“Smith extends his careful work on the individual, as presented in What Is a Person?, to demonstrate the insufficiency of human motivation and agency in the work of social scientists, in particular sociologists. . . . Smith’s careful readings of Marx and sociologists Goffman and Durkheim reveal how their reductionist readings of human motivation cannot account for why humans act or fail to flourish. Smith then sets out a careful theory about the sorts of needs humans must satisfy in order to flourish and the ways that these needs structure human action. This major work in sociological theory should be read by social scientists in all disciplines. Highly recommended.”
“To Flourish or Destruct poses a powerful and important challenge to the entire discipline of sociology. Smith is becoming the anchor of a humanist renewal in sociology and although he is not alone in this movement, what makes To Flourish or Destruct different is a coherent, new, oppositional perspective that draws on critical realism to affirm both human personhood and the ever-present moral element in human affairs. Smith’s Personalism could become the banner around which a very different kind of sociology develops, one that respects the centered consciousness that is human personhood.”
(Douglas Porpora, Drexel University)
“Speaking in a voice of common sense and reasonableness, and using everyday language, Smith blasts apart most of the assumptions of modern social science and relativism and sets up an alternative scaffolding of moral realism and the theoretical position he calls Personalism. This book represents a major advance in sociology and more specifically within critical realism, which is gradually emerging as a full-fledged alternative in the social sciences. I am fundamentally convinced by this book.”
(George Steinmetz, University of Michigan)
About the Author
Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Sociology, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society, and director of the Center for Social Research at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers and Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture.