Critical Theory in Political Practice

Critical Theory in Political Practice

by Stephen T. Leonard
     
 

In the social sciences and humanities it is fashionable to use the language of a critical theory of society. While orthodoxy in these disciplines has often meant a commitment to the advancement of objective knowledge, to understanding the world "as it really is," critical theory has usually involved attempts to reveal the philosophical incoherence and political

Overview

In the social sciences and humanities it is fashionable to use the language of a critical theory of society. While orthodoxy in these disciplines has often meant a commitment to the advancement of objective knowledge, to understanding the world "as it really is," critical theory has usually involved attempts to reveal the philosophical incoherence and political perniciousness of that commitment. The social disciplines, according to advocates of critical theory, must play a role in changing the world so as to help emancipate those on the margins of society by providing them with insights and intellectual tools. In a provocative study of critical social theory, Stephen Leonard takes these emancipatory goals as standards against which critical theory must be judged.

Leonard shows how such goals are established but not met by those thinkers usually associated with the idea of a critical theory--such as Marx, the members of the Frankfurt School, Habermas, and Foucault. Drawing on examples of "critical theory in practice," he shows how dependency theory, Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy, liberation theology, and feminist theory contribute to a clearer understanding of how social and political emancipation can be pursued in ways that are philosophically rigorous and theoretically sound.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Identified as a revised and updated edition of the 1987 book, though the areas of revision are not specified. The author attempts to put in perspective America's fear of crime and the political repercussions of that fear. Leonard (political science, U. of N. Carolina) presents an historical and analytical reconstruction of the idea of a critical theory as it is found in Marx, the Frankfurt School, Habermas, and Foucault. Subsequently, he focuses on four social theories that move beyond modernist and postmodernist critical theory: dependency theory, Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy, liberation theology, and feminist theory. He goes on to argue that the idea of a critical theory is one we ignore at our own intellectual and political peril. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691078403
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
10/30/1990
Pages:
319
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.58(h) x 1.03(d)

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