American Sociological Association

Visualizing Bring-backs

The figure plots the number of articles that have attempted to “bring” something “back in” in the social sciences by publication year and number of citations. Andrew Abbott, taking a (pessimistic) sociology of knowledge perspective, identified this tendency—beginning with Homans’s classic article “Bringing Men Back in”—as emblematic of the tendency to rediscover old ideas in sociology. The plot shows that “bring-backs” did not become a common yearly occurrence until the mid to late 1990s but are now relatively frequent. The most successful bring-backs have been relatively abstract things such as the “state” and “society” and more recently, “culture,” “knowledge,” and “values.”


Omar Lizardo, Dustin S. Stoltz, Marshall A. Taylor, and Michael Lee Wood