Book cover for 'The Social Animal'
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The Social Animal

W. G. Runciman
What kind of social animal are we? A provocative and stimulating answer


W. G. Runciman's masterly book sets out the present extent of our knowledge about how human groups, communities, institutions, and societies work and the social forces that act upon people who live within them. In a brief span, Runciman conveys both how fascinating the study of society is and what a particularly exciting time this is for that study, with all the developments being made in the behavioral sciences, whether in demography, linguistics, or economics, or in genetics, biological anthropology, and developmental and cognitive psychology. The linking theme of the book is an approach to sociology based not on the outdated dogmas of Marxism or Social Darwinism but on current neo-evolutionary theory.

W. G. Runciman is Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge, a Fellow of the British Academy, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His previous books include Relative Deprivation and Social Justice, A Critique of Max Weber's Philosophy of Social Science, and his three-volume A Treatise on Social Theory. He is also Chairman of the shipping group Andrew Weir & Co. Ltd. and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Services Authority. He chaired the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in England and Wales 1991-93.

Praise / Awards

  • "For clarity, economy and wit, The Social Animal could hardly be bettered as a civilized introduction to its subject. . . . A polished, provocative manifesto."
  • "Concise and well-written: one reaches the end wanting more."
    —Samuel Brittan, Financial Times
  • "[Runciman] writes with energy, elegance and lucidity. . . . [His] book is always good and at times brilliant. On every page there is something to stimulate, engross or madden the reader, and for once the reviewer's cliché, 'continuously absorbing' expresses the truth."
    —Frank McLynn, Literary Review
  • "Erudite and entertaining; the author has lost none of his ability to provoke and stimulate."
    —Julian LeGrand, New Statesman

Product Details

  • 5-1/4 x 8.
  • 240pp.
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Sales Restrictions

Our edition is available in Canada, United States


  • Hardcover
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09730-2

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  • $89.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06730-5

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  • $30.95 U.S.