Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing: Bridging the Divide

Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing: Bridging the Divide

by Nicos P. Mouzelis
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0521515858

ISBN-13: 9780521515856

Pub. Date: 12/31/2008

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

There is a growing conflict between modern and postmodern social theorists. The latter reject modern approaches as economistic, essentialist and often leading to authoritarian policies. Modernists Criticize postmodern approaches for their rejection of holistic conceptual frameworks which facilitate an overall picture of how social wholes (organizations, communities

Overview

There is a growing conflict between modern and postmodern social theorists. The latter reject modern approaches as economistic, essentialist and often leading to authoritarian policies. Modernists Criticize postmodern approaches for their rejection of holistic conceptual frameworks which facilitate an overall picture of how social wholes (organizations, communities, nation-states, etc.) are constituted, reproduced and transformed. They believe the rejection of holistic methodologies leads to social myopia-a refusal to explore critically the type of broad problems that classical sociology deals with. This book attempts to bridge the divide between these two conflicting perspectives and proposes a novel holistic framework which is neither reductionist/economistic nor essentialist. Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing will appeal to scholars and students of social theory and of social sciences in general.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521515856
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
12/31/2008
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

List of figures page xii

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction 1

Part I The theoretical background: the development of the agency-structure problematic 7

1 From Parsons' to Giddens' synthesis 9

Introduction 9

1 Parsonian functionalism: the emphasis on system/structure 12

2 Interpretative micro-sociologies: the emphasis on agency 15

3 The rational-choice paradigm 17

4 Decentring the subject I: hidden codes 21

5 Decentring the subject II: subjectless practices 24

6 Decentring the subject III: texts 27

7 Transcending the subjectivist-objectivist divide: attempts at a post-Parsonian synthesis 34

8 The overall abolition of boundaries 38

Conclusion 39

Part II Parsonian and post-Parsonian developments 41

2 Parsons and the development of individual rights 43

1 T.H. Marshall: civil, political and social rights 43

2 T. Parsons: rights and revolutions 45

3 Differentiation and the mechanisms of change 49

4 Integration: balanced and unbalanced forms 51

Conclusion 54

3 Evolution and democracy: Parsons and the collapse of communism 57

1 Evolutionary universals 57

2 The limits of modernization from above 61

3 Some critical remarks 62

4 Post-Parsonian theory I: neo-functionalism and beyond 65

Introduction 65

1 The theory of action 67

2 The theory of culture 68

3 Action and culture: a critical assessment 70

4 The theory of civil society 73

5 The basic dilemma in the conceptualization of civil society 74

Conclusion 77

Postscript: Alexander's cultural sociology 78

Introduction 78

1 On the conceptualization of culture 79

2 The environments of action 81

3 Cultural narratives assecond-order discourses 84

Conclusion 85

5 Post-Parsonian theory II: beyond the normative and the utilitarian 86

Introduction 86

1 Three problematic presuppositions 87

2 Constitutive theories of action and systemic theories of differentiation 89

3 Some critical remarks 90

Conclusion 94

Part III Agency and structure: reworking some basic conceptual tools 95

6 Social and system integration: Lockwood, Habermas and Giddens 97

1 Lockwood 97

2 Habermas 101

3 Giddens 104

Conclusion 105

7 The subjectivist-objectivist divide: against transcendence 107

1 On the concept of social structure 108

2 The impasse of transcendence strategies 115

3 A concrete example: the reproduction of the LSE as a social system 121

4 Concluding remarks: bridging rather than transcending the divide 127

8 Habitus and reflexivity: restructuring Bourdieu's theory of practice 131

Introduction 131

1 Dispositions, positions, and interactions 132

2 Reflexivity 133

3 Bourdieu's conception of the subject 136

4 Restructuring the SDP scheme 139

Part IV Bridges between modern and late/postmodern theorizing 143

9 Modernity: a non-Eurocentric conceptualization 145

Introduction 145

1 Modernity: mobilization/incorporation into the centre 147

2 Modernity: institutional differentiation 148

3 Modernity: a non-Eurocentric conceptualization 154

4 Modernity and the West 156

5 Variants of modernity 156

6 Late modernity and globalization 159

Conclusion 161

10 Ethical relativism: between scientism and cultural relativism 164

1 The golden rule perspective 164

2 On the self-evidence of the golden rule 166

3 Basic assumptions and difficulties of the relativist position 167

4 Stepping stones towards growing socio-cultural interpenetration 169

5 Eurocentrism 171

Conclusion 173

11 Cognitive relativism: between positivistic and relativistic thinking in the social sciences 175

1 Objectivity and the issue of mediation 175

2 The postmodern critique of representation and empirical evidence 178

3 The 'internality' of a discipline's subject matter 183

Conclusion 188

12 Social causation: between social constructionism and critical realism 191

Introduction 191

1 The Harré thesis 192

2 Giddens' conflationist strategy 197

3 Archer's anti-conflationist strategy 199

4 Articulation of agentic and structural properties 206

Conclusion 211

Part V Towards a non-essentialist holism 215

13 Grand narratives: contextless and context-sensitive theories 217

1 'Grand narratives': context-sensitive and insensitive 217

2 Holistic conceptual frameworks: open and closed 221

3 Non-essentialist holism: three types of openness 224

14 The actor-structure dimension: anti-conflationist holism 225

Introduction 225

1 Structures and actors 226

2 On the linkages between the causal powers of actors and of structures 232

15 The micro-macro dimension: anti-essentialist holism 237

Introduction 237

1 Strong and weak types of essentialism 237

2 Interpretative sociologies: obstacles to micro-macro bridges 249

3 Three guidelines for bridging micro and macro approaches 253

16 The inter-institutional dimension: beyond economism and culturalism 261

1 Economism 261

2 Culturalism and the priority of the lifeworld: from Marx to Parsons and Habermas 266

3 Beyond economism and systemic culturalism 270

Instead of Conclusion: Twelve rules for the construction of an open-ended holistic paradigm 274

The actor-structure dimension: anti-conflationist holism 274

The micro-macro dimension: anti-essentialist holism 275

The inter-institutional dimension: anti-economistic holism 276

Appendix. In defence of 'grand' historical sociology 279

1 The conflation of history and sociology 279

2 The comparison with Spencer 280

3 On the tenuous linkages between evidence and interpretation 281

4 On the arbitrary character of grand historical sociology's interpretations 283

References 285

Index 299

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