A Social Theory

A Social Theory : A Historical Introduction

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The eighteenth-century Enlightenment saw the birth of the concept of modernity - of an era which sought legitimacy not from the past but from the future. No longer would human beings invoke the authority of tradition; instead, the societies emerging in the West would justify themselves by their success, through the application of scientific knowledge, in increasing control of the world. Ever since this idea of modernity was formulated, it has provoked immense debate. In exploring this debate, Alex Callinicos provides a wide-ranging historical and introduction to social theory which traces its connections with central themes in modern philosophy, with the development of political economy, and with the impact of evolutionary biology on social thought. The theorists treated include Montesquieu, Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, Hegel, Marx, Tocqueville, Maistre, Gobineau, Darwin, Spencer, Kautsky, Nietzsche, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Freud, Luk, Gramsci, Heidegger, Keynes, Hayek, Parsons, the Frankfurt School, L, Althusser, Foucault, Habermas and Bourdieu. A concluding chapter considers the contemporary condition of social theory including the analysis of "late modernity" by Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens. Alex Callinicos's volume provides a remarkably comprehensive and lucid account of social theory. It will be essential reading for students of politics, sociology and social and political thought.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 152 x 229mm | 695g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 0
  • 0745616445
  • 9780745616445

Table of contents

Introduction. 1. The Enlightenment. 1.1 Prehistory. 1.2 The concept of modernity. 1.3 A moral science. 1.4 The development of social theory. 1.5 Inner strains. 2. Hegel. 2.1 Reconciling modernity. 2.2 The labour of the negative. 2.3 The debate over modernity. 3. Liberals and Reactionaries. 3.1 Post-revolutionary debates. 3.2 Agonistic liberalism: Tocqueville and Mill. 3.3 Providence and race: Maistre and Gobineau. 4. Marx. 4.1 The adventures of the dialectic. 4.2 History and capitalism. 4.3 Class struggle and revolution. 5. Life and Power. 5.1 Evolution before and after Darwin. 5.2 Two evolutionists: Spencer and Kautsky. 5.3 Nature as the will to power: Nietzsche. 6. Durkheim. 6.1 Social evolution and scientific objectivity. 6.2 Society as a moral reality. 6.3 Meaning and belief. 7. Weber. 7.1 Prussian agriculture and the German state. 7.2 Science and the warring gods. 7.3 History and rationalization. 7.4 Liberal imperialism and democratic politics. 8. The Illusions of Progress. 8.1 The strange death of liberal Europe. 8.2 Objectivity and estrangement: Simmel. 8.3 The self dissected: Freud. 8.4 Memories of underdevelopment: Russian intellectuals and capitalism. 9. Revolution and Counter-Revolution. 9.1 Hegelian Marxism: LukAcs and Gramsci. 9.2 Heidegger and the conservative revolution. 10. The Golden Age. 10.1 Theories of capitalism: Keynes and Hayek. 10.2 Functionalist sociology: Talcott Parsons. 10.3 Despairing critique: the Frankfurt school. 11. Crack-Up? 11.1 The 1960s and after. 11.2 Structure and subject: LEvi-Strauss and Althusser. 11.3 Nietzsche's revenge: Foucault and poststructuralism. 11.4 Carrying on the tradition: Habermas and Bourdieu. 12. In Place of a Conclusion. Further Reading. Index.show more

Review quote

'Presenting an overview of social theory is a daunting task. One can end up with brief accounts of a host of social theorists, a mile wide and an inch deep, or alternatively, one can exclude important strands in social theory by focusing on the typical academic pantheon ... [Callinicos] has finessed all of the above difficulties and produced a theoretically rich, historically grounded account of the emergence and development of modern social theory ... The range of Callinicos's discussion is staggering ... It is a superb and welcome accomplishment.' New Political Scienceshow more

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69 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 29% (20)
4 48% (33)
3 16% (11)
2 6% (4)
1 1% (1)
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