The most recent proponents of this sociology stress intimate familiarity with the experiences of everyday life. Two books published in 1970 identified the new sociology. Jack Douglas's collection of readings on Understanding Everyday Life distinguished the traditional sociologies from a range of newer ones, while Stanford M. Lyman and Marvin B. Scott's A Sociology of the Absurd provided essays on such topics as time, space, and accounts, which highlighted the new approach and its areas of inquiry. More recent works such as Jack Douglas and J. Johnson's Existential Sociology (1977) and J. Kortaba and A. Fontana's The Existential Self in Society (1984) take this position further.
Existential sociology claims to study human beings in their natural settings and in all their complexities, most importantly incorporating their brute bodies and feelings into the picture, two areas that are often neglected elsewhere in sociology. It looks, for example, at chronic pain.
To date very few sociologists have followed in this tradition, and it has many critics who accuse it of creating yet another schism, of avoiding the central concerns of classical sociology, and of vulgarizing the tradition of existential philosophy developed in Europe. See also EXISTENTIALISM.
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