Handbook of the Sociology of Morality

  • Steven Hitlin
  • Stephen Vaisey

Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Sociological Perspectives on Morality (“What Is It”?)

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Steven Hitlin, Stephen Vaisey
      Pages 3-14
    3. Raymond Boudon
      Pages 15-33
    4. Christopher Powell
      Pages 35-56
    5. Edward A. Tiryakian
      Pages 73-93
    6. Anne Warfield Rawls
      Pages 95-121
  3. Sociological Contexts (“Where Does It Come From?”)

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 123-123
    2. Frederick F. Wherry
      Pages 147-161
    3. Andrew Sayer
      Pages 163-178
    4. Carol A. Heimer
      Pages 179-202
    5. Robert Jackall
      Pages 203-209
    6. Per-Olof H. Wikström
      Pages 211-239
    7. Christopher D. Bader, Roger Finke
      Pages 241-254
    8. Wayne Baker
      Pages 255-274
    9. Jeffrey S. Dill, James Davison Hunter
      Pages 275-291
  4. Morality in Action (“How Does It Work?”)

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 313-313
    2. Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, Kyle Irwin, Michael Schultz, Brent Simpson
      Pages 315-330
    3. Karen A. Hegtvedt, Heather L. Scheuerman
      Pages 331-360
    4. Rengin Firat, Chad Michael McPherson
      Pages 361-384
    5. Jan E. Stets
      Pages 385-409
    6. Gabriel Ignatow
      Pages 411-424
    7. Jal Mehta, Christopher Winship
      Pages 425-438
    8. Mary Blair-Loy
      Pages 439-453
    9. Brian Steensland
      Pages 455-468
    10. Leslie T. Roth
      Pages 469-484
    11. Rebekah P. Massengill, Amy Reynolds
      Pages 485-501
    12. Jason J. Turowetz, Douglas W. Maynard
      Pages 503-526
  5. Future Directions for Sociological Science

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 527-527
    2. Sabine Frerichs, Richard Münch
      Pages 529-548
    3. Steven Lukes
      Pages 549-560
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 585-595

About this book


Human beings necessarily understand their social worlds in moral terms, orienting their lives, relationships, and activities around socially-produced notions of right and wrong.

Morality is sociologically understood as more than simply helping or harming others; it encompasses any way that individuals form understandings of what behaviors are better than others, what goals are most laudable, and what "proper" people believe, feel, and do. Morality involves the explicit and implicit sets of rules and shared understandings that keep human social groups intact. Morality includes both the "shoulds" and "should nots" of human activity, its proactive and inhibitive elements.

At one time, sociologists were centrally concerned with morality, issues like social cohesion, values, the goals and norms that structure society, and the ways individuals get socialized to reproduce those concerns. In the last half-century, however, explicit interest in these topics has waned, and modern sociology has become uninterested in these matters and morality has become marginalized within the discipline.

But a resurgence in the topic is happening in related disciplines – psychology, neurology, philosophy, and anthropology - and in the wider national discourse. Sociology has much to offer, but is not fully engaged in this conversation. Many scholars work on areas that would fall under the umbrella of a sociology of morality but do not self-identify in such a manner, nor orient their efforts toward conceptualizing what we know, and should know, along these dimensions.

The Handbook of the Sociology of Morality fills a niche within sociology making explicit the shared concerns of scholars across the disciplines as they relate to an often-overlooked dimension of human social life. It is unique in social science as it would be the first systematic compilation of the wider social structural, cultural, cross-national, organizational, and interactional dimension of human moral (understood broadly) thought, feeling, and behavior.


Altruism American Values Ethics Moral Moral Development Moral Relativism Nation Religion and Morality Social Justice Social Movements Social Order Social Stratification Sociological Theory

Editors and affiliations

  • Steven Hitlin
    • 1
  • Stephen Vaisey
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. SociologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2., Department of SociologyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Bibliographic information