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Tuckett, D. (2003). The social edges of psychoanalysis By Neil J Smelser. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: Univ. of California Press. Pp. 263. 1st edn. 1998.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(2):481-485.

(2003). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 84(2):481-485

The social edges of psychoanalysis By Neil J Smelser. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: Univ. of California Press. Pp. 263. 1st edn. 1998.

Review by:
David Tuckett

Neil Smelser is a very distinguished sociologist, University Professor at the University of California, a past president of the American Sociological Association, and formerly Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. This book contains an account of his various contacts with psychoanalysis and his attempts at interdisciplinary synthesis. Smelser began his career as an undergraduate at Harvard (1948-52), where, after graduating, and after a visit to Oxford to study economics, he collaborated with Talcott Parsons to develop a sociological understanding of economics. He was a member of that generation of intelligent and thoughtful social scientists of the very first rank (among them Parsons, Clyde Kluckholm, Gardner Lindzey and Robert Bales), who pushed their own discipline forward and took part in a university culture in which psychoanalytic ideas and therapy were ‘the unofficial but dominant currency’, both at social gatherings and in the Harvard Department of Social Relations. When he moved to Berkeley in the 1960s, Smelser trained as a psychoanalyst at the San Francisco Institute. He worked in the UC Berkeley student counselling service and collaborated intellectually with Robert Wallerstein and Erik Erikson. Throughout his career Smelser has been very active in university administration, and he engaged with student radicals in the 1960s and affirmative action in the 1990s—on which some of these papers reflect.

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