"The essence of science is precisely theory...a generalized and coherent body of ideas, which explain the range of variations in the empirical world in terms of general principles"


Dr. Randall Collins is an American sociologist who has been influential in both his teaching and writing. He has taught in many notable universities around the world and his academic works have been translated into various languages. Collins is currently Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a leading contemporary social theorist whose areas of expertise include the macro-historical sociology of political and economic change; micro-sociology, including face-to-face interaction; and the sociology of intellectuals and social conflict. He has devoted much of his career and research to study society, how is it created and destroyed through emotional behaviors of human beings. He is considered to be one of the leading non-Marxist conflict theorists in the United States, and served as the president of the American Sociological Association from 2010 to 2011.

Dr. Collins' first position in academia was at his alma mater, University of California Berkeley followed by many other universities including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by the University of California - San Diego, the University of Virginia, and then University of California-Riverside, finally arriving at his current position at the University of Pennsylvania. He took intermittent breaks from academia, as a novelist, and as a freelance scholar. He has also been a visiting professor at Chicago, Harvard, and Cambridge, as well as various schools in Europe, Japan, and China. Collins has published almost one hundred articles since finishing his undergraduate education. He has also written and contributed to several books with a range of topics such as the discovery of society to the sociology of marriage and family life.

Dr. Collins grew up in a slew of different cities and countries, his father being a diplomat (and possible spy) with the US State Department during the Cold War. They lived in Germany immediately following World War II, and later in Moscow, among other places such as Uruguay. Though he was born in Tennessee to a Southern family, he does not consider any one place his “home.”

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_Collins


A lecture delivered by Dr. Randall Collins from the University of Pennsylvania as part of Cardiff University's Distinguished Lecture Series. The title of this lecture is 'Violence as Emotional Dominance: Micro-sociological causes'

Book Awards

  • Distinguished Publication Award for Best Book, American Sociological Association, 1999, for The Sociology of Philosophies

  • Association of American Publishers Scholarly Publishing Annual Award in the Category of Sociology and Anthropology, 1999, for The Sociology of Philosophies

  • Ten Best Books of the Year, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2000, for The Sociology of Philosophies

  • Ludwik Fleck Prize, for best book, Society for Social Studies of Science, 2002, for The Sociology of Philosophies

  • Distinguished Publication Award for Best Book, American Sociological Association, 2011, for Violence: A Micro-Sociological Theory


  • He has been traveling the world, including most of America, his whole life. He visited all the locations in CW2, through innumerable trips over many years.
  • When he was studying psychology at Stanford, he often experimented on rats, variously putting them through mazes and/or stimulating their brains with electrodes.

  • He was active in the Free Speech movement at Berkeley in the 1960s, and was even arrested in connection with it. He believes he originated the expression “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” though this has been attributed to his co-activist Jack Weinberg (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Weinberg).

  • His first published novel, 1979’s The Case of The Philosophers’ Ring, was a Sherlock Holmes mystery, and for it he was elected a member of the Crime Writers’ Association (Great Britain).

  • He is considered one of the only people, let alone scientists or other scholars, to have ever accurately forecast a major world event, when he predicted the fall of communism.

  • Being an expert in the social science of violence, Dr. Collins has consulted with the US and UK governments and militaries on possible geopolitical futures.

  • At the University of Pennsylvania, he taught a popular course on the study of gangs.

  • Also being a polymath in an array of fields such as psychology and the history of philosophies, he recently visited Japan as a consultant in the formation of a new institution to study the origins of consciousness.

  • He considers himself a speed-reader, and is one of the most wide-ranging readers a person might ever meet, in or out of scholarly circles. He prides himself on having a great personal library. As a youth, he read entire encyclopedias, and had a voracious appetite for great literature (as he still does), as well as for adventure stories and comic books. He loves movies, especially classics like Casablanca, though he will also go see superhero movies if they are based on any of his old favorite comic books.

  • He looks at all human behavior as ripe for study; to him, even babies’ cries are scientifically interesting. He thinks the ways that most people see the world are fraught with clichés, which he always wants to challenge. He considers the Political Correctness trend conformist.

  • He considers himself a Buddhist.



1979 - The Case of the Philosophers Ring.  New York: Crown Publishers. British edition, London: Harvester Press, 1980; reissued, Ostara Publications, 2009; Spanish edition, Madrid: Valdemar Ediciones, 2008.

2017 - Civil War 2. Los Angeles: Maren Ink. 


1975 - Conflict Sociology: Toward an Explanatory Science

1979 - The Credential Society: An Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification

1986 - Weberian Sociological Theory

1988 - Theoretical Sociology

1992 - Sociological Insight: An Introduction to Non-Obvious Sociology 2nd ed.

1994 - Four Sociological Traditions

1998.  The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Harvard University Press. Russian edition2002.   Chinese edition 2004. Spanish edition 2005. Turkish edition 2013. 

1999 - Macro-History

2004. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton University Press.  Spanish translation 2009. Korean translation 2010. Chinese translation 2011. Polish translation 2011.

2008. Violence:  A Micro-Sociological Theory.  Princeton University Press.  German translation 2011; Italian translation 2014; Chinese translation (Peking University Press) 2016.

2013. Does Capitalism Have a Future?  co-authored with Immanuel Wallerstein.  Oxford University Press. translations in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Slovenian, Czech, German, French, Arabic, Farsi, Polish, Finnish, Korean, Japanese, Romanian.

2015 - Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Social Energy. co-authored with Maren McConnell. Maren Ink.