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Social Theory for Today
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Social Theory for Today
Making Sense of Social Worlds

  • Alex Law - University of Abertay, Dundee

© 2014 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"This book is distinctive for extending the usual sociological reach, reopening territory that has lain fallow, set aside from the well-ploughed fields of orthodox social theory. In doing so, Law not only produces fresh insight into familiar theorists but guards against collective forgetting of the sociological canon."
- Professor Bridget Fowler, University of Glasgow


"
An excellent book, it will be welcomed and read widely by advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars in sociology, cultural studies, social theory and beyond."
- Professor Chris Shilling, University of Kent


Social Theory for Today guides students through the ‘turns’ of past and present social theory as it attempts to wrestle with a recurring sense of crisis in social relations and social theory. Drawing on both classical and contemporary sources, Alex Law provides readers with a firm grasp of competing perspectives.

Too often social theories attempt to dominate the field by casting rival theorists, past and present, as deluded fools, while the more familiar ‘big names’ in social theory are subject to ever-increasing commentary that runs in ever-decreasing circles. This survey of social theory and crisis lessens the temptation to engage in internal theoretical polemics and esoteric wordplay. Social theory must become practical and specific if it is to become a means of orientation for uncertain times.

This is a must-read for upper level undergraduate and postgraduate students looking for a vibrant and extended understanding of social theory.

 
Introduction: The Narcissism of Minor Differences
 
Social Theory and Crisis
 
Positivist Turn: Auguste Comte
 
Marx’s Turn
 
Nietzsche’s Turn: Max Weber and Georg Simmel
 
Ideological Turn: Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs
 
Reflexive Turn: Otto Neurath and Empirical Sociology
 
Modernist Turn: Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer
 
Critical Turn: The Frankfurt School
 
Negative Turn: Horkheimer, Adorno and Habermas
 
Quotidian Turn: Henri Lefebvre
 
Corporeal Turn: Maurice Merleau-Ponty
 
Pragmatic Turn: Social theory in the US
 
Cultural Turn: Social Theory in France and Britain
 
Relational Turn: Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu
 
Conclusion

Pivoting on a theme appropriate to our dark times - the need to understand social crisis - this learned book reverses the conventional Parsonian focus on social order. Taking Hamlet’s brooding sense of “times out of joint” as the prism through which he approaches the modern social world, the author demonstrates throughout his exceptional breadth of knowledge, ending with a lucid and masterly comparison of  Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu. This book is distinctive for extending the usual sociological reach, reopening  territory that has lain fallow, set aside from the well-ploughed fields of orthodox social theory. In doing so, he not only produces fresh insight into familiar theorists but guards against collective forgetting of the sociological canon. The result is an illuminating work which repudiates ill-informed sniping at thinkers such as Auguste Comte, Otto Neurath, Siegfried Kracauer and Franz Borkenau, whilst  also showing the canonical figures in a new light.

Bridget Fowler
Professor of Sociology, University of Glasgow

This is a scholarly and engaging addition to the field of social theory that is focused upon the relationship between theory, crisis and history. An excellent book, it will be welcomed and read widely by advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars in sociology, cultural studies, social theory and beyond.

Chris Shilling
University of Kent

For tourism scholars who reflect seriously on the sociocultural production of meanings, how territorial development (place branding) influences the way in which people perceive themselves, how the local distribution of power marginalizes specific social groups and favors others, how cultural intangibles (social memory) are being transformed according to market rules, and how business-oriented policies are transforming differences in inequalities, Law's book is a must read.

Antonio Miguel Nogués-Pedregal, Universitas Miguel Hernandez
Tourism Culture & Communication

A very good text that covers most of the course content

Dr Shaun Le Boutillier
Dept of Humanities and Social Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University
October 11, 2016

A wonderful text that brings together classic and contemporary sources of social theory. Inspirational.

Ms Therese Alison Lewis
Faculty of Health , Social Work & Education, Northumbria University
April 12, 2016

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ISBN: 9781446209028
ISBN: 9781446209011