Whereas Norbert Elias criticized the "retreat of sociologists into the present", historians have often been accused of superficial investigation of the social dimension. Sociology and historiography have always been burdened by a complicated relationship, wavering between reciprocal inspiration and competitive differentiation. On the basis of lengthy experience featuring writings that have always adopted a historical perspective, one of Italy's major sociologists patiently and proficiently explores the two disciplines' common ground. Massimo Paci identifies the scholars who inhabit that common ground or brush against its boundaries: Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Gramsci, Aron, Elias, and Bourdieu. The narrative is enlivened by the events and situations that were studied by these scholars: the 18th Brumaire, the struggle between the Papacy and the Empire, the Battle of Marathon, the Calvinist Reformation, the court at Versailles, the Weimar Republic, and Mao's Long March.
Massimo Paci used to teach Sociology at the University of Ancona and La Sapienza University in Rome; he is also a former president of Italy's National Social Security Institute.