Handbook of Social Theory
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Handbook of Social Theory


Other Titles:
Social Theory

© 2001 | 552 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
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This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It draws together a team of outstanding international scholars and presents an authoritative and panoramic critical survey of the field.

The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines the classical tradition. Included here are critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. This part conveys the classical tradition as a living resource in social theory, it demonstrates not only the critical significance of classical writings, but their continuing relevance.

The second part moves on to examine the terrain of contemporary social theory. The contributions discuss the significance and strengths and weaknesses of structural functionalism, recent Marxian theory, critical theory, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, ethnomethodology, exchange theory, rational choice, contemporary feminism, multiculturalism, postmodernism, the thought of Foucault and Habermas, and figurational sociology. The reader gains a comprehensive and informed picture of the key issues and central figures of the day.

The final part ranges over the key debates in current social theory. Questions relating to positivism, metatheorizing, cultural studies, consumption, sexualities, the body, globalism, nationalism, socialism, knowledge societies, ethics and morality, as well as post-social relations are fully discussed. The dilemmas and promise of contemporary social theory are revealed with pinpoint accuracy.

George Ritzer and Barry Smart
Introduction
Theorists, Theories and Theorizing  
PART ONE: CLASSICAL SOCIAL THEORY
John Rundell
Modernity, Enlightenment, Revolution and Romanticism
Creating Social Theory  
Jonathan H Turner
The Origins of Positivism
The Contributions of Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer  
Gregor McLennan
Maintaining Marx
Sam Whimster
Max Weber
Work and Interpretation  
Birgitta Nedelmann
The Continuing Relevance of Georg Simmel
Staking Out Anew the Field of Sociology  
Mike Gane
Durkheim's Project for a Sociological Science
Hans Joas
The Emergence of the New
Mead's Theory and Its Contemporary Potential  
David Kettler and Volker Meja
Karl Mannheim and the Sociology of Knowledge
John O'Neill
Psychoanalysis and Sociology
From Freudo-Marxism to Freudo-Feminism  
Patricia Madoo Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley
Classical Feminist Social Theory
PART TWO: CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL THEORY
Mark Abrahamson
Functional, Conflict and Neofunctional Theories
Robert J Holton
Talcott Parsons
Conservative Apologist or Irreplaceable Icon?  
Robert J Antonio
Nietzsche
Social Theory in the Twilight of the Millennium  
Craig Calhoun and Joseph Karaganis
Critical Theory
Richard Harvey Brown and Douglas Goodman
J[um]urgen Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action
An Incomplete Project  
Kent L Sandstrom, Daniel D Martin and Gary Alan Fine
Symbolic Interactionism at the End of the Century
Harvie Ferguson
Phenomenology and Social Theory
Wes Sharrock
Fundamentals of Ethnomethodology
Linda D Molm
Theories of Social Exchange and Exchange Networks
Douglas D Heckathorn
Sociological Rational Choice
Mary F Rogers
Contemporary Feminist Theory
Charles Lemert
Multiculturalism
Stephen Crook
Social Theory and the Postmodern
Mitchell Dean
Michel Foucault
`A Man in Danger'  
Barry Barnes
The Macro/Micro Problem and the Problem of Structure and Agency
Robert van Krieken
Norbert Elias and Process Sociology
PART THREE: ISSUES IN SOCIAL THEORY
Peter Halfpenny
Positivism in the Twentieth Century
Shanyang Zhao
Metatheorizing in Sociology
Douglas Kellner
Cultural Studies and Social Theory
A Critical Intervention  
George Ritzer, Douglas Goodman and Wendy Wiedenhoft
Theories of Consumption
Anthony Elliott
Sexualities
Social Theory and the Crisis of Identity  
Chris Shilling
The Embodied Foundations of Social Theory
Roland Robertson
Globalization Theory 2000+
Major Problematics  
Gerard Delanty
Nationalism
Between Nation and State  
Peter Beilharz
Socialism
Modern Hopes, Postmodern Shadows  
Nico Stehr
Modern Societies as Knowledge Societies
Barry Smart
Sociology, Morality and Ethics
On Being with Others  
Karin Knorr Cetina
Postsocial Relations
Theorizing Sociality in a Post-social Environment  

`This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It will be required reading for scholars and students in sociology, social philosophy and cultural studies... A genuine comprehensive treatment that provides a bridge between European and American perspectives, serving the needs of students and teachers in social sciences' - The Hindu

`Ritzer and Smart provide a judicious editorial guide to the complexities of social theory from the classics to contemporary approaches. A genuinely comprehensive treatment that provides a bridge between European and American perspectives, the Handbook will serve the needs of students and teachers in the social sciences - a laudable work of theoretical integration' - Bryan S Turner, University of Cambridge

`We are in the midst of a great change: social theory is replacing sociological theory. Ritzer and Smart make use of the time-honored device of the "Handbook" to bring order to this new, often conflicting, and often confusing, intellectual field. They bring together a sparkling array of articles by some of the best minds in contemporary sociological theory. The result is a significant clarification of the transition from sociological to social theory that we are undergoing today' - Jeffrey Alexander, University of California


This really is a super book. It provides a students with the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. The first part examines the classical tradition. With critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. The second part examines the terrain of contemporary social theory. The book then examines the key debates in current social theory. The dilemmas and promise of contemporary social theory are unwrapped to the reader in a way that allows the narrative to be followed and reflected on.

Julia Hope
Social Policy, Sociology & Social Rsch, University of Kent
December 11, 2014

Great book for all levels of students as well as academics. Short yet sophisticated definitions, easily accessible and rich in content.

Dr Hakan Ongur
Department of Political Science, TOBB University of Economic & Tech
January 22, 2014

A highly relevant and interesting book, which unfortunately shows a clear focus on US sociology, even in the choice of which European (or other) social theorists are included. It is clear that a selection must be made, and he editors are aware of the fact that their selection will almost per force lead to controversy. But the final content of topics is American-style (there is, for instance, no discussion of post-colonial studies), and that makes it only partially valuable for (continental) European (or, for that matter, Asian, African, Australian...) social theorists.

Dr Christian Dayé
Sociology , University of Graz
July 14, 2011

Useful overview of a wide range of social theories and theorists. A relevant resource for both beginner and more advanced students.

Dr Gyozo Molnar
School of Sport & Exercise Science, Worcester University
May 18, 2011

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