Facing modernity: ambivalence, reflexivity, and morality

Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications (1999)
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Abstract

`In the grand tradition of classical social theory, Barry Smart challenges us to face up to the ambivalences of the contemporary moment and to take responsibility for our individual and social existence' - Douglas Kellner, University of California, Los Angeles ` a brilliant excursus through modern social theory, Smart’s book should be read and re-read for its careful analysis of the dilemmas of morality in postmodernism' - Bryan S. Turner, Deakin University Through a critical discussion of the 'ambivalent fruits' of social analysis, exemplified in particular by the work of Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo, Beck, Bourdieu, Goffman, Giddens, Levinas and Bauman, this book submits that an important responsibility of social enquiry today is to engage critically with the moral difficulties and ethical dilemmas which have arisen in relation to modernity. Facing Modernity offers a wide-ranging analysis of the ways in which issues of reflexivity, ethics and moral responsibility inform social and political thought. This is illustrated with the examples of risk society, modern forms of subjectivity and the problematic relationship between care of the self and a concern for others, the fashioning of the body, the idea and the practice of justice, and the communitarian call to regulate the pursuit of self interest and rediscover 'community'. A comprehensive overview of the ambiguities and moral dilemmas of modernity, this book will be essential reading for students of sociology, social theory and cultural studies.

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