Making Sense of Christopher Dawson

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Book Chapter

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Christopher Dawson identified with sociology, wrote extensively for the original Sociological Review, was a stalwart of the Sociological Society in the interwar years, achieved international recognition as a sociologist, engaged with Karl Mannheim and the Moot, and in the postwar period defended meta-history and the sociologically oriented historical work of people like Marc Bloch. He ultimately became regarded as the greatest Catholic historian of the twentieth century, and became a Harvard Professor and a cult figure for American and European Catholics. This paper describes this remarkable trajectory, his absence from the later self-understanding of British sociology, and his key ideas, including his Bellah-like account of the axial age and his extensive response to Weber’s Protestant Ethic and to the extension of these ideas in Ernst Troetlsch.

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Making Sense of Christopher Dawson, in P. Panayotova (Ed.), The History of Sociology in Britain, Palgrave Macmillan, p. 64-84