AbstractOver the course of the past half century sociologists of developing societies have achieved the all but impossible feat of rendering themselves marginal to both mainstream development theory and contemporary sociology. This article offers a diagnosis and a prescription. On the one hand, it traces the halting progress of development sociology to a lack of disciplinary self-confidence that manifested itself in an unacknowledged tendency to imitate – rather than challenge – mainstream economic perspectives on three key issues: the universality of individual rationality, the sources of social order, and the nature of national development. On the other hand, it concludes that sociologists of development can best revitalize their subfield by re-engaging and building upon the classical tradition to study not only economic growth but more “sociological” explananda – like mobility, entrepreneurship, and rationalization – as well.
Keywords: economic development, social order, sociology, rationality, modernization.