Sociology Social Theory
by
Austin Harrington
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 July 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0054

Introduction

Social theory refers to ideas, arguments, hypotheses, thought-experiments and explanatory speculations about how and why human societies—or elements or structures of such societies—come to be formed, change, and develop over time or disappear. Usually supported in research institutions as a core component of the discipline of sociology, social theory most commonly encompasses the range of explanatory concepts, analytical tools, and heuristic devices on which sociologists and social scientists draw in their efforts to interpret statistical or qualitative data about particular empirical social phenomena. Social theory in this relatively narrowly delimited sense is usually thought of as more or less synonymous with the term “sociological theory.” But many common understandings of the scope of the field also imply a wider range of reference than this. Social theory can name general sources of ideas about social phenomena relevant to other disciplines of the social sciences and humanities, such as anthropology, political science, economics, history, cultural and media studies, and gender studies. And social theory can also be thought of as incorporating normative concerns bearing on debates about desirable ends or values of social life—about how social life ideally “ought to be”—in ways that overlap closely with concerns in the fields of moral, political, and legal philosophy. As social theory in most of its central concerns names only a practice of systematic theoretical thinking relevant to particular substantive problems or questions in sociology and other social-science disciplines, some headings in this bibliographical survey of the field will be found to overlap thematically with other Oxford Bibliographies entries in sociology. For more detailed surveys of substantive areas in the Oxford Bibliographies listing with prominent theoretical components see especially: Comparative Historical Sociology, Chicago School of Sociology, World-Systems Analysis, Marxist Sociology, Feminist Theory, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Postmodernity, Symbolic Interactionism, and Michel Foucault. The emphasis of the survey that follows falls primarily on currents and schools of thought in Western social theory from the 18th century to the present day. Note, however, that this survey omits commentary of texts currently unavailable in English..

Textbooks

Textbooks in social theory have been available in English for the past four or five decades. Most currently relevant textbooks and general guides to the field, however, date from the 1990s onward. One of the most wide-ranging recent textbooks, written at an elementary level and suitable for newcomers to the field, is Harrington 2005, covering virtually all sections of the field, with an emphasis on European developments. A more in-depth guidebook, written at a higher level and with a more concentrated focus on particular schools, is Joas and Knöbl 2009. An influential work specifically on American technical developments in theoretical sociology is Collins 1988. A classic work, still highly readable and canonical work in its own right, is Mills 2000. An accessible and stimulating book, narrower in range but suitable for younger student readership, is Ritzer 1993.

  • Collins, Randall. 1988. Theoretical sociology. New York: Harcourt Brace.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the best systematic expositions and syntheses of American traditions in social and sociological theory.

    Find this resource:

    • Harrington, Austin, ed. 2005. Modern social theory: An introduction. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Covers virtually all fields in elementary and concise form, with a glossary and useful biographical materials.

      Find this resource:

      • Joas, Hans, and Wolfgang Knöbl. 2009. Social theory: Twenty introductory lectures. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        A more selective but still highly comprehensive guide, with detailed evaluative assessments of key schools of thought and debates.

        Find this resource:

        • Mills, C. Wright. 2000. The sociological imagination. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Stimulating classic work by the radical American sociologist, progenitor of the concept of the “military-industrial complex” and the “power elite.” Originally published in 1959.

          Find this resource:

          • Ritzer, George. 1993. The McDonaldization of society: The changing character of contemporary social life. Newbury Park, Calif: Pine Forge Press.

            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            An engaging, easy read introducing the reader to Marxian and Weberian ideas about capitalism and rationalization, applied to contemporary capitalist mass consumer culture.

            Find this resource:

            Reference Works

            Reference works include handbooks, encyclopedias, and dictionaries of social theory, with concentrations in particular areas. Some works offer relatively brief comprehensive coverage of key terms, debates, schools, and authors in one-volume (e.g., Turner 2008 and Harrington, et al. 2006), while others are available as multivolume series in printed and online formats, providing lengthier treatments of several hundred individually named domains and developments (e.g., Ritzer 2010 and the International Library of the Social and Behavioral Sciences).

            Journals

            Journals of social theory tend to fall into one or other of two types. Some journals concentrate mainly on applied utilizations and critical evaluations of theoretical concepts for purposes of empirical social-scientific analysis. Others, by contrast, tend to support a greater intrinsic interest in theoretical sources in their own right. Journals of the former type are represented primarily by forums in the USA, typically with a commitment to the priority of data sources as a basis for the elaboration of scientifically rigorous explanatory norms. These include Theory and Society and Sociological Theory. Journals of the second type are more open to treatments of theories in their cultural, historical, and philosophical contexts of significance and in their bearing on normative questions. Three notable examples of the latter type are Thesis Eleven (based in Australia), Theory, Culture and Society (based in Britain) and the European Journal of Social Theory (based in Britain).

            Histories of Social Thought

            Also highly valuable for introductory purposes, and as studies in their own right, are books written primarily as overviews of the history of social thought. These books introduce the reader to the emergence of an idea of the social as a specific object of thought relatively distinct from the much more established domains of politics, law, morality, and theological doctrine as focal concerns for Western history and civilization since the Middle Ages and Greco-Roman antiquity. Lepenies 1988, Levine 1995, and Heilbron 1995 offer valuable discussions of the roots of sociological thinking in 18th- and 19th-century political economy and utilitarian thought, in Auguste Comte’s program of “positive philosophy” or positivism, in German idealist philosophy and historical scholarship, in socialist and social reform movements of the later 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe and North America. Lepenies 1988 is an excellent guide to European anti-rationalist and neo-romantic waves of cultural criticism from the early decades of the 20th century. Liebersohn 1988 gives one of the richest historical introductions to German social thought in its classical heyday.

            • Heilbron, Johan. 1995. The rise of social theory. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Scholarly study of the ascendance of social-scientific investigation in the last decades of the 19th century onward.

              Find this resource:

              • Lepenies, Wolf. 1988. Between literature and sociology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                A rich and illuminating study of the emergence of sociology and sociological thought between the “two cultures” of the natural sciences on the one hand and the arts and humanities on the other hand, from the 19th century through to the violent social crises and conflicting cultural movements of the early 20th century.

                Find this resource:

                • Levine, Donald. 1995. Visions of the sociological tradition. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  A wide-ranging and highly informative study of the development of cultures of sociological thought and inquiry in Europe and North America since the 19th century.

                  Find this resource:

                  • Liebersohn, Harry. 1988. Fate and utopia in German sociology 1890–1920. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    One of the best comparative studies of the sociological ideas of Weber, Simmel, Tönnies, Troeltsch, and Lukács in their historical context.

                    Find this resource:

                    Classical Founders

                    The five outstanding European founders of the modern discipline of social theory are usually considered to be Karl Marx 1818–1883, Émile Durkheim 1858–1917, Max Weber 1864–1930, Georg Simmel 1858–1918, and Ferdinand Tönnies 1855–1936. Tönnies is no longer read widely today, but Tönnies’s distinction between “community” and “society” or Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (often left untranslated in English) continues to be applied very widely. Marx’s writings on philosophy, politics, and economics establish the theory of historical materialism, based on transitions from one mode of production to the next, driven by contradictions between relations of material production and the legal, political, and cultural forms that arise out of these modes of production. From a social-reformist political perspective, Durkheim’s concern with problems of social solidarity and integration mirror Marx’s emphasis on the salience of complex macrological social forces superordinate to conscious acts and intentions on the part of individuals. By contrast, Weber’s “interpretive sociology,” focusing on the meaningful character of social life in historically and culturally specific contexts, analyses the formation of social structures from the starting-point of discrete situations of individual human agency. Simmel’s preoccupation with diverse cultural “forms” of “sociation” (Vergesellschaftung) and “interaction” (Wechselwirkung) influenced Weber’s approach and continues to be a rich source particularly for research in cultural sociology.

                    Karl Marx

                    Marxism has many churches and denominations. “Classical Marxism” usually refers to Marx’s own theoretical statements and their reception in his own lifetime, unadorned by subsequent interpretive developments later than about 1900. Literature in 20th-century Marxism (also frequently referred to as “Western Marxism,” as distinct from the dogmatic official Marxism of the Eastern Communist states before the end of the Cold War) is surveyed here in an additional section further below. Two useful overviews of the entire breadth of both classical and 20th-century Marxism (including Western as well as Soviet and Asian Maoist currents) are Marxists.org and Kolakowski 1978. An excellent volume is McClellan 2000. This should be read in conjunction with The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels 1998). An influential functionalist analysis of Marx’s theory of historical materialism, close to the spirit of classical Marxism in its focus on economics, was initiated in the late 1970s by Cohen 1978. The ability of 20th century capitalist economic organization to sustain itself in the face of chronic crisis and declining rates of profit was influentially analyzed by Mandel 1998, progenitor of the concept of “late capitalism.” Especially influential and analytically fertile in recent years has been Harvey’s 2007 geographical elaboration of Marxian theories of capital movement and of global crises of capital “over-accumulation.” Complementary to this work has been Arrighi’s 1994 examination of world-historically significant shifts in global centers of finance capitalism since the early modern period, as represented by the Italian city-states of the Renaissance via the Netherlands in the 17th century to Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries to the US in the 20th century—to possibly China in the 21st century.

                    • Arrighi, Giovanni. 1994. The long twentieth century. London: Verso.

                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      A powerful study of the developmental dynamics of global finance capitalism from the early modern period to the present day.

                      Find this resource:

                      • Cohen, G. A. 1978. Karl Marx’s theory of history: A defense. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Inaugurated the approach to Marx known as “analytical Marxism,” applying functionalist principles to Marx’s conception of historical materialism.

                        Find this resource:

                        • Harvey, David. 2007. The limits to capital. Updated ed. London: Verso.

                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          A major work by the British geographer and Marxist theorist, setting out in systematic form the key steps in Marx’s conception of the contradictions of capitalism generated by “crises of over-accumulation.”

                          Find this resource:

                          • Kolakowski, Leszek. 1978. Main currents of Marxism. 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            A classic three-volume study by a Polish Empire scholar, unfolding an interpretation stamped by the author’s experience of intellectual dissidence under the pre-1989 Communist regime, but generally even-handed and highly comprehensive in its survey.

                            Find this resource:

                            • Mandel, Ernest. 1998. Late capitalism. 2nd ed. London: Verso.

                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              The central reference point for the Marxian concept of “late capitalism.”

                              Find this resource:

                              • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1998. The Communist manifesto. Edited by Eric Hobsbawm. London: Verso.

                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                Remains the best place to begin reading Marx and gives the single most succinct and powerful statement of his vision; see especially chapter 1, “Bourgeois and Proletarians.” Recommendable in an edition introduced by Eric Hobsbawm, or can be found on Marxists.org.

                                Find this resource:

                                • Marxists.org.

                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  An extremely useful website displaying all of Marx’s most significant writings in English and in the original German.

                                  Find this resource:

                                  • McLellan, David, ed. 2000. Karl Marx: Selected writings. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    A good collection of key writings.

                                    Find this resource:

                                    Émile Durkheim

                                    Durkheim is chiefly appreciated in sociology today for two main works: his book, The Division of Labour (Durkheim 1984), and his mature treatise of 1912, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (Durkheim 2001). The former text outlines his theory of “mechanical” and “organic” types of social solidarity. The latter unfolds his sociological conception of religion as “a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, i.e., things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices that unite in one single moral community, called a Church, all those who adhere to them.” Readers new to Durkheim can begin with the standard intellectual biography, Lukes 1973.

                                    • Durkheim, Émile. 1984. The division of labour. New York: Free Press.

                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      States Durkheim’s examination of the nature and degree of integration between constituent members of social collectives and the process by which social practices, institutions, and systems become specialized around distinct functions, through the division of labor. Originally published in 1893.

                                      Find this resource:

                                      • Durkheim, Émile. 2001. The elementary forms of religious life. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        As part of Durkheim’s sociology of religion and general sociology of culture, knowledge, and cognition, this enormously influential book presents Durkheim’s mature vision of the role or “function” of symbolic “collective representations” in reinforcing the solidarity of social groups. Originally published in 1912.

                                        Find this resource:

                                        • Lukes, Steven. 1973. Emile Durkheim: His life and work. London: Allen Lane.

                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          The standard intellectual biography of Durkheim, still very serviceable.

                                          Find this resource:

                                          Max Weber

                                          A voluminous literature now exists on Weber’s work and its inestimable impact on social science research. One of the best in-depth studies, concentrating on Weber’s vision in its cultural and intellectual-historical context, is Scaff 1989. A highly rich and informative source is the biography of Weber (Radkau 2009). An introduction to the numerous philological disputes over readings of Weber’s multivalent ideas and lapidary statements is Whimster 2007, which draws on valuable archival research by the German editors of Weber’s Collected Works. An extensive state-of-the-art bibliography is provided in Sica 2004. Although Weber’s famous study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber 2010) is questionable in some of its empirical historical details, his account plays a key part in Weber’s overall thesis of the decisive significance of “cultural,” “ideal,” and specifically religious factors in shaping the direction of processes of “rationalization” constitutive of modern social life, particularly in the Occident. The leading one-volume selection of Weber’s writings is still Gerth and Mills 1948, which, among other pieces, contains Weber’s key essay “Religious Rejections of the World and their Directions” (also known as “Intermediate Reflections”). This presents Weber’s influential sociological conception of “rationalization,” referring to the penetration of spheres of modern social life by rational principles of organization, oriented especially to bureaucratic efficiency and procedural systematicity. Here Weber 1978 explains how, under processes of rationalization, modern social life divides into discrete spheres of autonomous validity, each sphere following its own independent logic of development; these include the market, the state and the judiciary, as well as science, religion, art, morality and the erotic life. Specialist exegetical work on Weber can be followed in the journal Max Weber Studies.

                                          • Gerth, Hans, and C. Wright Mills. 1948. From Max Weber: Essays in sociology. London: Routledge.

                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Still the best overall selection of Weber’s sociological writings (excluding the Protestant Ethic and Economy and Society), including the two key lectures “Science as a Vocation” (1917) and “Politics as a Vocation” (1919), and the essay titled “Religious Rejections of the World and their Directions” (also known as “Intermediate Reflections”).

                                            Find this resource:

                                            • Max Weber Studies.

                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              A specialist journal devoted to philological reseach on Weber’s corpus as well as to ongoing empirical applications of key Weberian ideas.

                                              Find this resource:

                                              • Radkau, Joachim. 2009. Max Weber: A biography. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Currently the definitive biography of Weber, full of good information on the entwinement of Weber’s personal life and scholarly work. Originally published in 2005.

                                                Find this resource:

                                                • Scaff, Lawrence. 1989. Fleeing the iron cage. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Overall the best interpretive study of Weber’s worldview.

                                                  Find this resource:

                                                  • Sica, Alan. 2004. Max Weber: A comprehensive biblilography. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Provides a helpful map of the expansive secondary literature.

                                                    Find this resource:

                                                    • Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and society. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Chapter 1 (“Basic Sociological Terms”) of this massive two-volume work outlines Weber’s definition of “interpretive sociology,” including the categories of action, social action, the state, and many other key concepts. Originally published in 1922.

                                                      Find this resource:

                                                      • Weber, Max. 2010. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Translated by Stephen Kalberg. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Weber’s classic account of the exemplary significance of Protestant religious teaching in northwestern Europe and colonial New England in the legitimation of a type of ascetic “innerworldly” and “methodical conduct of life” favorable for the rise of capitalistic entrepreneurial mentalities since the early modern period. An older but much still much-used translation of this work is by Talcott Parsons from 1930. Originally published in 1920.

                                                        Find this resource:

                                                        • Whimster, Sam. 2007. Understanding Weber. London: Routledge.

                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          An informative guide through the debates around Weber’s writings raised particularly by new editorial scholarship for the German Collected Works.

                                                          Find this resource:

                                                          Georg Simmel

                                                          Tried and tested points of entry to Simmel’s wide-ranging oeuvre are the essay “The Metropolis and Mental Life” in Featherstone and Frisby 1997 and the essay “Excursus on the Stranger” in Simmel 2009. These texts can be followed up more systematically in the last chapter of Simmel’s first major work, The Philosophy of Money (Simmel 1978). An extremely useful collection of Simmel’s experimental studies in the sociology of culture, modernity, and urbanism is Featherstone and Frisby 1997. The best study of Simmel’s sociological work in its entirety is Frisby 1981.

                                                          • Featherstone, Mike, and David Frisby, eds. 1997. Simmel on culture. London: SAGE.

                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            The best selection of Simmel’s essays on the sociology of culture and modernity, including the essay “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” which in essence gives a summary of Simmel’s argument in The Philosophy of Money.

                                                            Find this resource:

                                                            • Frisby, David. 1981. Sociological impressionism: A reappraisal of Georg Simmel’s social theory. London: Heinemann.

                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Remains the best overall study of Simmel’s sociology in English.

                                                              Find this resource:

                                                              • Simmel, Georg. 1978. The philosophy of money. London: Routledge.

                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Readers of Simmel’s first magnum opus should turn to the last chapter, “The Style of Life,” which presets Simmel’s vision of the essence and tragic dynamics of modern cultural forms of life, including tendencies toward objectification, reification, formalization, aestheticization, and stylization, as well as urbanization. Originally published in 1900.

                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                • Simmel, Georg. 2009. Sociology: Inquiries into the construction of social forms. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill.

                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Simmel’s magnum opus, Sociology, is now available in a complete two-volume translation, having long been only accessible in abridged form and dispersed across several collections. Two of the most influential sections of the work have been ’How Is Society Possible?” (pp. 40–52) and “Excursus on the Stranger” (pp. 601–620). Originally published in 1908.

                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                  Ferdinand Tönnies

                                                                  Tönnies is recognized today for inaugurating a way of thinking about modern social and political change in terms of the disappearance of traditional “communal relations,” based on more or less continuous face-to-face interaction between family members and kin groups in close-knit agrarian and small-scale urban craftsmanship communities. He looks at the rise of “societal relations,” based on more or less discontinuous, impersonal, abstract exchange relationships between individuals as providers of anonymous services and commodities. This is laid out in Tönnies 2001.

                                                                  • Tönnies, Ferdinand. 2001. Community and civil society. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    A recent scholarly edition of Tönnies’s classic book with useful contextualizing material. Originally published in 1887.

                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                    Functionalism and its Critics

                                                                    Functionalism(also known as “structural functionalism”) refers mainly to the work of American sociological theorists active in the middle decades of the 20th century, represented primarily by Parsons 1951 and Merton 1968, influenced by Émile Durkheim and by the scientific anthropology of Malinowski 1944. Parsons and Merton held that a society is to be studied in terms of interdependent “systems” and “structures” that perform interrelated “functions” for the society as a whole. Central to functionalism was the concept of integration, indicating that social systems typically maintain an orderly character through coordinating mechanisms, even during times of conflict. Parsons 1951 was the most systematic theorist of functionalism and introduced European social theory to the United States in the 1930s. Merton 1968 examined the sociology of deviance, organizations, knowledge, and science in a functionalist framework, espousing theories of the “middle range” (mediating between grand theory and non-theory). Alexander 1982–1984 was a reconstructive defense of functionalism against the many criticisms made of it over the years. One influential critic in the 1960s and 1970s was Alvin Gouldner, charging functionalism with a politically conservative tendency that downplayed the significance of conflict (see Gouldner 1970). Other criticisms can be seen as coming from the direction of rational choice and methodological-individualist analyses, as proposed by Coleman 1991 and Elster 1989. Influenced by economic theory and by utilitarianism, these latter critics tend to hold that social life is best analyzed in terms of decisions and calculations by individual actors aimed at maximizing advantages through strategies of cooperation and noncooperation with other actors. Two informative studies of Parsons and Merton are, respectively, Gerhardt 2002 and Sztompka 1986.

                                                                    • Alexander, Jeffrey. 1982–1984. Theoretical logic in sociology. 4 vols. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      The last of these four volumes presets Alexander’s reconstruction of Parsons’s program for sociology, taking on board the diverging standpoints of Merton and others.

                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                      • Coleman, James. 1991. Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        The major work of a US sociologist of education and theorist of rational choice, critical of functionalism and advocating methodological individualist terms of analysis.

                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                        • Elster, Jon. 1989. The cement of society. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511624995Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          An influential work in the application of methodological individualist principles to social analysis and the philosophy of social science.

                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                          • Gerhardt, Uta. 2002. Talcott Parsons. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511527586.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            An informative study of Parsons’s intellectual biography.

                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                            • Gouldner, Alvin. 1970. The coming crisis of Western sociology. New York: Basic Books.

                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              A classic critique of functionalism from a left-wing perspective.

                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                              • Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1944. A scientific theory of culture. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                This book lays out the methodology of Malinowski’s pioneering anthropological fieldwork in a functionalist framework, based initially on a study of gift-exchange systems among inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands in northwestern Melanesia.

                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                • Merton, Robert K. 1968. Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.

                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Outlines Merton’s sociology of culture, morality, deviance, education. Also covers his conception of “manifest and latent functions” and of “dysfunctions,” his program of “theories of the middle range” (recommending that all theoretical constructs be grounded in specific empirical problems), and his influential concept of “self-fulfilling prophecies.” Originally published in 1949.

                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                  • Parsons, Talcott. 1951. The social system. New York: Free Press.

                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Parsons wrote many books, but The Social System is usually considered the key work of the middle years of his intellectual career. Parsons’s 1937 opus The Structure of Social Action incorporated a focus on the elementary particles of action: the “action frame of reference,” as he called it. These are then analyzed in terms of total integrating “systems” and structures of social order.

                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                    • Sztompka, Piotr. 1986. Robert K. Merton: An intellectual profile. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      The best in-depth study of Merton’s work.

                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                      Theories of Action and Interaction

                                                                                      Action is the realization of the power of a person or thing to effect change in itself and its environment. Action in social theory usually contrasts with “structures” that limit or constrain action negatively by reducing the range of possibilities available to an actor or by predetermining the actor’s possibilities and deeds beyond the actor’s free choice. But “structures” can also be seen as shaping, molding, or articulating action in some sense and thus “enabling” it to a certain extent. In addition to Weber and Parsons (see the named works in sections above), classic works from theorists of action in sociology are Mead 1934 and the American theorists of “interaction” based in Chicago in the early years of the 20th century: works from these theorists notably include Blumer 2009. Blumer is the originator of the term “symbolic interactionism,” stressing the dynamic and creative aspect of social life as sustained by individual human actors in ongoing exchanges, interpretations, and “definitions of the situation.” A major source of inspiration for interactionist theories is American pragmatist philosophy, referring to the thesis that the content and validity of concepts and ideas consists in their practical applicability, effectiveness, or usefulness for life. Action and interactionist theories were developed in creative directions in a second wave from the 1950s onward by Goffman 1956, Garfinkel 1967, and Collins 1988. A useful study of the field is Joas 1996. For the history of the Chicago School see Bulmer 1984.

                                                                                      • Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2009

                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Founding text of the inventor of the term “symbolic interactionism,” who synthesized George Herbert Mead’s pragmatist social psychology with the sociology of W. I. Thomas and others. Originally published in 1967 (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall).

                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                        • Bulmer, Martin. 1984. The Chicago School. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          The standard introduction to the Chicago circle of sociologists of the early 20th century and their later legacies.

                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                          • Collins, Randall. 1988. Theoretical sociology. New York: Harcourt Brace.

                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            An excellent analytical guide to interactionist sociology, placed alongside functionalist theory and other schools of thought.

                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                            • Garfinkel, Harold. 1967. Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              This is the inaugural text of Garfinkel’s program of “ethnomethodology,” stressing microscopic participatory study of the ways people produce meaning and social order through ongoing interpretations of each other’s actions, following tacit rules of behavior and social performance.

                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                              • Goffman, Erving. 1956. The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Anchor.

                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Outlines the author’s “dramaturgical model of action,” stressing the theatrical aspect of social life, self-presentation, and role performance and laying the groundwork for Goffman’s later seminal work on the sociology of “outsiders,” “total institutions,” “stigma,” shame, and embarrassment.

                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                • Joas, Hans. 1996. The creativity of action. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Informative study of the creative character of action and agency and its neglect by functionalist theory in the Parsonian tradition; applies the pragmatist thought of William James, John Dewey, and G. H. Mead to social theory. Originally published in 1992.

                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                  • Mead, George Herbert. 1934. Mind, self and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Major work in the social psychology and sociology of interaction, theorizing processes of socialization, communication and language acquisition, personal agency, and the social construction of senses of self.

                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                    Interpretive and Phenomenological Theories

                                                                                                    Deriving originally from Weber’s term verstehende Soziologie (from the German verb verstehen “to understand”), “interpretive” or “interpretivist” approaches in social science emphasize the meaningful character of social life as fashioned through relationships of reciprocity between individual social actors (even when such relationships take a conflictual form). Dovetailing closely with interactionist theories, these approaches thematize the importance of deciphering the meanings that motivate actors to act or speak as they do, or “putting oneself in the other’s shoes.” As such they are usually critical of approaches that prioritize quantitative analysis, measurement, and behavioral observation. “Phenomenology” refers to the method and school of philosophical thought founded by Edmund Husserl, involving description of things in the world insofar as they appear to consciousness as objects of experience for subjects who are conscious of them. Phenomenological analysis proceeds by bracketing questions about the causation or purpose of objects of experience in order to concentrate on describing the manner in which such objects appear to subjects as objects with particular meanings. For example, the phenomenologist concentrates on describing the meaning of someone’s raising his or her arm as a sign or indication to or for someone, rather than trying to identify the physical stimuli that may have caused the person to raise his or her arm. Husserl’s phenomenological philosophy would be extended into a comprehensive “hermeneutical” analysis of (human) “being-in-the-world” by Martin Heidegger in the later 1920s, regarding modern science and metaphysics as a derivative mode of understanding in relation to fundamental problems of existence. Leading interpretivist, phenomenological, and hermeneutical contributors in social theory have been Schütz 1966, Mannheim 1985, Merleau-Ponty 2002, Gadamer 2004, Kojève 1980, Lefebvre 1992, Kuhn 1962, Elias 2000, and Berger and Luckmann 1966.

                                                                                                    • Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann. 1966. The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. London: Penguin.

                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Highly influential synthesis of Schütz, Weber, and Durkheim and other sources, establishing the idea of social relations and structures as an objectively existent order that is subjectively produced and reproduced by human agents in terms of meanings and symbolic values.

                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                      • Elias, Norbert. 2000. The civilizing process. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Presents Elias’s majesterial account of the concept of civilization, working interpretively with European historical sources and thematizing increasingly dense and complex social forms based on relatively stable power monopolies, such as royal courts or central state bureaucracies, that tend toward levels of pacification, self-control, and the rise of cultures of manners and civility. Originally published in 1939.

                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                        • Gadamer, Hans-Georg. 2004. Truth and method. New York: Continuum.

                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          A major philosophical work defining hermeneutics as a practice of the interpretation of existence, history, and tradition founded in dialogue between the past and the present, influencing the early Jürgen Habermas. Originally published in 1960.

                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                          • Kojève, Alexandre. 1980. Introduction to the reading of Hegel. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Central work by the French phenomenological philosopher, propounding an interpretation of Hegel’s “dialectic of master and slave” influencing feminist and postcolonial theory; later criticized by the French poststructuralist theorists for excessively humanistic or “anthropocentric” assumptions. Originally published in 1947.

                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                            • Kuhn, Thomas. 1962. The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Seminal text by the US historian and philosopher, theorizing the history of science in terms of discontinuous “paradigm shifts,” casting doubt on linear progress in science; regarded as preparing the ground for relativistic and antirealist conceptions of science.

                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                              • Lefebvre, Henri. 1992. The production of space. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Applies phenomenological interpretive analyses of space to an understanding social deprivation, inequality, class, social conflict and creativity, especially in the context of the city and urban research. Originally published in 1974.

                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                • Mannheim, Karl. 1985. Ideology and utopia: An introduction to the sociology of knowledge. New York: Harcourt Brace.

                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Key text of the founder of the “sociology of knowledge,” drawing on phenomenological and interpretive historical thought; simultaneously a major theoretical contribution to an understanding of the persistence of ideological and utopian movements of thought at both ends of the political spectrum. Originally published in 1929.

                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 2002. The phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Influential text defining human subjectivity from the standpoint of the “lived body” of the self as a sensory-motor agency of feelings, sensations, desires, and intentions that prestructure the conscious life of the mind, criticizing Cartesian dualism but emphasizing human finitude, praxis, and everyday life. Originally published in 1945.

                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                    • Schutz, Alfred. 1966. Common sense and scientific interpretation of human action. In Alfred Schutz: Collected papers. Vol. 1. The Hague: Nijhoff.

                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      The best introductory text by a leading founder of phenomenological sociology, outlining the argument that social science builds on, but does not fundamentally replace, the “common-sense understandings” of ordinary people or “lay actors”; presents Schütz’s idea of the everyday world or “lifeworld” as meaningfully experienced by ordinary actors in a prereflexive, non-scientific manner.

                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                      Psychoanalytic Social Theory

                                                                                                                      Lacan 2001 combined Freud 2010’s pioneering work with structural linguistics and is best-known for his statement that “the unconscious is structured like a language.” At least a dozen other schools of psychoanalytic thought can be identified, all with noticeable impact of sociological and general social-theoretical inquiry. One example is object relations theory, notably expounded by Benjamin 1988: this refers to the emergence of a sense of self in the child by differentiation from a surrounding world, where the child experiences a sense of limitation caused by objects which are not part of the child and cannot be changed by the child (such as the breast of the mother). Chodorow 1978 and Kristeva 1984 are two examples of the many wide-ranging uses of psychoanalysis in feminist theory and research. Žižek 1999 makes provocative use of psychoanalytic arguments from a Marxist standpoint across an array of fields, from consumption, popular culture, film, pornography, and the mass media to theories of racism and xenophobia. This approach also echoes Deleuze and Guattari 1977’s poststructuralist reading of psychoanalysis. A social-theoretical elaboration of the Lacanian concept of the “imaginary” is given by Castoriadis 1987.

                                                                                                                      • Benjamin, Jessica. 1988. The bonds of love. New York: Pantheon.

                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        A substantial work of feminist psychoanalytic theory, applying the “object relations” theories of the psychoanalysts Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott.

                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                        • Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1987. The imaginary institution of society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Theorizes social agency and the radical political imagination by drawing on Lacan’s concept of the imaginary, in conjunction with ideas from Marxism, semiotics, and hermeneutics. Originally published in 1975.

                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                          • Chodorow, Nancy. 1978. The reproduction of mothering: Psychoanalysis and the sociology of gender. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Critically adapts Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex from a feminist standpoint in relation to the social construction of motherhood.

                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                            • Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1977. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. New York: Viking.

                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Influential poststructuralist reading of psychoanalysis, arguing that Freud’s Oedipus complex simplifies and distorts the more fundamentally dispersed, anarchic, and “schizophrenic” character of affect, desire, violence, and libidinal energy in capitalist consumer societies. Originally published in 1972.

                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                              • Freud, Sigmund. 2010. Civilization and its discontents. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                This late speculative work by Freud, written on the eve of Germany’s collapse into Nazi dictatorship, is the single most interesting of Freud’s texts from the perspective of social theory, presenting the theory of culture and civilization as a work of socially necessary repression or “sublimation” that regulates otherwise anarchic, violent, and destructive human drives and wishes. Originally published in 1930.

                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                • Kristeva, Julia. 1984. Revolution in poetic language. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  One of the most influential syntheses of psychoanalysis, structural linguistics, and semiotic theory from a feminist standpoint, influencing a large amount of work on gender in the context of cultural representations and literary writing. Originally published in 1974.

                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                  • Lacan, Jacques. 2001. Écrits. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    A key source for Lacan’s central concept of “lack,” suggesting that culture, morality and identity represent forms of compensation for more basic experiences of privation, denied pleasure, or bodily disorientation in sensory life.. Originally published in 1966.

                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                    • Ricoeur, Paul. 1970. Freud and philosophy. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      A highly informative and philosophically systematic guide to the idea of psychoanalysis as defined by Freud, by a major French theorist of hermeneutics and phenomenology. Originally published in 1965.

                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                      • Žižek, Slavoj. 1999. The ticklish subject. London: Verso.

                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Of Žižek’s many books, this one provides perhaps the best entrée to the author’s psychoanalytic theory of late capitalist subjectivity, combining Lacan with Hegel and Marx.

                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                        Twentieth-Century Marxism

                                                                                                                                        Gramsci 1971 formulated a modified version of the Marxist theory of ideology as “hegemony,” involving elements of both force over social actors and consent on the part of these actors. Ernst Bloch and Georg Lukács, as surveyed incisively by Jay 1984b, developed Marx’s ideas about alienation, class consciousness, and historical totality from the starting-point of Hegel’s philosophy. Benjamin 1969 and Kracauer 1995 were pioneering analyses of popular culture, consumerism, and the mass media, influencing the Frankfurt School and British and American cultural studies during the 1970s and 1980s. Max Horkheimer, as second director of the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt University in the 1920s and subsequently after World War II, formulated a synthesis of Marxism and Freud and other sources that he termed “critical theory,” and, together with Theodor W. Adorno, propounded the concept of the capitalist “culture industry” (Horkheimer and Adorno 1972). Horkheimer and Adorno, along with with Marcuse 1964, elaborate a conception of “instrumental reason,” referring to modern capitalist practices of subordination of all dimensions of social life to the most efficient achievement of economic profit and administrative order; adapted from Max Weber’s concept of “purposive rationality” or “means-ends rationality,” denoting the most efficient use of available means to given end, without deliberation on the value of the ends themselves. Two excellent studies of the Frankfurt School are Jay 1973 and Benhabib 1986; a good introduction to Adorno in particular is Jay 1984a.

                                                                                                                                        • Benhabib, Seyla. 1986. Critique, norm, and utopia: A study of the foundations of critical theory. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          A highly informative scholarly study of the methods, concepts and idea of “critical theory.”

                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                          • Benjamin, Walter. 1969. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In Illuminations. New York: Schocken.

                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            The single most influential text of the 20th century in the sociology of art and aesthetics, mass culture, and the media from a Marxist standpoint. Originally published in 1936.

                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                            • Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the prison notebooks. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Presents the Italian theorist’s ideas (formulated during imprisonment by the fascist regime under Mussolini) on hegemony as “intellectual and moral leadership,” involving a combination of force and consent, denoting a more sophisticated concept of domination than the classical Marxist concept of ideology insofar as it involves an element of willing submission to leadership, which is at the same time subtly coerced. Originally written 1926–1937.

                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                              • Horkheimer, Max, and W. Theodor Adorno. 1972. The dialectic of enlightenment. New York: Herder & Herder.

                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                The key source for the Frankfurt School’s concept of the culture industry, denoting the production of mass culture through processes of industrialization driven by commercial imperatives, supplying ideological legitimation for capitalist consumption and production through broadcasting, fashion, advertising, film, and other forms of the mass media. Originally published in 1947.

                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                • Kracauer, Siegfried. 1995. The mass ornament. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  This collection of essays by Kracauer on film, photography, white-collar workers, dance, and entertainment rivals the work of Benjamin for its compelling insight into mass behavioral social norms in age of industrial capitalist modernity. Originally published in 1931.

                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                  • Jay, Martin. 1973. The dialectical imagination: A history of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923–1950. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    The best historical study of the work of the Frankfurt School.

                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                    • Jay, Martin. 1984a. Adorno. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      The best short introduction to Adorno, explaining the German critic’s theory of modernity, “negative dialectics” and the avant-garde in art and music.

                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                      • Jay, Martin. 1984b. Marxism and totality. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        An excellent study of Hegelian Marxism in the 20th century, covering Lukács, Bloch, Benjamin and the Frankfurt School, and others.

                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                        • Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. One-dimensional man. Boston: Beacon.

                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Gripping popular presentation of Frankfurt School Marxism’s critique of capitalism, alienation, and the destruction of revolutionary consciousness: a central reference point for the 1968 student protest movement.

                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                          Structuralism and Poststructuralism

                                                                                                                                                          Structuralism usually refers to the work of French intellectuals in the middle decades of the 20th century influenced by the “structural linguistics” of Ferdinand de Saussure, as applied to diverse domains of the humanities and social sciences by Lévi-Strauss 1963, Roland Barthes, Althusser 1997, Jacques Lacan (see above, Psychonalytic Social Theory), and others. The movement takes its point of departure from semiotics, referring to theories of the generation of meaning in texts and other symbolic objects through differential relationships between signs. In this conception, a “signifier” is a sign that denotes or connotes some meaning, while a “signified” is a meaning signified by this sign. Structuralism originates the concept of the “binary,” referring to examples of logical opposites or pairings between two ideas, where one idea is said to be meaningful only by dependence on the other idea: e.g., mind/body, rational/irrational, culture/nature, masculine/feminine. “Post-structuralism” refers to a style of theorizing influenced by the first wave of French structuralist writers that radicalizes or critically transforms their ideas in various ways, emphasizing instability in textual meanings as functions of unbounded systems of differences between signifying elements. Poststructuralism is usually associated with the thinking of Jacques Derrida (Derrida 1976, Derrida 1994), Foucault 2001, and Deleuze 1977 (see Psychoanalytic Social Theory). Foucault and Deleuze extend these precepts to an analysis of power, discipline, and social control, through education, science and cultural authority as well as consumer desire and media representations. Two stimulating guides to the intellectual career and influence of poststructuralism are Bennington 1993 and Cusset 2008. A trenchant critique is defended by Dews 1987.

                                                                                                                                                          • Althusser, Louis. 1997. Reading capital. London: Verso.

                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Applies structuralist analysis to a Marxist critique of capitalist politics and moral discourse, expounding the concept of “ideological state apparatuses.” Originally published in 1970.

                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                            • Bennington, Geoffrey. 1993. Jacques Derrida. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              An in-depth study of Derrida’s charismatic career in literary, cultural, and social theory.

                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                              • Cusset, François. 2008. French theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & co. transformed the intellectual life of the United States. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                An eye-opening critical study of the impact of structuralism and poststructuralism in the US humanities and social sciences. Originally published in 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                • Derrida, Jacques. 1976. Of grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Derrida here elaborates his vision of semantic and semiotic ambiguity or “différance”— in the sense of both “different” and “deferred” meanings—together with the concept of “deconstruction,” referring to a practice of reading texts and other meaningful objects that results in a dismantling or laying bare of hidden organizing principles or metaphysical assumptions. Originally published in 1967.

                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                  • Derrida, Jacques. 1994. Spectres of Marx. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    In this influential book Derrida addresses the criticism that his earlier work evaded matters of politics, here diagnosing the decline of Marxism and socialism in mainstream Western academic and liberal-democratic political discourse after the revolutions of 1989 and the end of the Cold War. Originally published in 1992.

                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                    • Dews, Peter. 1987. Logics of disintegration: Post-structuralist thought and the claims of critical theory. London: Verso.

                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      One of the most cogent and lucid critiques of poststructuralism from the standpoint of critical theory, influenced by the Frankfurt School.

                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                      • Foucault, Michel. 2001. The order of things. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Overall, the most systematic and philosophical of Foucault’s books, outlining the French theorist’s ideas on power, knowledge, science, history and “discourse.” The last part of the book defends the thesis of the “end of man,” i.e., the end of philosophical humanism, as an ethically narcissistic conceit of modern Western social thought since the Age of the Enlightenment. Originally published in 1966.

                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                        • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1963. Structural anthropology. New York: Basic Books.

                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          The classic source for structuralist method in the discipline of anthropology. Originally published in 1958.

                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                          Postmodernism

                                                                                                                                                                          Postmodernism can be described as an intellectual mood or movement, prominent from around 1980 onward, that rejects totalities, universal values, grand historical narratives, and solid foundations to human existence. It is characteristically skeptical of truth, unity, and progress and celebrates pluralism, discontinuity, and heterogeneity. “Postmodernism” tends refer to stylistic developments in culture and the arts and idioms of thought since the later 1970s, while “postmodernity” tends to refer to a general structural social condition that is held to underpin these developments. This semantic distinction mirrors an analogous difference between the terms “modernism” and “modernity.” Debates about postmodernism and postmodernists were intense in the 1980s and early 1990s but have since simmered down. Broadly the central question has been whether the generally agreed demise of modernism as an aesthetic style (in literature, music, architecture, painting, and so on) truly implies the “end of modernity,” either as an empirically given social condition of current times or as the name for a set of distinctive normative ideas and ideals (such as truth and objectivity in science, or enlightenment in the public sphere. Many contributors, from Bell 1973 to Harvey 1989 and Jameson 1984, have emphasized some definite cultural and social-structural changes, correlated with transitions in Western states societies toward increasingly postindustrial economies centered around services in a context of moves toward neo-liberal fiscal policy. Others such as Habermas 1987 have defended the normative challenges of modernity over against an apparent or alleged nihilistic tendency of postmodernist thinking in the work of authors such as Lyotard 1984, Baudrillard 1995, and Deleuze. Bauman 1993 has offered an influential ethical interpretation of postmodernity. Huyssen 1986 is an illuminating tracing of modernist and postmodernist motifs in 20th-century art and literature.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Baudrillard, Jean. 1995. Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Presents a key postmodernist theme, the idea that copies that cannot be distinguished from the original things that they copy, thus collapsing all distinction between originals and non-originals, or between the “real” and the “fake”; relevant particularly to analysis of the media and postmodern visual culture. Originally published in 1981.

                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                            • Bauman, Zygmunt. 1993. Postmodern ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.

                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Develops a thesis about ethical sensibilities in postmodern societies where individuals seeking moral guidance in life can no longer rely on apparently fixed or clear rules with a lawlike or “legislative” character; a book that builds on the author’s reflections on the Holocaust as a problem for modern Western ideas of reason, morality, civilization, and humanism.

                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                              • Bell, Daniel. 1973. The coming of post-industrial society. New York: Basic Books.

                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                A key text for the thesis of the declining position of manufacturing industry in Western economies since the 1970s and the dramatic expansion of sectors of the economy devoted to services, finance, leisure, and consumption; also explored is the concept of post-Fordism, i.e., the move toward labor markets based on small flexible units of production.

                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                • Habermas, Jürgen. 1987. The philosophical discourse of modernity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  The single most influential, as well as controversial, normative critique of postmodernism in favor of what Habermas called the “unfinished project of modernity,” defined as an ongoing labor of democratic enlightenment in the public sphere; a work, however, that can be seen as a little unfair and overstated in some of its accusations. Originally published in 1985.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Harvey, David. 1989. The condition of postmodernity. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Still the best overall guide to postmodernism and postmodernity, incisively relating developments in cultural and aesthetic styles in film, architecture, and popular culture to structural political and economic transformations in Western societies since the 1970s.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Huyssen, Andreas. 1986. After the great divide. Indianapolis: Indiana Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Concentrates on high modernism in mid-20th-century arts and letters as an institutionalized development reacting to the explosive and anarchic avant-garde of the 1920s, which Huyssen sees as reappearing in popular form in the 1960s and then in a second wave in postmodernism of the 1980s.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Jameson, Fredric. 1984. Postmodernism, or the cultural logic of late capitalism. New Left Review 146 (July–August): 52–92.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Seminal and widely cited essay, pinpointing five key features of aesthetic, stylistic, and cognitive change in societal self-images and their relationship to “late capitalist” societies, marked by the demise of the traditional working class as a self-conscious collective political agency. A longer version of the essay appears in a book published by Jameson under the same title in 1991.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lyotard, Jean-François. 1984. The postmodern condition. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          The central theoretical reference point for postmodern theory, defining postmodernism in terms of the “end of grand narratives,” “skepticism toward meta-narratives” or aversion toward generalizing accounts of history or science that subsume disparate contexts of experience under a single overarching frame of reference. The reader should begin with the essay appended to the end of the book: “An Answer to the Question: What is Postmodernism?” Originally published in 1979.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                          Theories of Modernity and Modernization, C. 1965 to the Present

                                                                                                                                                                                          Since the mid-1960s a range of general social theories of modernity and modernization have evolved, some of them pre-dating postmodernism, some reacting critically against postmodernism, and some developing largely independently of the issues raised by postmodernism and persisting to the present day as valid and insightful frames of reference. For a long time, the functionalist paradigm formulated by Talcott Parsons, among others (see Parsons’ Functionalism and its Critics, above), was a guiding reference point for what has come to be known as “classical modernization theory,” defining structural societal transformations in terms of an evolutionary process of institutional differentiation and systemic integration, more or less uniform across different global cultural contexts. Habermas 1984–1987 and Habermas 1988 continue this paradigm in a synthesis of ideas drawn additionally from Weber, phenomenology, Frankfurt School critical theory, and post-Wittgensteinian Anglo-American analytical philosophy, as well as the philosophy of Kant. Giddens 1984 and Beck 1992 contributions also continue the framework but introduce the idea of reflexivity or reflexive modernization, emphasizing the capability of modern states and institutions for self-monitoring and self-adjustment in the face of risks and destructive tendencies (such as tendency of early-20th-century utopian nation-states to totalitarianism and dictatorship). Luhmann 1995 develops the functionalist logic of Parsons’s work into a universal cybernetic “systems theory” of modern social change, highlighting the systemic “autopoetic” character of processes of institutional differentiation between domains of the economy, politics, law, morality, religion, science, and the arts. Bourdieu (see Bourdieu 1977 and Bourdieu 2010) has done probably more than any other major theorist and practicing sociologist to expound modern precepts of critique, contention, and collective social self-determination vis-à-vis recurrent sociological patterns of inequality and domination and their reproduction through cultural norms in contexts of education and socialization, status-ascription, and cultural prestige, as well as gender and the family. Habermas’s and Luhmann’s work is helpfully introduced by, respectively, McCarthy 1978 and Rash 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Beck, Ulrich. 1992. The risk society. London: SAGE.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Central text for what Beck calls “reflexive modernization,” highlighting a “secondary,” self-referential condition of modernity—readable in many ways as an alternative to the concept of “postmodernity” —in distinction to “classical” or “high modernity” from the period of the later 19th century down to the 1960s. Originally published in 1986.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Based on anthropological fieldwork in Algeria, this book elaborates Bourdieu’s influential thinking about “habitus,” referring to the distinct sets of attitudes, accomplishments, and habits determining how particular classes, cultures, or social groups behave in the world and look upon the world. Originally published in 1972.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bourdieu, Pierre. 2010. Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                The main text for Bourdieu’s work on concept of “cultural capital,” here identifying the import of the benefits of education, informal knowledge, status, and cultural distinction used by their bearers in an analogous manner to economic capital for purposes of long-term social advantage. Originally published in 1979.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The constitution of society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Outlines the author’s theory of “structuration” involving synthesis of the concepts of structure and agency, referring to the process by which a social system is reproduced by individual actors through the mediation of social structures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Habermas, Jürgen. 1988. Structural transformation of the public sphere. Cambridge, MA: Polity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Elaborates Habermas’s influential presentation of the public sphere as the set of institutions, forums, and agencies in civil society that mediate between private economic interests on the one hand and state administrative interests of order and control on the other hand. In Habermas’s normative definition, the public sphere ought to consist in what Immanuel Kant defined as the “free use of public reason,” based on unmanipulated autonomous democratic communication. Originally published in 1962.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Habermas, Jürgen. 1984–1987. The theory of communicative action. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In this central contribution to modernization theory, Habermas unfolds the concept of “communicative rationality,” denoting the normative primacy of noninstrumental, nonstrategic social relations oriented to forms of argumentative agreement and understanding through reasoned dialogue between actors: emphasizing the role of language and everyday linguistic competence in the shaping of social relations toward morally acceptable rational ends. Originally published in 1981.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Luhmann, Niklas. 1995. Social systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Depicts society as consisting not of individuals or institutions but of systems and subsystems related to one another in complex modes and processes of informational. communication. Luhmann’s concepts of systemic “distinction,” “self-reference,” and “autopoeisis” denote the manner in which a social dynamic refers to itself in the act of referring to anything that is not itself. Originally published in 1984.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • MacCarthy, Thomas. 1978. The critical theory of Jürgen Habermas. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The best introduction to the early work of Habermas, covering Habermas’s emerging thinking about communication in the 1960s and 1970s, but not the author’s more recent work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rash, William. 2000. Niklas Luhmann’s modernity: The paradoxes of differentiation. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            A very helpful introduction, usefully deciphering the difficult technical vocabulary deployed by Luhmann.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Globalization

                                                                                                                                                                                                            “Globalization” has dominated debate in the social sciences and humanities and general public discussion since the early 1990s. Theorists have stressed that the complex bundle of processes denoted by the term were not to be assimilated simply to forms of Western global economic, political, and cultural domination, or to “Americanization” (e.g., Apparadurai 1996). But while unmistakably significant structural transformations have occurred over the last twenty years, marked notably by the rising global power of the Asian economies of China and India—to name just one key phenomenon—early emphases on aspects of global interconnectivity, diversity, hybridity, and intercultural complexity and high expectations for far-reaching effects of decentring of Western power advantages have met increasingly with skepticism in the last few years. For an excellent guide to these debates, see Held and McGrew 2000. The insight has grown such that degrees of institutional standardization and of conformity to hegemonic governmental patterns and policy norms are not to be underestimated (e.g., Meyer, et al. 1997; and Wallerstein 1974–1989). Major debates have turned around the meaning of the “transnational” (in distinction to the “international”), referring not to relatively well-regulated relationships between nation-states or between institutions more or less directly answerable to their home nation-states but to emergent, often unregulated, relationships, exchanges, and flows of mobile capital, people, commodities, and information across nation-state boundaries (see Sassen 2001). Wide-ranging contributions have been directed toward problems of “methodological nationalism” (the idea that social science goes astray in taking national societies and nation-states as basic units of analysis) and generally of Eurocentrism or Western-centred macrological foci in social-historical developmental narratives (e.g., Wimmer and Glick-Schiller 2002). Central themes have touched on fusions and interactions between simultaneously global and local processes, as well as flows and the crossing, melting, subversion, and forcible (re)imposition of borders and boundaries (e.g., Castells 1996–2000, Urry 2002). A pioneering sociological extension of the paradigm of globalization to intellectual history is Collins 2000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Illuminating study of phenomena of cultural hybridization, interconnectivity, creolization, and recursive feedback flows between power centers and marginal areas and groups on the plane of cultural communication and symbolic goods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Castells, Manuel. 1996–2000. The information age: Economy, society and culture. 3 vols. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thematizes the significance of and the network society, information, and communications technology, globalized cities and finance-based economies, and regional and cultural identity movements reacting to the threats and challenges of diffuse change experienced as coming from an alien, exterior, or predatory world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Collins, Randall. 2000. The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Applies the concept of globalization to a study of global intellectual history from antiquity to the present day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Held, David, and Anthony McGrew. 2000. The global transformations reader: An introduction to the globalization debate. Malden, MA: Polity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the most useful comprehensive guides to the subject; see especially the introductory chapter titled “The Great Globalization Debate.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Meyer, John, John Boli, George Thomas, and Francisco Ramirez. 1997. World society and the nation state. American Journal of Sociology 103:144–181.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/231174Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Explores the phenomenon of a “world society” in which the post–World War II era national governments face pressure to conform to global norms on such matters as human rights, democracy, education, environmental standards, statistical data collection and reporting, and the like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sassen, Saskia. 2001. The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Detailed case-study analysis of the exemplary significance of globalized cities led by high-finance economies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Urry, John. 2002. Global complexity. Oxford, UK: Polity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Develops ideas about flows, “scapes,” mobility, networks, and time-space compression as key features of the experience of globalization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974–1989. The modern world-system. 3 vols. New York: Academic Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In this influential series of volumes, predating the emergence of globalization as a self-conscious agenda in the 1990s, Wallerstein analyzes processes of global historical social change in terms of exploitative relationships between economically dominant regional “centers” and relatively undeveloped or disadvantaged regional “peripheries” or “semi-peripheries.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Wimmer, Andreas, and Nina Glick-Schiller. 2002. Methodological nationalism and beyond. Global Networks 2.4: 301–334.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of many informative reference points for the debate about “methodological nationalism.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Developments Since 2000

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If it can be said that theoretical controversies in the social sciences in the 1980s and 1990s revolved first predominantly around debates about modernity and “postmodernism” and then moved to an overriding focus on concepts and experiences of “globalization,” a strong case can be made for religious, ethical, and axiological inquiries as a third paradigmatic key of investigation since the turn of the millennium. Unquestionably spectacular events on the global stage have brought matters of religion to the forefront of public and academic attention in recent years. Noisy disputes in the mass media about Islam and the West, about religious education and the wearing of religious clothing in schools, about diversity politics, citizenship and free speech, and fears of global terrorism have all placed religion inescapably in the limelight. In contrast to the mid-20th century, academic thinking in the early 21st century increasingly recognizes the significance of religion as a possible vehicle or medium of forms and processes of modernity, rather than as an inevitable obstacle to such processes. A growing body of empirical and theoretical work now points to a conclusion about the amenability rather than sheer resistance of religious heritage to modern projects of enlightened self-understanding and human collective self-determination. Some major intellectual contributions of the last ten years have revolved around the pinpointing of variant trajectories of modern societal, cognitive and religious evolution, each starting from different autochthonous global centres (e.g., Eisenstadt 2000, Taylor 2007, Bellah 2005, and Arjomand and Tiryakian 2004). World history on this understanding offers examples of a variety of processes of societal differentiation between political and religious institutional and intellectual forms, all of them divergent in important ways from the specifically occidental phenomenon of secularization experienced by Judeo-Christian western Europe and North America. Another prominent body of work of the last decade has come from the side of left-wing anticapitalist cultural critique, represented by works such as Hardt and Negri 2000 to Agamben 1998, Badiou 2007, Boltanski and Chiapello 2007, and Žižek (see above, Psychoanalytic Social Theory). Much of this work is also sympathetic to the rediscovery of religious, theological, and deep-seated civilizational cognitive heritage as repositories of socially transformative normative energies. But this work is also deeply skeptical of the mobilization of such resources where the effect is simply one of ideological stabilization and legitimation of existing global orders of inequality, exploitation, and injustice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Agamben, Giorgio. 1998. Homo sacer: Sovereign power and bare life. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Much-discussed analysis of the depoliticizing tendencies of global mainstream human rights discourse, arguing that humanitarian legal and moral discourse in international relations and the “international community” obscures real relations of power, hegemony, and conflict between states. Originally published in 1995.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Arjomand, Said. A., and Edward A. Tiryakian, eds. 2004. Rethinking civilizational analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An illuminating collection of essays on the newfound significance of the macro-sociological concept of “civilizations” and of “civilizational differences” between regional sites of global social change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Badiou, Alain. 2007. Being and event. New York: Continuum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Influential left-wing philosophical manifesto for the rejection of postmodernism as masking a merely conformist variety of cultural and political liberalism. The “event” for Badiou is the decisive moment of political insight in historical time that recognizes the objective necessity of total emancipatory social change. Originally published in 1988.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bellah, Robert. 2005. What is axial about the Axial Age? Archives européenes de sociologie / European Journal of Sociology 46:69–89.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0003975605000032Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Following Eisenstadt’s conception of “multiple modernities” and of “axial “civilizations,” Bellah identifies different pathways of modern societal and institutional development, each inflected by different religiously significant founding “transcendental visions”—from Japan to China to the Middle East to the Atlantic West.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Boltanski, Luc, and Ève Chiapello. 2007. The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One of the most influential and systematic analyses of contemporary neo-liberal capitalist flexible employment practices, examining how the 1960s counterculture led to the hegemony of entrepreneurialism and “creative capitalism” as norms for the reorganization of Western political economy and the retreat of social democracy and egalitarian politics at the end of the 20th century. Originally published in 1999.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Eisenstadt, Shmuel. 2000. Multiple modernities. Daedalus 129.1: 1–29.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Inaugural article for the program of “multiple modernities” developed by the Israeli comparative historical sociologist of civilizations, critical of the Eurocentric habit of unjustifiably extending the validity of European or Western developmental historical experiences to all societies and civilizations of the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An enthusiastic statement of the potential emancipatory agency of local “multitudes” over against global threats of economic and cultural imperialism; a central intellectual reference point for global anticapitalist social and political movements at the beginning of the new millennium.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Taylor, Charles. 2007. A secular age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An influential work in the rethinking and redefining of secularity and secularization as alleged universal accompaniments to processes, experiences, and normative ideas of modernity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find this resource:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              back to top

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Article

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Up

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Down