Restless Ideas

Restless Ideas

Contemporary Social Theory in An Anxious Age

Book - 2020
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Restless Ideas is a lively new textbook of contemporary social theory that speaks directly to the anxious age in which we live today. In addition to providing a highly readable guided tour of major social theories from the mid-20th to the early 21st century, this book is full of dynamic examples that show how these theories may be used to deepen our understanding of current events and of our own life experiences. The emergence of demagogic political leaders like Donald Trump in the USA, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey; the rise of religious fundamentalism, terrorism, and political populism; the digital echo-chamber of social media; and the underlying causes of Brexit are only some of the many current social issues that can be framed through contemporary social theories. Similarly, the politics of sexual, racial and ethnic minorities can be analyzed through the prism of theoretical perspectives such as queer theory, standpoint and intersectional theory, postcolonial theory and critical race theory, while the ongoing struggles for gender equality and gender justice can usefully be examined through the generational perspectives of feminist theories. This book sets the stage with a critical discussion of the loaded history of the social theory canon and makes the argument that there has never been a better time than the present to broaden our understanding of our shared global heritage of social theory, to include some of the formerly excluded classics of past social thinkers, and to open the doors to current social thinkers theorizing from the margins. The book traces the modern roots of contemporary social theory back to the works of the early structural functionalists, systems theorists, conflict theorists, symbolic interactionists, ethnomethodologists and sociobiologists, building on and at times inverting the canon with the critical advancements to social theory. Later chapters focus on the current influence of structuration theory, third wave critical theory, postmodernism and poststructuralism, critical race theory, postcolonialism, liquid and late modernity theories, and globalization theories. These perspectives include the works of contemporary social theorists such as Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, Juliet Mitchell, Dorothy Smith, Judith Butler, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Gayatri Spivak, Homi K. Bhabha, Zygmunt Bauman, Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, Manuel Castells and Ulrich Beck. The underlying premise - and the promise - of this book is that social theory has the power to provide us with the skills for more informed observation, analysis, and empathic understanding of social behavior and social interaction. In a word: the value of social theory may be seen in how it can enhance social literacy - by deepening our understanding of the world around us, and by empowering us to become practical theorists in our own lives.
Publisher: Halifax, Nova Scotia : Fernwood Publishing, ©2020.
ISBN: 9781773630953
Characteristics: 580 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm.


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