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Image: Picserver.org (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Image: Picserver.org (CC BY-SA 3.0)

by Scott C. Whiteford and Natasha M. Ganem

Searching for the term “leadership” in six key journals published by the American Sociological Association* from 1994-2014 brings up 31 peer-reviewed articles. This stands in stark contrast to the 2,848 papers published by these journals in total. By this measure only about 1% of sociological research is dedicated to leadership.

We have only found one book chapter that addresses the question of what a sociology of leadership might be. In Nohria and Khurana’s (2010) edited Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, sociologist Mauro F. Guillén provides a review of classical sociological approaches to the study of leadership yet directly acknowledges too that there is no such thing as a separate subfield of ‘the sociology of leadership.’

We are frustrated by this. Why is this topic off-limits in sociology? Might we consider Leadership as a substantive area in sociology? What would this look like?

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