Cornell University

June 21 2010

Best Book Award

Lawler's Social Commitments in a Depersonalized World to be honored.

Social Commitments in a Depersonalized WorldA book by Professor Edward J. Lawler has won the 2008-2009 Best Book Award from the Rationality and Society Section of the American Sociological Association.

Social Commitments in a Depersonalized World was published in 2009 by the Russell Sage Foundation. Lawler's coauthors were Shane Thye, Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina, and Jeongkoo Yoon, School of Business, Ewha University, South Korea.

The best book honor is given every two years.

The book has also been recognized with an honorable mention by the association’s Sociology of Emotions Section.

The association's Rationality and Society Section and the Sociology of Emotions Section are considered "very different intellectual subfields within sociology, and one of the aims of the book was to bridge these fields," Lawler said in an interview.

Lawler will receive the awards at the association's annual meetings in August in Atlanta, Ga.

Cornell's Martin P. Catherwood Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations, Lawler is a former dean of ILR. This past year, he was chair of the university's Strategic Planning Advisory Council.

Social Commitments in a Depersonalized World proposes a theory of social commitments that shows how people form group ties in a world where they increasingly have transactional associations based, not on collective interests, but on what provides the greatest personal advantage.

The book indicates that recurring interactions -- virtual or face to face -- and group projects that make people feel good promote affective attachments to groups such as work teams, companies, unions, volunteer associations, local communities and nations.

The central theme is that people experience emotions or feelings as they interact with each other and they associate those feelings with groups, especially when they engage in joint tasks that give them a strong sense of shared responsibility.