Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Douglas V. Davidson

Second Advisor

Dr. Lewis Walker

Third Advisor

Dr. Rudolph Siebert

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Gerald Markle


In examining the history and development of existential sociology, it becomes clear that in its initial phases it was not intended to oppose traditional sociological research, but to complement it. I intend to show that the contemporary chasm between the methodologies can be narrowed with a reconsideration of their common roots in the work of G.H. Mead and the symbolic interactionists. Existential sociologists today offer a practical synthesis that combines that theoretical heritage with philosophic ontology dating back to the writings of Soren Kierkegaard.

My conceptual goal is reveal how the existential philosophy of Kierkegaard, while not irrational or solipsistic, provides a more refined model for understanding the dialectic between society and the alienated self. Contrary to the standard conception, I propose that Kierkegaard was engaged directly in social theory. Moreover, his developmental stages of the individual can be effectually applied to society, with authentic individuality as requisite for a community with genuine equality. Those existential ideas may provide a theoretical setting conducive to the implementation of programs for social change.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access