Theorizing Modernity: Inescapability and Attainability in Social Theory


Peter Wagner

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    This book is in many respects a sequel to A Sociology of Modernity (Wagner, 1994a). It tries to spell out some of those conceptual issues that had remained implicit or that were not sufficiently clarified at all. Work on this book proceeded slowly and has found some intermediate outcomes on which I draw (and to which I refer as follows): on Friese and Wagner, 1999a for the overall argument, on Wagner, 1995 for Chapter 1, on Wagner, 1998a for Chapter 2, on Wagner, 1998b for Chapter 3, and on Wagner, 1999a for Chapter 5. Parallel to the work on this book, I have continued investigations in the history and the philosophy of the social sciences, the results of which are scheduled to be published at about the same time as this book (Wagner, 2001).

    Johann Arnason, Heidrun Friese, Hans Joas, Petr Lorn, Björn Wittrock and Bernard Yack have read the entire manuscript and provided critical comments, for which I am very grateful. If I have in a number of cases not been able to take up their suggestions and address their criticisms, I hope to respond to them in a more adequate way in the future. I have also greatly benefited from discussing these ideas with the doctoral students at the Social Theory Centre at the University of Warwick and in seminars of the Centre. My intellectual indebtedness to Heidrun Friese is, to everybody who knows her work, too evident for words. Chapter 4, in particular, owes many of its reflections to discussions with her.

    The terms inescapability and attainability are borrowed from Charles Taylor and Stanley Cavell respectively; the full references can be found in Chapter 3.

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