In this ground-breaking new text, Patrick Baert analyses the central perspectives in the philosophy of social science, critically investigating the work of Durkheim, Weber, Popper, critical realism, critical theory, and Rorty's neo pragmatism. Places key writers in their social and political contexts, helping to make their ideas meaningful to students. Shows how these authors’ views have practical uses in empirical research. Lively approach that makes complex ideas understandable to upper-level students, as well as having scholarly appeal.
This article introduces a new, performative framework for analysing intellectuals and intellectual interventions. It elaborates on the strengths of this theoretical perspective vis-à-vis rival approaches and develops this frame of reference by exploring key constituent concepts, including positioning, script and staging. The article then exemplifies the framework and demonstrates its applicability by exploring a public intellectual performance by Jean-Paul Sartre. To conclude, the article reflects on recent shifts in public intellectual performances, especially changes that are relatively durable and connected to (...) the rise of new media. (shrink)
This article sets out the basic principles of a new theory of intellectual interventions centred round the notion of positioning. Intellectual interventions are seen as ways in which intellectuals locate themselves in the socio-political and intellectual field, thereby also positioning others. The existing contributions to the study of intellectuals often take the self-concepts or dispositions of intellectuals to be fixed, and they tend to focus on the causes and motivations behind intellectual interventions. Challenging this perspective, the theory proposed substitutes a (...) vocabulary of effects for the existing vocabulary of intentions and causes: rather than speculating on the sociological determinants or purposes that underlie an intellectual intervention, this theory explores its effects for the symbolic and institutional recognition of the author(s) and for the diffusion of the ideas propagated. (shrink)
"I think this is an outstanding book. The coverage is comprehensive, the lines of thought and exposition are clear, and the level of discussion is very high yet remarkably lively and accessible. It has an underlying intellectual seriousness and engagement which shines out through the individual chapters, and the author's unwillingness to make do with secondary analyses and received ideas gives it a strength and freshness of approach which is extremely welcome." -- Professor William Outhwaite, University of Sussex Social Theory (...) in the Twentieth Century offers an easy-to-read but provocative account of the development of social theory. Patrick Baert covers a wide range of key figures and schools of thought, including Giddens, Foucault and Habermas. Written in a lively style and avoiding jargon, this book is aimed at students who wish to understand the main debates and dilemmas driving social theory. Rather than providing a neutral summary of the different thinkers and theories, Baert challenges the conventional readings of social theory with new and original interpretations. In effect, he bridges the gap between philosophy and social theory by placing the theoretical views within wider historical traditions. Social Theory in the Twentieth Century will undoubtedly become the standard introduction to social theory for students in sociology, politics, and anthropology. (shrink)
One hundred years of French social theory : from structuralism to pragmatism -- The biological metaphor : functionalism and neo-functionalism -- The enigma of everyday life : symbolic interactionism, the dramaturgical approach and ethnomethodology -- The invasion of economic man : from rational choice theory to the new institutionalism -- Sociology meets history : Giddens's theory of modernity -- The history and the present : Foucault's archaeology and genealogy -- The spread of reason : Habermas's critical theory and beyond -- (...) A brave new world? : the empirical turn in social theory -- Conclusion : social theory for the twenty-first century. (shrink)
This paper explores themethodological consequences of AmericanPragmatism for the social sciences. It alsocriticises some rival perspectives onmethodology of social research, in particularfalsificationist, realist and someanti-naturalist views. It is argued thatAmerican Pragmatism shows striking affinitieswith the genealogical method of history and thereflexive turn in cultural anthropology. It isalso argued that Pragmatism forces us to thinkdifferently about the relationship betweentheory and empirical research.
This article introduces and critically analyses Richard Rorty’s neo-pragmatism as a contribution to the philosophy of social sciences. Although Rorty has written little about philosophy of social sciences as such, it is argued that his overall philosophical position has significant ramifications for this subject area. The first part of the article sets out the implications of Rorty’s neo-pragmatism for various issues in the philosophy of social sciences, for instance, the doctrine of naturalism, the nineteenth-century Methodenstreit, the philosophical tenets of Marxism, (...) and the relatively recent wave of post-structuralism. The second part presents a constructive critique of Rorty’s neopragmatist philosophy of social sciences. Although critical of some aspects of Rorty’s argument, it is argued that his stance could provide a base for a fruitful view of social sciences, aiming at enlarging human potentialities rather than representation. (shrink)
This article is one of the first sociological explorations of power struggles between intellectuals where matters of life and death are literally at stake. It counters the prevailing tendency within sociology to study intellectuals within confined academic institutions where power struggles are limited to matters of symbolic and institutional recognition. This study explores the conflict between collaborationist and Resistance intellectuals at the end of the Second World War in France, and it focuses in particular on the purge of collaborationist intellectuals (...) which culminated in several high profile trials. This article shows that the arguments and meta-arguments put forward in these trials led to broader intellectual debates outside the courtroom. These debates not only centred on the notion of the writer’s responsibility, but also dealt with anxieties about the disintegrative forces of modern society. Whereas collaborationist intellectuals portrayed their writing as either separate from politics or rescuing a defunct or degenerate nation, Resistance intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre were keen to portray collaborators as outsiders, both socially and sexually, lacking in social integration and subservient to a strong external force. The Resistance intellectuals saw the notion of individual responsibility not as antithetical but as integral to the remaking of the French nation, and this concept would become the cornerstone of the reshaping of the intellectual landscape in the post-war era in France. (shrink)
In this book, fifteen authors from a wide spectrum of disciplines (ranging from the natural sciences to the arts) offer assessments of the way time enters their work, the definition and uses of time that have proved most productive or problematic, and the lessons their subjects can offer for our understanding of time beyond the classroom and laboratory walls. The authors have tried, without sacrificing analytical rigour, to make their contribution accessible to a cross-disciplinary readership. Each chapter reviews time's past (...) and present application in its respective field, considers the practical and logical problems that remain, and assesses the methods researchers are using to escape or resolve them. Particular attention is paid to ways in which the technical treatment of time, for problem-solving and model-building around specific phenomena, call on - or clash with - our intuitive perceptions of what time is and does. The spans of time considered range from the fractions of seconds it takes unstable particles to disintegrate to the millions of years required for one species to give way to another. Like all central conceptual words, time is understood on several levels. By inviting input from a broad range of disciplines, the book aims to provide a fuller understanding of those levels, and of the common ground that lurks at their base. Much agreement emerges - not only on the nature of the problems time presents to modern intellectual thought, but also on the clues that recent discoveries may offer towards possible solutions. (shrink)
In this article, we offer a new conceptualization of intellectuals as carriers of cultural trauma through a case study of the Aum Affair, a series of crimes and terrorist attacks committed by the Japanese new religious movement Aum Shinrikyō. In understanding the performative roles intellectuals play in trauma construction, we offer a new dichotomy between “authoritative intellectuals,” who draw on their privileged parcours and status to impose a distinct trauma narrative, and “dialogical intellectuals,” who engage with local actors dialogically to (...) produce polyphonic and open-ended trauma narratives. We identify three dimensions of dialogical intellectual action: firstly, the intellectuals may be involved in dialogue with local participants; secondly, the intellectual products themselves may be dialogical in content; and thirdly, there might be a concerted effort on the part of the intellectuals to record and to disseminate dialogue between local participants. In the context of the Aum Affair, we analyze the works of Murakami Haruki and Mori Tatsuya as dialogical intellectuals while they sought, with the help of local actors’ experiences, to challenge and to alter the orthodox trauma narrative of Aum Shinrikyō as exclusively a social evil external to Japanese society and an enemy to be excluded from it. Towards the end of the article, we discuss the broader significance of this case study and suggest that in light of recent societal and technological developments, the role and scope of dialogical intellectuals as carriers of trauma are changing and possibly expanding. (shrink)
Underlying this article is the conviction that social scientists typically take on board a too restrictive concept of knowledge acquisition. The paper propounds a new concept of knowledge acquisition, one which is self-referential (i.e. which affects one's presuppositions) and which draws upon the unfamiliar to reveal and undercut the familiar. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it is to show that this concept of knowledge acqui sition is already anticipated by Foucault, that it is a major concern of (...) his, and that it is a common thread throughout his work. Consequently, a new light can be thrown on both Foucault's archaeology and his genealogy: both are directed towards a self-referential form of knowledge, and as such the two periods are shown to have more in common than conventionally assumed. Second (and conversely), the aim of the paper is to elucidate this self-referential type of knowledge by showing how it is used by Foucault. Key Words: archaeology Foucault genealogy history methodology Nietzsche past philosophy of social sciences present structuralism. (shrink)
Drawing on Austin’s speech act theory and on related theories of performativity and positioning, this article analyses the public confessions during the 1990s by three prominent state actors in Turkey about their direct involvement in state crimes against Kurds and left-wing political opponents. All three cases received significant media attention at the time. The aim of the article is not only to shed new light on those specific confessions by the perpetrators within the Turkish context, but also to develop further (...) theoretical insights into the phenomenon of public confessions as such. Whilst confessions of this kind are often welcomed and portrayed as truth-statements that are cathartic and enable society to move forward, this analysis demonstrates that the reality is often more complex as the confessions in question tend to go hand in hand with a disavowal of individual responsibility by the perpetrators involved. (shrink)
After situating Andreas Reckwitz’s The Society of Singularities within the broader context of the tradition of social theory, we discuss in detail the obvious strengths of this book, notably its impressive range and originality. Subsequently, we elaborate on two limitations of Reckwitz’s argument. Firstly, we argue that Reckwitz’s use of categories such as ‘singularity’ and ‘universality’ is too all-embracing, lacking the clarity and focus needed to sustain a productive line of inquiry. Secondly, and related to the previous point, we contend (...) that Reckwitz’s claims about the recent trend towards increasing singularity are so broad that they are difficult to refute empirically. Further, we discuss briefly contemporary political developments to demonstrate why the core societal issues at stake cannot be explained through all-inclusive categories such as singularity. Finally, we maintain that existence theory can provide an alternative fruitful perspective on some of the phenomena discussed in this book. (shrink)