in the literature. For those unfamiliar with the top 10 books, Table 6 provides a brief summation of their content and argument.

The influence of the author

Undoubtedly the most obvious characteristic of the MIBAS top 10 list is the inclusion of four books by Connell. Connell's intellectual opus is impressive, with 18 books and around 100 refereed journal articles and chapters in edited books. He has made substantial contributions to understanding issues of class, gender, sexuality, the state, power, education, social theory and patterns of social inequality more generally. The outcome of the MIBAS survey leaves no doubt that Connell is one of the most influential Australian sociologists, whose work has clearly shaped debates in the discipline in Australia.

The case of the most influential book in Australian sociology, Connell's (1977) Ruling Class, Ruling Culture, is instructive in terms of the unpredictability of influence. The book received a considerable critical commentary upon publication with reviews in journals as diverse as International Affairs, Contemporary Sociology, American Journal of Sociology, Meanjin and Social Alternatives. It was greeted with considerable enthusiasm in some quarters, but was also a target of criticism, including one claim that the essays in the book were 'partly work-in-progress papers', and simply a preparation for a future 'more comprehensive work' (Szelenyi, 1979:1313). Judging from the citation records provided by the Web of Science, the book is seldom cited in contemporary academic journal articles. The initial critical commentaries notwithstanding, the book's relative present-day obscurity is a reflection of its focus on the Australian class structure of the 1970s, a fact that should not detract from the ultimate impact of the book on Australian sociologists. In hindsight, this is a book that has retained its influence because it sparked considerable academic and public debate, laying the groundwork for later analyses of class in Australian society. Therefore, the number of citations that Ruling Class, Ruling Culture receives in journals today is not necessarily a reflection of the book's lack of influence. In his review of Connell's Ruling Class, Ruling Culture, Gross (1978: 71) concludes: 'Although most of the chapters have appeared before or been presented separately in various places, the whole comes together as a well-articulated argument by a thinker from whom we are likely to hear much more in the future.' Looking at the MIBAS top 10 results, few would disagree that Gross had excellent foresight.

Connell's early work on class, power and gender was published at a time when these issues emerged both on the public and academic agendas, serving to fill a major gap in the Australian literature while also making a significant contribution to international sociological scholarship. His work on class and education, gender and power, and more recently his research on masculinity, has clearly been pioneering. While Connell's popularity derives from a combination of the intellectual depth of his scholarship, his timely research interests and appropriate attention to the interconnectedness of various sociological dimensions and problems, it is also worth noting that he has been an intellectual leader in the broader field of sociology for more than three decades. He has had a visible international stature and an iconic status (and following) among several generations of Australian scholars. Connell has played an active role in TASA and its predecessor SAANZ, having been the President during 1987-8, editor of the ANZJS, and regular participant in the Association's annual sociology conferences.

Is there a distinctly Australian sociology?

The MIBAS process clearly requested the nomination of books that are linked with an Australian sociological production, which raises the question about the interconnectedness between international and local (Australian) sociology. As sociologists, we are aware of global flows of intellectual labour and the international success of some of these books simply reminds us of the intricate nexus between Australian and nonAustralian sociological production. Yet is there such a thing as a distinctly Australian sociology? Or should we simply speak about sociology in Australia? To paraphrase Connell (2004: 7): should we think of ourselves as Max Weber, wearing corks on his hat?

Just as a sociologist in India may be more attuned to issues of caste, or a German sociologist about the legacy of the post-Cold War era; is there something specific informing the repertoire of an Australian sociologist? Even in the nascent days of Australian sociology, Baldock and Lally (1974: 285) pointed to what they saw as the emergence of a distinctive sociological style, because of Australia's unique social mix of 'egalitarianism and bureaucratization', 'the presence of large numbers of ethnic minority groups' and the speed of urbanization. There is no doubt that Australian sociological production, at least to some extent, represents a conscious dialogue with a distinct inheritance of colonial encounters, Indigenous presence, migrant arrivals and status in the region. Given that the institutional rise of the discipline paralleled Australia's post-Second World War project Of nation-building, we suggest there is a case that this particular constellation of historical and political circumstances has given rise to a particular brand of critical sociology, that inherently strives to relate social issues to power, public policy and social reconstruction.

Writing sociology in Australia and taking the specificities of this position seriously is an asset, and the best way to make a mark in the international arena. This is a version of what Connell (2002) has tentatively called 'southern theory'. The books included in the MIBAS list, with the exception of Turner's (1984) theoretical work on Body and Society, clearly attest to this continuing dialogue with an Australian context. But they also have an intentionally broader relevance, such as Braithwaite's (1989) Crime, Shame and Reintegration, Game and Pringle's (1983) Gender at Work or Connell's (1995) Masculinities. Furthermore, almost all authors in the top 10 list have had some limited, if not extensive, experience of academic appointments in other countries. Any imaginings of Australian sociologists as parochial creatures can safely be laid to rest.

What's missing from the list?

The purpose of any exercise involving a selection and ranking of books is to arrive at an exclusive list. Allowing only 10 books to be nominated clearly sets limits to thematic pluralism. Furthermore, the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion are often drawn somewhat arbitrarily (for example, why top 10 and not top 20?). Accepting some degree of arbitrariness, we nevertheless need to take notice of not only what is included, but also--importantly--what remains excluded. One should not read too much into these absences: we suggest that they are indicative of the arbitrariness and limitations of the process rather than symptomatic of the lack of scholarship in these areas.

Nevertheless, one notable absence from the list is the lack of works on Indigenous issues, ethnicity and migration. These themes represent the building blocks of the Australian social landscape and, if Australian sociology wishes to remain relevant, it cannot afford to marginalize their importance. Given that Indigenous status remains a key social marker of inequality, particularly in terms of health, education and employment, and that racism remains a reality of Australian life, the study of Australia's ethnically and culturally diverse society should remain at the forefront of sociological research (see Vasta and Castles, 1996). What is more interesting is that only one nominated book in MIBAS stage 1, which formed the basis for the selection of the top 10, deals with Indigenous issues in any central way. The most likely reason for this is to be sought in the unwritten rules governing the division of labour between sociology and anthropology. This does not mean that sociologists are not interested in Indigenous issues, but that the vast majority of production in the field is confined to journal articles or policy and government reports. The absence of books on migration and ethnicity is perhaps less easy to explain. Migration is inherently connected with the Australian nation-building project and remains one of the key factors in understanding questions of diversity, economic prosperity and social cohesion. Several well-known and influential books were nominated from this field (see Table 1), but did not make it into the top 10, including Martin's (1978) work on post-Second World War immigration, Bottomley's (1979) pioneering work on Greek Australians and the work on Australian identity and nationalism by Castles et al. (1992).

In the early 1970s Baldock and Lally (1974) noted there was an absence of Australian publications that made original theoretical contributions to the field. While the MIBAS top 10 clearly shows this has changed, it is fair to state that substantive theoretical contributions by Australian sociologists tend to appear in academic journals such as Thesis Eleven (given the limited commercial viability of publishing monographs, particularly theoretical ones, in the Australian market). The MIBAS list reflects both theoretical and methodological pluralism, something that has always been characteristic of Australian sociology (see Beilharz, 1995). What the top 10 obscures though, are the significant Australian contributions to urban and community studies such as Bryson and Thompson's (1972) An Australian Newtown, Wild's (1974) Bradstow, Dempsey's (1990) Smalltown, and studies on the welfare state such as those by Bryson (1992) and Baldock and Cass (1983), as well as de Vaus's (2002) internationally recognized methods text, Surveys in Social Research, now in its fifth edition. Again, one could list a number of other themes and books that have been omitted from the MIBAS top 10 list, but this is not our ambition. Such omissions are an integral part of the MIBAS design and will hopefully fuel further discussion among Australian sociologists.

A matter of time

Upon presentation of the MIBAS results at the December 2003 TASA conference, a number of student members of TASA stated that some of these works, particularly the older ones, had eluded their attention and indicated their intention to read some of these books. This response reflects the generational effect that can be observed in the MIBAS list. All books included in the list, excluding multiple editions, were published between 1975 and 1995, which is much less than the allowed framework of 40 years. This is not very surprising, given that only six books from the shortlist (MIBAS stage 1) appeared before 1975 and the recent books, those published after 1995, have had less chance to make an impact. A similar lack of recent works was also clearly apparent in both the ISA survey and the Contemporary Sociology ranking of most influential books.

It is pertinent to note that, unlike the Contemporary Sociology ranking in which all top ranking books were published in the 1970s, the MIBAS top 10 includes books from the 1970s (two), 1980s (six) and 1990s (two), partly reflecting the recent-ness of Australian sociological book production. Worthy of note is that no books published in the 1960s made it into the top 10. Only a small number of Australian sociological books and journal articles had been published up to the 1960s and it was from this period onwards that a marked rise in Australian sociological book publication occurred. One of the earliest Australian books with sociology in its title was Australian Society: A Sociological Introduction, edited by Davies and Encel (1965) - the first local textbook to be published and the only book published in the 1960s to make it into the MIBAS stage 1 list of 66 nominated books (see Table 1). We can only speculate on why no other 1960s books were nominated and, furthermore, why 1980s books dominate the list, and why only two were published in the 1990s. The choice of books probably reflects the age demographic of the MIBAS voting cohort; they are the books that had a significant impact on that cohort's formative years as sociologists. Moreover, it is likely that the perceived 'influence' of a book may take time to develop a critical mass, though there will always be exceptions to the rule, such as Pusey's (1991) Economic Rationalism in Canberra and Connell's (1995) Masculinities.

A final (and partial) explanation for the dominance of books published in the 1980s is that this period can be viewed as a highpoint in Australian sociological book publication. A fascinating feature of the MIBAS top 10 is that half the books were published by Allen and Unwin. We have no space to discuss the role of publishing houses here, though it is fair to say that Allen and Unwin have made the most significant contribution to Australian sociology. While Macmillan, Cheshire and Longman were also notable early publishers of Australian sociology, it was Allen and Unwin (under their Studies in Society series and Women's Studies series) that published by the far the greatest number of books, particularly during the 1980s (Baldock, 1994). From the early 1980s to the late 1990s, Allen and Unwin were responsible for publishing the recipient of TASA's Jean Martin Award (JMA) for the best PhD thesis. The inaugural JMA recipient and book publication was Open Cut (Williams, 1981). In fact, the MIBAS top 10 book Medical Dominance (Willis, 1983) was a JMA recipient.

Concluding comments: benefits and limits of the MIBAS survey

There are several important points about the MIBAS process we want to acknowledge. MIBAS was not conceived as a methodologically representative or comprehensive survey. However, unlike some other attempts at compiling lists of influential sociological books, the MIBAS survey involved an open, democratic and anonymous process of nomination and voting, without any editorial interference. Ultimately, the list of the top 10 most influential books in Australian sociology is a direct reflection of the subjective choices of TASA members, which are likely to reflect the demographics and theoretical affinities of the voting cohort.

MIBAS was envisaged as an attempt to generate discussion about the Australian contribution to the social sciences in general, and sociology in particular, over the past 40 years. It is important to remember that the key criterion for nomination and ranking was the perceived influence of these books, and not whether they were the 'best' and/or exemplary cases of sociological scholarship. It is possible that some people voted for a book based on its perceived influence, particularly on subsequent works in a field, even though they may never have read the actual book themselves. Furthermore, textbooks are absent from the top 10, though their sales, readership and influence are likely to have been significant (nevertheless as Table 1 shows, some textbooks did make it into the stage 1 list of 66 nominated books). One final point worth mentioning is that the MIBAS process excluded journal articles. This is not because journal articles are less significant or influential, but simply because we needed to draw some pragmatic exclusionary boundaries.

MIBAS was not conceived as an attempt to create a 'sociological canon of the Antipodes', although any ranking of this sort inevitably represents a list that includes and excludes simultaneously. There is little doubt that influence correlates with quality (and popularity), but the MIBAS process specifically focused on the assessment of 'influence'. We wanted to compile a list of books that were perceived as meaningful and influential by TASA members. After all, where else could one find more competent judges about Australian sociological scholarship than among the members of TASA? However, there is the possibility that such a process can fetishize the books on the list by legitimizing them as 'the' authoritative texts--imbued with an iconic quality whereby they become cited or regarded as important because they are on the list in the first place (cf. Clawson and Zussman, 1998). Such a view ignores the cult of authority that already exists among some scholars, who pay due deference in their literature reviews via occasionally obsequious and often obligatory references to foundational and contemporary 'classics' (Adatto and Cole, 1981). When it comes to 'classical' sociological tradition most sociologists would perhaps agree that Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel represent the key authors in the sociological tradition (cf. Connell, 1997; Mouzelis, 1997; Parker, 1997). However, to think in terms of sociological canon clearly poses some problems, particularly if more 'modern' sociological tradition is taken into account (see Baehr and O'Brien, 1994; Tucker, 2002). Not even Jonathan Turner's (1997) attempt to talk about 'a canon in motion', sufficiently softens the rigidity traditionally associated with the idea of canon.

In our view, the MIBAS survey presented a valuable opportunity to generate discussion of some influential Australian texts. The publication of the top 10 inevitably puts these books 'on the map' for newer members of the sociological academy and may even spur renewed interest in these works. However, it is no definitive statement, but rather an indicative ranking of influence, in a continuously evolving tradition of Australian sociology.
Table 1: MIBAS stage 1--the 66 nominated books

Altman, D. (1972 and 1993) Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation

Atkinson, J. (2002) Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The
Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia

Baldock, C.V. and B. Cass (1983 and 1988) Women, Social Welfare, and
the State n Australia

Barbalet, J.M. (2001) Emotion, Social Theory and Social Structure: A
Macrosociological Approach

Beilharz, P. (1991) Social Theory: A Guide to Central Thinkers

Bell, D. and R. Klein (1996) Radically Speaking: Feminism Reclaimed

Bennett, T., M. Emmison and J. Frow (1999) Accounting for Tastes:
Australian Everyday Cultures

Bottomley, G. (1979) After the Odyssey: A Study of Greek Australians

Bottomley, G., M. de Lepervanche and J. Martin (1991) Intersexions:
Gender, Class, Culture and Ethnicity

Braithwaite, J. (1989) Crime, Shame and Reintegration

Broom, D. (1991) Damned if We Do: Contradictions in Women's Health Care

Bryson, L. (1992) Welfare and the State: Who Benefits?

Bryson, L. and F. Thompson (1972) An Australian Newtown: Life and
Leadership in a Working-class Suburb

Carrington, K. (1993) Offending Girls: Sex, Youth and Justice

Castles, S., B. Cope, M. Kalantzis and M. Morrissey (1988 and 1992)
Mistaken Identity: Multiculturalism and the Demise of Nationalism in

Cheek, J., J. Shoebridge, E. Willis and M. Zadoroznyj (1996) Society
and Health: Social Theory for Health Workers

Connell, R.W. (1995) Masculinities

Connell, R.W. and T.H. Irving (1980 and 1992) Class Structure in
Australian History: Poverty and Progress

Connell, R.W., D.W. Ashenden, S. Kessler and G.W. Dowsett (1982) Making
the Difference: Schools, Families and Social Division

Connell, R.W. (1977) Ruling Class, Ruling Culture: Studies of Conflict,
Power and Hegemony in Australian Life

Connell, R.W. (1987) Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual

Crook, S., J. Pakulski and M. Waters (1992) Postmodernization: Change
in Advanced Society

Davidson, A. (1997) From Subject to Citizen: Australian Citizenship in
the Twentieth Century

Davies, A.F. and S. Encel (1965, 1970 and 1977) Australian Society: A
Sociological Introduction

Davies, B. (1989) Frogs and Snails and Feminist Tales: Preschool
Children and Gender

De Vaus, D. (1985, 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2002) Surveys in Social

Dempsey, K. (1990) Smalltown: A Study of Social Inequality, Cohesion and

Edwards, A. (1988) Regulation and Repression: The Study of Social

Encel, S. (1970) Equality and Authority: A Study of Class, Status and
Power in Australia

Game, A. and R. Pringle (1984) Gender at Work

Gilding, M. (1997) Australian Families: A Comparative Perspective

Hawthorne, S. (2002) Wild Politics: Feminism, Globalisation,

Kellehear, A. (1996) Social Self, Global Culture: An Introduction to
Sociological Ideas

Lawrence, G. (1987) Capitalism and the Countryside: The Rural Crisis in

Lemert, C. (ed.) (1993 and 1999) Social Theory: The Multicultural and
Classic Readings *

Little, G. (1975) Faces on the Campus: A Psycho-social Study

MacQueen, H. (1970 and 1986) A New Britannia: An Argument Concerning
the Social Origins of Australian Radicalism and Nationalism

Martin, J.I. (1978) The Migrant Presence: Australian Responses
1947-1977: Research Report for the National Population Inquiry

Matthews, J.J. (1984) Good and Mad Women: The Historical Construction
of Femininity in Twentieth-century Australia

McMichael, P. (1984) Settlers and the Agrarian Question: Foundations of
Capitalism in Colonial Australia

O'Connor, J., A. Orloff and S. Shaver (1999) States, Markets, Families:
Gender, Liberalism, and Social Policy in Australia, Canada, Great
Britain, and the United States

Pakulski, J. and M. Waters (1996) The Death of Class

Palmer, G. and S. Short (1989, 1994 and 2000) Health Care and Public
Policy: An Australian Analysis

Pateman, C. (1988) The Sexual Contract

Pringle, R. (1988) Secretaries Talk: Sexuality, Power and Work

Pusey, M. (1991) Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation-building
State Changes its Mind

Richards, L. (1978 and 1985) Having Families: Marriage, Parenthood and
Social Pressure in Australia

Robison, R. (1986) Indonesia: The Rise of Capital

Russell, C. and T. Schofield (1986) Where it Hurts: An Introduction to
Sociology for Health Workers

Sargeant, M. (1983 and 1994) Sociology for Australians / The New
Sociology for Australians

Spender, D. (1980 and 1990) Man Made Language

Summers, A. (1975, 1994 and 2002) Damned Whores and God's Police: The
Colonization of Women in Australia

Theophanous, A. (1995) Understanding Multiculturalism and Australian

Travers, P. and S. Richardson (1993) Living Decently: Material
Well-being in Australia

Turner, B.S. (1984 and 1996) The Body and Society: Explorations in
Social Theory

Turner, B.S. (1987 and 1995) Medical Power and Social Knowledge

Wajcman, J. (1991) Feminism Confronts Technology

Wadsworth, Y. (1984 and 1997) Do it Yourself Social Research

Waters, M. (1994) Modern Sociological Theory

Western, J.S. (1983) Social Inequality in Australian Society

Wild, R.A. (1974 and 1978) Bradstow: A Study of Status, Class and Power
in a Small Australian Town

Williams, C. (1981) Open Cut: The Working Class in an Australian Mining

Willis, E. (1983 and 1989) Medical Dominance: The Division of Labour in
Australian Health Care

Wooden, M., R. Holton, G. Hugo and J. Sloan (1990 and 1994) Australian
Immigration: A Survey of the Issues

Yeatman, A. (1990) Bureaucrats, Technocrats, Femocrats: Essays on the
Contemporary Australian State

Yeatman, A. (1994) Postmodern Revisionings of the Political

* Even though this book did not meet the MIBAS criteria, it remained
in the list to maintain the spirit of editorial non-interference.

Table 2: The Contemporary Sociology top 10 books

T. Skocpol (1979) States and Revolution

H. Braverman (1976) Labour and Monopoly

C. Geertz (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures

P. Bourdieu (1972) Outline of a Theory of Practice

N. Chodorow (1978) Reproduction of Mothering

W.J. Wilson (1978) The Declining Significance of Race

E. Said (1978) Orientalism

M. Foucault (1977) Discipline and Punish

I. Wallerstein (1976) The Modern World System, vol. 1

Boston Women's Health Collective (1973) Our Bodies, Ourselves

Source: Adapted from Contemporary Sociology (1996)

Table 3: The ISA top 10 books

M. Weber (1922) Economy and Society

C. Wright Mills (1959) The Sociological Imagination

R.K. Merton (1949) Social Theory and Social Structure

M. Weber (1905) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

P.L. Berger and T. Luckmann (1967) The Social Construction of Reality

P. Bourdieu (1979) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of

N. Elias (1939) The Civilizing Process

J. Habermas (1981) The Theory of Communicative Action

T. Parsons (1937) The Structure of Social Action

E. Goffman (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

Source: Adapted from ISA (1998)

Table 4: The top 10 North American sociology 'bestsellers'

D. Riesman, N. Glazer and R. Denney (1950) The Lonely Crowd

E. Liebow (1967) Tally's Corner

P. Slater (1970) Pursuit of Loneliness

R. Sennett (1977) Fall of Public Man

W. Ryan (1971) Blaming the Victim

R. Bellah et al. (1985) Habits of the Heart

S. Lipset (1960) Political Man

L. Rubin (1976) Worlds of Pain

L. Rubin (1983) Intimate Strangers

N. Glazer and D. Moynihan (1963) Beyond the Melting Pot

Source: Adapted from Gans (1997a)

Table 5: The top 10 most influential books in Australian sociology,

R.W. Connell (1977) Ruling Class, Ruling Culture: Studies of Conflict,
Power and Hegemony in Australian Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University

M. Pusey (1991) Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation-building
State Changes its Mind. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

A. Summers (1975, 1994 and 2002) Damned Whores and God's Police: The
Colonization of Women in Australia. Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin.

R.W. Connell (1987) Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual
Politics. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

R.W. Connell (1995) Masculinities. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

R.W. Connell, D.W. Ashenden, S. Kessler and G.W. Dowsett (1982) Making
the Difference: Schools, Families and Social Division. Sydney: George
Allen and Unwin.

B. Turner (1984 and 1996) The Body and Society: Explorations in Social
Theory. London: Sage.

A. Game and R. Pringle (1983) Gender at Work. Sydney: George Allen and

E. Willis (1983 and 1989) Medical Dominance: The Division of Labour in
Australian Health Care. Sydney: George Allen and Unwin.

J. Braithwaite (1989) Crime, Shame and Reintegration. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Table 6: Brief overview of the MIBAS top 10

Ruling Class, Ruling Culture: Studies of Conflict, Power and Hegemony in Australian Life

The book was published in the aftermath of the dramatic removal of the Whitlam government in 1975; and in the midst of renewed interest in neo-Marxist analyses among Australian sociologists, to which Ruling Class, Ruling Culture made a significant contribution. As Robert (Bob) Connell himself notes in the preface to the book, 'There is hardly a clearer case, in the recent history of the "western democracies", of the way a threatened ruling class is able to mobilize fragments of state power, business connections, financial resources, and the legitimacy given to them by the dominant culture, in a campaign to remove an offending government.' Part 1 of the book examines the concept of class in Australian social science and then analyses the structure of, and conflict in, the ruling class, focusing on the period of the early 1970s. Part 2 is a collection of essays on ruling culture, focusing on the emergence of class consciousness through socialization, including some observations about the role that the media play in the formation of class consciousness.

Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation-building State Changes its Mind

Michael Pusey's book is based on empirical research with members of Canberra's elite Senior Executive Service. The book was not only responsible for making 'economic rationalism' part of the Australian vernacular, his analysis brought the 'bureaucrats back in' to theorizing the formation of public policy and the exercise of state power. In doing so, he exposed the retreat from Keynesian welfarism in Australia through the dominance of economic rationalist views in the key central agencies of Treasury, Finance, and Prime Minister and Cabinet--foreshadowing the rise of neo-liberalism over the next decade.

Damned Whores and God's Police: The Colonization of Women in Australia

Anne Summers' book exposes how Australian women have traditionally been rendered invisible and denied recognition for the crucial role they have played in Australian history. Summers attributes this to the patriarchal portrayal of women throughout history as two extremes; either as 'damned whores' (convict women in the early stages of white colonial settlement), or as 'God's police' (respectable women who represented the graceful guardians of morality and decency). First published in 1975, the book is still in print (in a third revised edition published in 2002)--a testament to its continuing influence.

Gender and Power: Society, the Person, and Sexual Politics

The second book by Connell among the top 10 addressed the controversies that emerged in feminist scholarship on issues of sexual violence, gay liberation, patriarchy and theories of gender and sexual politics. Crucially, Connell argues that the examination of gender and gender politics should not be seen as exclusive domains for women and gay men, but also for heterosexual men. This theoretically and politically ambitious book mapped a new terrain for the understanding of femininity and masculinity, and the interplay between the two, as well as outlining new possibilities for the men's movement and sexual politics in general.


Connell continues his opus on gender, presenting masculinity as continuously changing and historically contextualized, intersected by class, ethnicity, race and sexual orientation. The book contains intense theoretical excursuses as well as illustrative case studies of four groups of Australian men. It is one of the key texts in the field in Australia and internationally, and has been translated into Italian, Swedish, German, Spanish and Japanese.

Making the Difference: Schools, Families and Social Division

The book was a result of a collaborative effort by Bob Connell, Dean Ashenden, Sue Kessler and Gary Dowsett, and represents a seminal study of Australian secondary schooling. It depicts the complex and intricate ways in which class inequality in the schooling system is generated, sustained and reproduced. The authors clearly show that schools can 'make a difference', and that they play a crucial role in reproducing class relations and social structures.

The Body and Society: Explorations in Social Theory

Bryan Turner argues that the 'body', an antithesis to 'spirit' and 'reason', should become the focus of sociological analysis--a crucial site in which social, cultural and political issues intersect. According to Turner, we live in a 'somatic society' in which myriad individual and political problems are experienced and expressed through the body. Thus, the body is not only a continuing topos of medical intervention and social regulation, but is also integral to struggles over identity politics. Originally published in 1984 while Turner was in Australia, with the second 1996 edition published while he was TASA President, the book played a major part in placing the body at the centre of sociological analysis.

Gender at Work

Ann Game and Rosemary Pringle explore how the social construction of gender and gender relations are central features of the organization and experience of work. The book has played a major role in shaping the contemporary understanding of the relationship between gender, the labour process and technological change. It contains a number of case studies of manufacturing, nursing, banking, the retail trade, computing and housework, which are used to demonstrate gender-related changes and processes in the micro-cosmos of the workplace.

Medical Dominance: The Division of Labour in Australian Health Care

Evan Willis's book provides an account of the rise of the medical profession in Australia and its history of demarcation struggles with other health professions. It investigates how the field of health practice is embedded in the structures of contemporary capitalism, its class system, and heavily interdependent with the field of technological development. The book reminds us that any discussion of medical dominance reflects, and is dependent upon, a long historical process of production and reproduction, and that health practice is subjected to continuous processes of inclusion, exclusion, subordination, limitation and contestation.

Crime, Shame and Reintegration

John Braithwaite's book is one of the key contributions to contemporary criminological theory. He shows how shame can be used as a crime control mechanism and distinguishes between two types of shaming. The first type leads to stigmatization, whereas the second type fulfils a reintegrative function--it shames and sends signals of disapproval, yet it also maintains bonds of respect and ultimately leads to the possibility of social reintegration. It is argued that if shaming is done in a culturally sensitive way, it can become a powerful and efficient form of social control.

Biographical notes

Zlatko Skrbis is TASA Vice-President and a Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. His research interests include nationalism, immigration and ethnicity in the context of transnational mobilities. His publications include Long-distance Nationalism: Diasporas, Homelands and Identities (1999, Ashgate). Address: School of Social Science, University of Queensland, QLD 4702, Australia. [email:]

John Germov is TASA President and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Newcastle. Recent publications include: A Sociology of Food and Nutrition: The Social Appetite (with L. Williams, 2004, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press) and Second Opinion: An Introduction to Health Sociology (2002, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press). Address: School of Social Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia. [email:]


We wish to thank Tara McGee for her assistance throughout the MIBAS nomination and ranking processes, and particularly her help with the demographic data on the MIBAS voters and the TASA membership.

1 TASA members could vote for up to 10 books in rank order from the list of 66 nominated books; meaning that not everyone voted for 10 books. For example, it was possible for voters to rank their top 3 or 5 books, up to a maximum of 10.

2 Full details of the MIBAS process, including the original list of 66 books and a downloadable poster of the top 10, can be found on the TASA website:

3 The only Australian Editorial Board member of Contemporary Sociology was John Braithwaite, whose book is one of the top most influential books in Australian sociology, according to the MIBAS survey.

4 Given the nature of the MIBAS survey, it is problematic to offer other than general speculative comments about why the top 10 books were considered influential by TASA members. We do not see it as our task to offer justifications or evaluations of the importance of each of these works. We are also not concerned with a possible discrepancy between the perceived influence of these works as reported in MIBAS and the more objectively verifiable significance of these books through alternative means, such as citation indices.


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Zlatko Skrbis School of Social Science, University of Queensland

John Germov School of Social Sciences, University of Newcastle
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