Sociologický časopis
Czech sociological review


← Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review 3/2015

Robin R. Das, Hermann Strasser:
The Sociologist from Marienbad: Werner Stark between Catholicism and Social Science [417]

Das, Robin R., Hermann Strasser. 2015. „The Sociologist from Marienbad: Werner Stark between Catholicism and Social Science.“ Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review 51 (3): 417-444,

Abstract: This paper examines the life and career of the prominent sociologist Werner Stark (1909–1985), born and raised in Marienbad, Bohemia, and after 1918 in the multi-ethnic state of Czechoslovakia. As a prolific and wide-ranging scholar whose many works failed to find an enduring place in American sociology, Stark is a prime example of academic marginalisation. The authors analyse Stark’s major contributions from the standpoint of the sociology of knowledge. They argue that his ideas regarding human nature, the need for social discipline, and the desirability of community were rooted in a pervasive biographical marginality that found resolution in his conversion to Catholicism. In turn, these ideas reinforced the marginality from which they emerged. The reception of Stark’s work in the United States was governed by a perceived incompatibility of his outlook with the assumptions and goals of his American audience. In particular, Stark offered an explicitly value-directed sociology, one which asserted the importance of social order, individual discipline, and universal community, at a time (the 1960s and 1970s) when the field sought to maintain its credibility as an objective scientific discipline in the face of growing challenges from sociologists and non-sociologists alike. Stark’s American colleagues focused on aspects of his work that were incompatible with their own cultural and disciplinary orientations and this obscured the full range of his achievements, especially his analyses which anticipated contemporary sociological work.

Keywords: Werner Stark, marginalisation, religion, culture, social bond, values, sociology of knowledge, Catholicism

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