Elexis Ellis

Elexis Ellis's picture
B.A. University of Notre Dame, Sociology, Minor in Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude (2013)
M.A., Yale University, Sociology (2016)
M.Phil., Yale University, Sociology (2017)
Areas of Interest: 
Sociology of Knowledge; Sociological Theory; Critical Theory/Continental Philosophy; Feminist Theory; Phenomenology
Sensuality at the Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory: Sensation and Representation in the Proto-/Weberian Tradition

My current work takes on the specific concept of *sympathy* as it is articulated in key classical (e.g., Weber, Marx, Simmel) and proto-classical (e.g., Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Smith, Hume) sociological theoretical works and works towards the claim that sensation and the sympathetic experience thereof—i.e., experience by proxy—plays a critical role in the theorization of sociation in the classical sociological corpus. At the broadest level, my dissertation approaches this topic from three general angles: I) as an exemplar of the *sensuality* of sociation in the classical corpus and its foundations, II) in dialogue with the sociology of the body and embodiment—especially with regard to the dimensions of race, sex, and suffering—, and III) with regard to the sociological theorization of representation and language, and the sensational yet social constitution of basic experience. Both individually and taken together, these perspectives perpetually reinforce my driving suspicion that the theme of sensation and its embodied constitution has in fact *always* been present in the sociological theoretical canon, and even laid vital philosophical groundwork for the phenomenological movements that themselves gave way to later sociological visions of embodiment and the self (e.g., in the critical responses of Simone de Beauvoir and Franz Fanon to Merleau-Ponty and Sartre). Accordingly, my work generally aims to uncover and articulate the ways in which such a perspective might a) reshape the disciplinary conception of the classics themselves, b) shed meaningful light on the application of embodiment to the theorization of sociation more broadly, and c) point to the relevance of this element of the classical sociological corpus to critical theory beyond the boundaries of the discipline, including but not limited to the spheres of modern/postmodern literary theory, phenomenology, and radical feminist theory.


Ellis, Elexis, K.H. Michalka, and M.E. Konieczny (2017). Individualism and Marriage: Ideal Types for Making Sense of the Relationship between Self and Sacrifice, Qualitative Sociology 40: 287-310.