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In a readable and spirited argument, Alexander develops the alternative of a “neo-modernist” position that defends reason from within a culturally centered perspective while remaining committed to the goal of explaining, not merely interpreting, contemporary social life. On the basis of a sweeping reinterpretation of postwar society and its intellectuals, he suggests that both antimodernist radicalism and postmodernist resignation are now in decline; a more democratic, less ethnocentric and more historically contingent universalizing social theory may thus emerge.
Developing in his first two studies a historical approach to the problem of “absent reason,” Alexander moves via a critique of Richard Rorty to construct his case for “present reason.” Finally, focusing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, he provokes the most sustained critical reflection yet on this influential thinker.
Fin de Siecle Social Theory is a tonic intervention in contemporary debates, showing how social and cultural theory can properly take the measure of the extraordinary times in which we live.
|1||Modern, Anti, Post, and Neo: How Intellectuals Have Coded, Narrated, and Explained the 'New World of Our Time'||6|
|2||Between Progress and Apocalypse: Social Theory and the Dream of Reason in the Twentieth Century||65|
|3||General Theory in the Postpositivist Mode: The 'Epistemological Dilemma' and the Search for Present Reason||90|
|4||The Reality of Reduction: The Failed Synthesis of Pierre Bourdieu||128|