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The Polity Reader in Social Theory

  • ID: 2246924
  • Book
  • 416 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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This book provides a comprehensive and integrated introduction to the major debates and schools of thought in social theory today. Some thirty different selections cover the period from the turn of the century up to the present.

Classical social thought is well represented: Marx and Weber, Simmel, Mead and the Frankfurt School are among those included in this volume. The main emphasis of the text, however, is upon current social theory, its main lines of orientation, and the dominant areas of controversy and advance. Problems of method and epistemology are given some prominence; however, most of the contributions are substantive in character and are concerned with the theoretical interpretation of modern social institutions.

The authors represented, or discussed, in the volume include all of the most prominent figures in current social theory – for instance, Zygmunt Bauman, Nancy Chodorow, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Harold Garfinkel, Anthony Giddens, Jürgen Habermas, Agnes Heller, Richard Rorty and H. G. Gadamer.

Each section of the volume is preceded by an introduction which summarizes the articles that it contains. The result is a source book which is invaluable for anyone interested in the development of social theory today.
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Part I: Some Schools of Social Theory: Marx and Weber to Gadamer and Ricoeur.

1. Capitalism and Socialism: Weber's Dialogue with Marx (Wolfgang J. Mommsen).

2. Georg Simmel: Modernity as an Eternal Present (David Frisby).

3. The Social and Political Thought of Antonio Gramsci (Richard Bellamy).

4. The World in a Text: Levi Strauss's Tristes Tropiques (Clifford Geertz).

5. Althusser and the Problem of Determinations (Michelle Barrett).

6. Gadamer and Ricoeur on Hermeneutics (Susan Hekman).

Part II: Solidarity, Interaction and Social Practice.

7. What is Ethnomethodology? (Harold Garfinkel).

8. Erving Goffman on Ritual and Solidarity in Social Life (Randall Collins).

9. Elements of the Theory of Structuration (Anthony Giddens).

10. Institutional Reflexivity and Modernity (Anthony Giddens).

11. Structures, Habitus and Practices (Pierre Bourdieu).

12. Social Space and Symbolic Power (Pierre Bourdieu).

13. Rational Choice Theory (John Elster).

Part III: Critical Theory of Modernity.

14. Ideology and Modern Culture (John Thompson).

15. The Tasks of a Critical Theory (Jürgen Habermas).

16. The Normative Content of Modernity (Jürgen Habermas).

17. Habermas and Lyotard (Richard Rorty).

18. Foucault and Marxism (Mark Poster).

Part IV: Feminism, Gender and Subjectivity.

19. Foucault, Feminism and the Body (Lois McNay).

20. The Case of Habermas and Gender (Nancy Fraser).

21. Feminism and Modernism (Janet Wolff).

22. Post–post–modernism? Theorising Gender (Sylvia Walby).

23. Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (Nancy Chodorow).

24. Death of the Subject? (Agnes Heller).

Part V: Modernity, Democracy, Social Movements.

25. The End of Organized Capitalism (Scott Lash and John Urry).

26. World Systems Analysis (Immanuel Wallerstein).

27. Surveillance and Modernity (Christopher Dandeker).

28. The Future of Democracy (Noberto Bobbio).

29. What Should Democracy Mean Today? (David Held).

30. Democracy: From City States to a Cosmopolitan Order? (David Held).

31. Class, Environmental and Social Movements (Boris Frankel).

32. Ecological Communication (Niklas Luhmann).

33. The Green Political Programme (Robert Goodin).

34. The Naturalistic Fallacy of the Ecological Movement (Ulrich Beck).

Part VI: Modernity and Postmodernity.

35. Modernity and Ambivalence (Zygmunt Bauman).

36. The Consumer Society (Jean Baudrillard).

37. The Post–Modern: A Transparent Society? (Gianno Vattimo).

38. Against Postmodernism (Alex Callinicos).

39. Modernity and the Holocaust (Zygmunt Bauman)
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'A useful ... teaching resource ... these short extracts immerse the readers into some of the important contemporary issues ... a welcome addition to the introductory literature, especially since it surveys such a wide range of influential work across the spectrum of contemporary social theory.'
John Newton Hewitt, the University of Melbourne
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