||This biographical article is written like a résumé. (August 2010)|
Randall Collins, Ph.D. (born 1941, Knoxville, Tennessee) is an American sociologist who is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History journal. He is a leading contemporary social theorist whose areas of expertise include the macro-historical sociology of political and economic change; micro-sociology, including face-to-face interaction; and the sociology of intellectuals and social conflict. He is considered to be one of the leading non-Marxist conflict theorists in the United States.
- 1963 A.B., Harvard College
- 1964 M.A., Psychology, Stanford University
- 1969 Ph.D., Sociology, University of California Berkeley
Collins spent a good deal of his early years in Europe where his father was part of military intelligence during WWII and also a member of the state department. Collins attended a New England prep school, afterward studying at Harvard and University of California Berkeley, where he encountered the work of Herbert Blumer and Erving Goffman who were professors at Berkeley at the time. He completed his Ph.D in 1969 and has taught at numerous universities such as University of Virginia, the Universities of California Riverside and San Diego and has been a visiting professor at Chicago, Harvard, Cambridge as well as various schools in Europe, Japan and China. He is currently teaching at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Collins is a social scientist who views theory as essential to understanding the world. He is quoted as saying "The essence of science is precisely theory...a generalized and coherent body of ideas, which explain the range of variations in the empirical world in terms of general principles.." This is Collins' way of examining the social world, emphasizing the role and interaction of larger social structures.
Macro-Historical Sociology of Political and Economic Change
- Macro-History: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run , focuses on the relationship between military geopolitics and state expansion and breakdown, including causes of changing ethnic and national identities; structural determinants of democracy; and Collins’s 1980 prediction of the breakdown of the Russian empire.
Micro-Sociology: Face-to-Face Interaction
- Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory  examines situations in which violence happens or fails to happen, using data from photos and videos as well as close ethnographic observations. Collins explores the micro-techniques and contingencies through which some people win, lose, are stalemated, or keep their distance.
Sociology of Intellectuals (sociology of Philosophies)
- A Global Theory of Intellectual Change , analyzes networks of philosophers and mathematicians over two thousand years in both Asian and Western societies, showing how different types of network patterns produce higher and lower levels of creative innovation in ideas.
Social Conflict (Especially Violent Conflict)
The Sociological Eye
- In it he focuses on a means of looking at things for what they are, as best we can given the blinders of interest and ideology, of cliché and ritualized belief. It is not an individual enterprise. Chaining our efforts together as a long-term network of theorists and researchers improves one’s own sociological vision, provided we make the effort. The sociological eye holds up a periscope above the tides of political and intellectual partisanship, spying out the patterns of social life in every direction.
Interaction Ritual Chains
- Collins argues sex, smoking, and social stratification and much else in our social lives are driven by a common force: interaction rituals. Interaction Ritual Chains is a major work of sociological theory that attempts to develop a "radical microsociology." It proposes that successful rituals create symbols of group membership and pump up individuals with emotional energy, while failed rituals drain emotional energy. Each person flows from situation to situation, drawn to those interactions where their cultural capital gives them the best emotional energy payoff. Thinking, too, can be explained by the internalization of conversations within the flow of situations; individual selves are thoroughly and continually social, constructed from the outside in.
Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory
- In the popular misconception fostered by blockbuster action movies and best-selling thrillers—not to mention conventional explanations by social scientists—violence is easy under certain conditions, like poverty, racial or ideological hatreds, or family pathologies. Randall Collins challenges this view in Violence, arguing that violent confrontation goes against human physiological hardwiring. It is the exception, not the rule—regardless of the underlying conditions or motivations.
The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change
- A social history of global intellectual life. Collins gives a sophisticated view of the multiple cultures of world history, disintegrates stereotypes of regional cultures, and reveals how creativity is driven by a range of conflicting positions in each community. We see what is sociologically universal about Western, Indian, and Asian intellectual life, as well as what combinations of social ingredients have produced their divergent pathways. Through network diagrams and sustained narrative, Randall Collins traces the development of philosophical thought in China, Japan, India, ancient Greece, the medieval Islamic and Jewish world, medieval Christendom, and modern Europe. What emerges from this history is a general theory of intellectual life, one that avoids both the reduction of ideas to the influences of society at large and the purely contingent local construction of meanings. Instead, Collins focuses on the social locations where sophisticated ideas are formed: the patterns of intellectual networks and their inner divisions and conflicts.
Collins other important books include The Discovery of Society 8th Edition, Four Sociological Traditions , Sociological Insight: An Introduction to Non-Obvious Sociology, Sociology of Marriage and the Family: Gender, Love, and Property, Max Weber: A Skeleton Key (The Masters of Sociological Theory),Conflict Sociology: A Sociological Classic Updated (Studies in Comparative Social Science) 
- 2008. Violence. A micro-sociological Theory. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-13313-1
- 2004. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12389-6
- 2004. “Rituals of solidarity and security, and processes of mass hysteria, in the wake of terrorist attack.” Sociological Theory 21
- 2003. “A Network-location Theory of Culture.” Sociological Theory 21: 69-73.
- 2003. “Fuller, Kuhn, and the Emergent Attention Space of Reflexive Studies of Science.” Social Epistemology 17: 145-150.
- 2003. “Sociology and Philosophy.” in Craig Calhoun, Chris Rojek, and Bryan Turner (eds.) International Handbook of Sociology. London: Sage.
- 2003. “The Durkheimian Movement in France and in World Sociology.” in Jeffrey Alexander and Phil Smith (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Durkheim. Cambridge University Press.
- 2003. “Mann’s Transformation of the Classical Sociological Traditions.” In John A. Hall and Ralph Schroeder (eds.), An Anatomy of Power: The Social Theory of Michael Mann. Cambridge University Press.
- 2002. “Introduction.” with Mauro Guillen, Paula England, Marshall Meyer. in The New Economic Sociology: Developments in an Emerging Field. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
- 2002. "On the Acrimoniousness of Intellectual Disputes". Common Knowledge 8: 47-70.
- 2002. "Geopolitics in an Era of Internationalism." Social Evolution and History Journal. Vol. 1, pp. 118–139.
- 2002. "Conflict Theory and Interaction Ritual: the Microfoundations of Conflict Theory." (with Jörg Rössel) In Jonathan Turner (ed.), Handbook of Sociological Theories. New York: Plenum Publishers.
- 2002. "Credential Inflation and the Future of Universities." In Steve Brint (ed.), The Future of the City of Intellect. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Excerpted in Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 2002.
- 2002. "Black’s Contributions to a General Theory of Conflict." [review essay] Contemporary Sociology 31: 655-58.
- 2000. "Comparative and historical patterns of education." In Maureen T. Hallinan (ed.), Handbook of the Sociology of Education. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 213-239.
- 2000. "Situational Stratification: A Micro-macro Theory of Inequality." Sociological Theory 18
- 1999. "Macro-History: Essays in Sociology of the Long Run." Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- 1998. "The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change." Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University. ISBN 0-674-00187-7 (Russian edition 2002. Italian, Chinese, and Spanish editions forthcoming. Esmail Yazdanpour is now translating it into Persian.)
- 1998. "Democratization in World-Historical Perspective." In Ralph Schroeder Weberian Political Sociology: Democracy, Nationalism and Modernization. London: Macmillan.
- 1985-1994. "Four Sociological Traditions." Oxford University Press, Inc. ISBN 0-19-508208-7.
- 1979. "The Credential Society: An Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification." New York : Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-181360-6.
- 1975. "Conflict Sociology: Toward an Explanatory Science." New York: Academic.
- Collins, Randall. "UPenn Almanac, Vol. 51". Retrieved April 12, 2005.
- Hurn, Christopher J. The Limits and Possibilities of Schooling.
- Allan, Kenneth (2006). Contemporary Social & Sociological Theory. ISBN 978-1412913621.
- Collins, Randall. "University of Pennsylvania". Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Collins, Randall. "University of Pennsylvania". Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Collins, Randall. "University of Pennsylvania".
- Collins, Randall. The Sociological Eye.
- Allan, Kenneth (2006). Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory: Visualzing Social Worlds.
- "Romero Moñivas, Jesús (2013) "Unifying the micro and macro leves. A comprehensive introduction to the sociology of Randall Collins"