Autonomy and tradition: a critique of the sociological and philosophical foundations of giddens's utopian realism

This article examines the theoretical background to Giddens?s programme of ?utopian realism?. It begins by looking at the way in which Giddens defines this programme in the context of social welfare. We then turn to a more detailed discussion of the theoretical presuppositions of ?utopian realism?, focusing first on Giddens?s reworking of Durkheimian autonomy, and second, on his reclamation of the conservative idea of tradition as propounded by Michael Oakeshott. The critical focus of my argument rests on the philosophical claims Giddens makes for the sociology of morals. In this respect, I find his diagnosis of the discontents of modernity no less wanting than his proposed solution
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DOI 10.1080/1369823042000269375
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