Charles Lemert

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Charles Lemert (born 1937) is an American born social theorist and sociologist. He has written extensively on social theory, globalization and culture. He has contributed to many key debates in social thought, authoring dozens of books including his best-selling text Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), which the historian Howard Zinn, the author of A People's History of the United States, has called "one of those rare ruminations on the human condition that makes you want to return to it after your first reading to ponder its ideas." He teaches at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and lives in New Haven, Connecticut with his family.

Lemert is distinguished as a theorist in the US, most notably for introducing French theory to American sociology. His first book Sociology and the Twilight of Man: Homocentrism and Discourse in Sociological Theory (Southern Illinois University Press, 1979) drew from theoretical contributions of the likes of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida in order to critique humanism in sociological theory. His article "Language, Structure, and Measurement: Structuralist Semiotics and Sociology" (1979) published in the American Journal of Sociology and his French Sociology: Rupture and Renewal since 1968 (Columbia University Press, 1981), which brought together scholarly contributions from leading French intellectuals, and Michel Foucault: Social Theory as Transgression (Columbia University Press, 1982) co-authored with Garth Gillan, helped to set in stone his reputation as the leading sociological interpreter of French theory.

Lemert is also known for his best-selling instructional texts:Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings (Westview Press, 2004) and Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life(Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). More recently, he authored Thinking the Unthinkable: The Riddles of Classical Social Theories (Paradigm Publishers, 2007).

Lately, he has written on a wide range of subjects. His most recent works have dealt with globalization and culture. His The New Individualism (Routledge, 2005) written with Anthony Elliott, explores the figure of the individual looking at the emotional costs of globalization. His Durkheim's Ghosts(Cambridge University Press, 2006) reclaims the legacy of the early sociologist to offer a radical different intellectual trajectory than those who have recently taken ownership of Émile Durkheim, namely the strong program of cultural sociology espoused by sociologist Jeffrey C. Alexander. He is currently at work on a book on Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr for Yale University Press and a reader on globalization (with Anthony Elliott) for Routledge.

He maintains a column called Slow Thoughts for Fast Times for the online journal Fast Capitalism and edits the Great Barrington Books series for Paradigm Publishers and New Social Formations series for Rowman & Littlefield.



Lemert received his PhD from Harvard University in 1972 after completing work at Andover Newton Theological School and Miami University in Ohio. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West of England in 2004.


Lemert is a former John C. Andrus Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University, where he taught from 1982-2010, and teaches at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. Also, he is Visiting Professor of Sociology at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Before that he was Professor of Sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale from 1977-1981. He has also held several visiting scholarships at various institutions, including Centre de Sociologie Européenne: Education et Culture, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Centre d'Etudes Sociologiques, Columbia University, and MIT.

Recent works[edit]

  • Thinking the Unthinkable: The Riddles of Classical Social Theories (Paradigm Publishers, 2007)
  • Durkheim’s Ghosts: Cultural Logics and Social Things (Cambridge University Press, 2006)
  • The Souls of W.E.B. Du Bois, with Alford A. Young, Jr., Jerry G. Watts, Manning Marable & Elizabeth Higginbotham (Boulder & London: Paradigm Publishers, 2006)
  • Deadly Worlds: The Emotional Costs of Globalization, with Anthony Elliott (Rowman & Littlefield NA, 2006; world rights: Routledge, UK, 2005 as The New Individualism)
  • Social Things (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005; 3e revised & enlarged; 2005). 2e 2001; 1e 1997. German and Danish editions, 2004
  • Postmodernism Is Not What You Think (Paradigm Publishers, 2005; 2e revised & enlarged; forthcoming) Original publisher: Blackwell, 1997. Portuguese/Brazilian Edition, 2001; with a new preface
  • Sociology After the Crisis (Paradigm Publishers, 2004; 2e revised & enlarged). Original publisher: Perseus Books, 1995-2002

External links[edit]