Understanding Contemporary Society: Theories of the Present
Publication Year: 2000
Understanding Contemporary Society: Theories of the Present is a comprehensive textbook to guide students through the complexities of social theory today. Over 30 chapters, written by an international team of contributors, demonstrate clearly the practical applications of social theory in making sense of the modern world. Students are both introduced to the most significant theories and guided through the major social developments which shape our lives. Key features of the book are: clearly structured and readable prose; bullet pointed summaries and annotated further reading for each topic; makes complex issues accessible to undergraduates; focuses on relevance and practicality; chapter lay-out which is ideal for t
- Front Matter
- Subject Index
Part I: Theories
- The Present as Post
- Chapter 2: Post-Modernism: A Guide for the Perplexed
- Chapter 3: Post-Feminism
- Chapter 4: Post-History: Living at the End
- Chapter 5: Post-Marxism
- Chapter 6: Post-Colonialism and Beyond
- Explanation and Understanding
- Chapter 7: Reflexive Modernization
- Chapter 8: Narrative
- Chapter 9: Rational Choice Theory
- Chapter 10: Complexity Theory
- Reconceiving the Political
- Chapter 11: Contemporary Liberalism
- Chapter 12: Democracy: Liberal and Direct
- Chapter 13: Communitarianism
- Chapter 14: New Thinking in International Relations Theory
- Chapter 15: Utopia and Dystopia
Part II: Themes
- Characterizing the Present
- Chapter 16: Post-Modernity
- Chapter 17: Globalization
- Chapter 18: Restructuring
- Chapter 19: Cities in the Global Economy
- Culture, Intellectuals and Media
- Chapter 20: Cultural Studies
- Chapter 21: Intellectuals
- Chapter 22: Higher Education
- Chapter 23: Mass Communication
- Chapter 24: The Web
- Pluralism and Identity
- Chapter 25: Nationalism
- Chapter 26: Islam
- Chapter 27: Cultural Pluralism Today
- Intimate Realms
- Chapter 28: Families and Households
- Chapter 29: The Body
- Chapter 30: Intimate Choices
- Trends and Movements
- Chapter 31: Environmentalism
- Chapter 32: Social Movements
- Chapter 33: Social Inequalities: Coming to Terms with Complexity
© Editorial arrangement Gary Browning, Abigail Halcli and Frank Webster 2000
© Christopher Norris
© Michèle Barrett
© Krishan Kumar
© Terrell Carver
© Don Robotham
© Ted Benton
© Susan Stephenson
© John Scott
© Tim Blackman
© Gary Browning
© Nick Hewlett
© Elizabeth Frazer
© Kimberly Hutchings
© Stephen Crook
© David Lyon
© Barrie Axford
© Andrew Kilmister
© Saskia Sassen
© Richard Maxwell
© Carl Boggs
© Frank Webster
© Kaarle Nordenstreng
© Vincent Mosco
© Murray Low
© Sarah Ansari
© Avigail Eisenberg
© Mary Maynard
© Chris Shilling
© Ken Plummer
© David Pepper
© Abigail Halcli
© Harriet Bradley
First published 2000
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission in writing from the Publishers.
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ISBN 0-7619-5925 4
ISBN 0-7619-5926 2 (pbk)
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The origins of this book lie in a series of seminars, Theories of the Present, started at Oxford Brookes University during 1995. The seminars were developed to bring together colleagues and students from a wide range of areas: Planning, Languages, Politics, Economics, Sociology, History.
Nick Hewlett played a big role in establishing these seminars and we wish to acknowledge his part in the project as a whole.
Notes on Contributors[Page x]
Sarah Ansari was appointed Lecturer in Modern Middle Eastern and World History in the History Department, Royal Holloway College, University of London in 1993. She undertook a first degree in History at London University 1979–82, thereafter completing an MA in Area Studies (South Asia) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 1982–83, and a PhD at Royal Holloway College 1983–87. She was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow 1988–91. Her major research interests are the history of Muslim South Asia, in particular the province of Sind, nowadays in Pakistan, partition-related migration in South Asia, and broader trends relating to gender in the Muslim world. Her publications include Sufi Saints and State Power: the Pirs of Sind, 1843–1947 (CUP, 1992) and articles contributed to journals such as South Asia.
Barrie Axford is Principal Lecturer in Politics at Oxford Brookes University. He has held posts at Stanford University and at the University of Southampton, and been Visiting Professor at the University of Genoa. Publications include The Global System: Economics, Politics and Culture (Polity, 1995), Politics: An Introduction (joint author) (Routledge, 1997), Unity and Diversity in the New Europe (joint editor) (Peter Lang AG, 1999) and Democratization and Democracy (joint author) (Routledge, forthcoming 2000).
Michèle Barrett has been Professor of Sociology at City University. She is currently a Professor at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. Educated at the universities of Durham and Sussex, she is the author of numerous books, including: Women's Oppression Today (Verso, 1980), Destabilising Theory: Contemporary Feminist Debates, with Anne Phillips (Polity, 1992), The Politics of Truth: From Marx to Foucault (Polity, 1992) and [Page xi]Imagination in Theory: Essays on Writing and Culture (Polity, 1998). She is a past President of the British Sociological Association.
Ted Benton is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. He is author of numerous publications on social philosophy, history of biology and, in recent years, ecological issues. Recent publications include Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights and Social Justice (Verso, 1993), Social Theory and the Global Environment (edited with M. Redclift, Routledge, 1994) and The Greening of Marxism (edited, Guilford, 1996). He is a member of the Red-Green Study Group and the newly formed Green Left coalition.
Tim Blackman is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy and Deputy Head of the School of Social Sciences and Law at Oxford Brookes University. He undertook his first degree in Geography at the University of Durham from 1976 to 1979, following which he worked in Belfast as a community worker. He returned to Durham to undertake a PhD in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy. He has taught at the University of Ulster and the University of Newcastle, and was Head of Research at Newcastle City Council from 1990 to 1995. His major research interests are in social and urban policy. He has published articles in journals such as Sociology, Journal of Social Policy and Policy and Politics and his books include Planning Belfast (Avebury, 1991) and Urban Policy in Practice (Routledge, 1996).
Carl Boggs is Professor of Social Sciences at National University in Los Angeles. He received a PhD in political science at the University of California, Berkeley in 1970. He is the author of two books on the political thought of Antonio Gramsci, The Impasse of European Communism (Westview, 1982), Social Movements and Political Power (Temple University, 1985), Intellectuals and the Crisis of Modernity (SUNY, 1993) and The Socialist Tradition (Routledge, 1995). His most recent book is The Eclipse of Politics (Guilford, forthcoming).
Harriet Bradley studied Sociology at Leicester University and gained her PhD at Durham. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Bristol University, which she joined in 1994, having formerly taught at the universities of Durham and Sunderland. She has research interests in gender, women's employment and industrial relations, and she has written extensively on social inequality. Her publications include Men's Work, Women's Work (Polity, 1989), Fractured Identities (Polity, 1997) and Gender and Power in the Workplace (Macmillan, 1999).
Gary Browning was appointed Professor of Politics at Oxford Brookes University in 1997. He undertook a first degree in History and Politics at Reading University 1971–74, thereafter completing an MSc and a PhD at the [Page xii]London School of Economics and a further MSc at the University of Southampton. He has taught at Reading University and the City of London Polytechnic as well as at Oxford Brookes University. His major research interests are in political philosophy and the history of political thought. He has published articles in journals such as Political Studies and History of Political Thought, and is co-editor of the journal of the Political Studies Association of the UK, Politics. His books include Plato and Hegel: Two Modes of Philosophising (Garland, 1991), Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit: A Reappraisal (ed.) (Kluwer, 1997), Politics: An Introduction (co-author) (Routledge, 1997), Hegel and the History of Political Philosophy (Macmillan, 1999) and Lyotard and the End of Grand Narratives (UWP, 2000).
Terrell Carver is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Bristol. He has written extensively on Marx and Engels, including Engels in the Oxford ‘Past Masters’ series and Marx for the Cambridge ‘Companions to Philosophy’. He is author of Marx and Engels: The Intellectual Relationship, Friedrich Engels: His Life and Thought and a new study, The Postmodern Marx. He has recently completed new translations in Marx: Later Political Writings for the Cambridge ‘Texts in the History of Political Thought’, and three of his own books have been translated into Japanese.
Stephen Crook was appointed Foundation Professor of Sociology at James Cook University (JCU), Australia in 1998. He completed a BA in Philosophy at the University of York in 1973 and a DPhil in Sociology from the same university in 1984. Before moving to JCU he had worked for twelve years at the University of Tasmania and before that at The College of St Mark and St John, Plymouth. He is the author of Modernist Radicalism and its Aftermath (Routledge, 1991), co-author of Postmodernization: Change in Advanced Society (Sage, 1992) and editor of Adorno: The Stars Down to Earth (Routledge, 1994). He has recently published papers on environmentalism in Australia, the cultural riskiness of biotechnology and the concept of ‘everyday life’. His current research interests are focused on regimes of risk management, human-animal relations and ways of analysing socio-technical networks.
Avigail Eisenberg is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia where she has been teaching and writing since 1990. She received her PhD in 1991 from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her main areas of interest are political theory and Canadian politics and jurisprudence. She has published several articles on the subject of cultural relations and group rights in Canadian and international journals. In 1995, she published a critical examination of pluralism entitled Reconstructing Political Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 1995). Her most recent book is a co-edited collection of essays entitled Painting the Maple: Race, Gender and the Construction of Canada (University of British Columbia Press, 1998).
[Page xiii]Elizabeth Frazer is an Official Fellow and Tutor in Politics, New College, Oxford and Lecturer in Politics, Faculty of Social Studies, University of Oxford. Her major research interests are political theory and political sociology. She is the author of Problems of Communitarian Politics: Unity and Conflict (Oxford University Press, 1999), and with Nicola Lacey, of The Politics of Community: A Feminist Critique of the Liberal Communitarian Debate (Harvester Press, 1993).
Abigail Halcli is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Oxford Brookes University. She received her PhD from the Ohio State University, USA. Her research interests are in the areas of social movements, political sociology and gender. Recent publications include ‘AIDS, Anger and Activism: ACT UP as a Social Movement Organization’ in Waves of Protest: Social Movements Since the Sixties (Rowman and Littlefield, 1999) (edited by Jo Freeman and Victoria Johnson). She has also published research on foundation funding of American social movement organizations and on the gendered experiences of female politicians.
Nick Hewlett is Reader and Chair of the Centre for European Research at Oxford Brookes University. He has studied at the Universities of Sussex, Essex and Paris and has taught at South Bank Polytechnic as well as Oxford Brookes University. His major research interests are French politics since the Second World War, the theory and practice of democracy, and the relationship between intellectuals and politics. His books include Modern French Politics: Analysing Conflict and Consensus since 1945 (Polity, 1998), Contemporary France (Longman, 1994 and 1999) (with Jill Forbes and Francois Nectoux), and Currents in Contemporary French Intellectual Life (Macmillan, 1999) (edited with Christopher Flood).
Kimberly Hutchings is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at Edinburgh University. She is the author of Kant, Critique and Politics (Routledge, 1996) and has published work on contemporary continental and feminist philosophy as well as international relations theory. Her recent work includes Cosmopolitan Citizenship, (co-edited with Roland Danrouther, Macmillan, 1999) and International Theory: Re-thinking Ethics in a Global Era (Sage, forthcoming 1999).
Andrew Kilmister was educated at the Universities of Bristol and Oxford. He has taught Economics at Oxford Brookes University, in the School of Business, since 1987. His main teaching interests are in European economics, financial economics and the Far Eastern economies, especially Japan. He has published articles and chapters on Eastern European transition, socialist models of development, and the British motor industry. He is a member of the editorial board of Labour Focus on Eastern Europe.
Krishan Kumar is Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, USA. He was previously Professor of Social and Political Thought at the [Page xiv]University of Kent at Canterbury. He was educated at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. He has been a BBC Talks Producer, a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, and a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Colorado, Bergen and the Central European University, Prague. Among his publications are Prophecy and Progress: The Sociology of Industrial and Post-Industrial Society (Penguin, 1978), Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times (Blackwell, 1987), The Rise of Modern Society (Blackwell, 1988), Utopianism (Open University Press, 1991) and From Post-Industrial to PostModern Society (Blackwell, 1995). He is currently working on a study of English national identity and the rise of English nationalism.
Murray Low is a lecturer in Geography at the University of Reading. He was educated at Cambridge University, The New School of Social Research, New York and the Ohio State University. His publications include ‘Representation Unbound: Globalization and Democracy’ in Kevin Cox (ed.) Spaces of Globalization (Guilford Press, 1997) and ‘Their Masters' Voice: Commu-nitarianism, Civic Order and Political Representation’ in Environment and Planning A (1999). He is currently writing about issues of political representation and urban government.
David Lyon is Professor of Sociology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He has taught or had visiting appointments at Bradford and Ilkley College (University of Bradford), Calvin College, Michigan, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, The University of Leeds, and Regent College, Vancouver. His main research and teaching interests are in the social aspects of communication and information technologies; religion and culture; historical sociology; and social theory. He is author of a number of books, translated into twelve languages, including The Information Society: Issues and Illusions (Polity, 1988), The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society (Polity/Minnesota, 1994), Postmodernity (Open University Press/Minnesota, 1994, 2nd revised and expanded edition, 1999), and Jesus in Disneyland: Religion in Postmodern Times (Polity Press, forthcoming).
Richard Maxwell received his BA (1982) at the University of California at San Diego and his MA and PhD (1990) from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has taught at Northwestern University and is currently Associate Professor of Media Studies at Queens College of the City University of New York. He is the author of The Spectacle of Democracy: Spanish Television, Nationalism, and Political Transition (University of Minnesota Press, 1995).
Mary Maynard joined the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, UK, in 1996 and was appointed Professor in 1997. She was previously a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of York and was Director of the Centre for Women's Studies there from 1984 to 1996. Her major research interests are in women's studies, social and [Page xv]feminist theory, research methodology, ethnicity, and later life. She has published articles in all of these areas. Her most recent books include New Frontiers in Women's Studies: Knowledge, Identity and Nationalism (co-editor) (Taylor and Francis, 1996) and Science and the Construction of Women (editor) (UCL Press, 1997). She is currently working on a book on feminist research and methodology.
Vincent Mosco was educated at Georgetown (BA, History, 1970) and Harvard (PhD, Sociology, 1975). He has taught at universities in the USA and Canada and has been Professor of Communication at Carleton University since 1989. He is author of several books including Pushbutton Fantasies (Ablex, 1982), The Pay-Per Society (Garamond, 1989) and The Political Economy of Communication (Sage, 1996).
Kaarle Nordenstreng is Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Tampere in Finland. He studied psychology and linguistics at the University of Helsinki, where he completed a PhD in 1969. His books include The Mass Media Declaration of UNESCO (Ablex, 1984), Beyond Sovereignty: International Communication in the 1990s, edited with Herbert Schiller (Ablex, 1993) and Towards Equity in Global Communication: MacBride Update, edited with Richard Vincent and Michael Traber (Hampton, 1998). In addition to international communication his major research interests include social theories of the media and the ethics of journalism.
Christopher Norris took his BA and PhD degrees from the University of London (1970 and 1975) and is now a Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at Cardiff University. He has been Visiting Professor at Berkeley (1986) and at the City University of New York (1988). He has published more than twenty books to date, among them volumes on literary theory, deconstruction, postmodernism, philosophical semantics, philosophy of science, ethics and musicology. At present he is writing mainly about the logic of deconstruction and also about philosophical issues in the interpretation of quantum mechanics.
David Pepper is Professor of Geography at Oxford Brookes University, and formerly worked with the Soil Survey of England and Wales. He has edited books on nuclear power and geographical issues of war and peace, and has written Communes and the Green Vision (Green Print, 1991), Eco-Socialism: From Deep Ecology to Social Justice (Routledge, 1993) and Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (Routledge, 1996). His current interests include radical approaches to sustainable development.
Ken Plummer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. His main books are Sexual Stigma: An Interactionist Account (Routledge, 1975), Documents of Life (Allen and Unwin, 1983) and Telling Sexual Stories (Routledge, [Page xvi]1995). He has co-authored (with John Macionis) Sociology: A Global Introduction (Prentice-Hall, 1998). He has also edited various collections and written numerous articles on sexuality, life stories, symbolic interactionism and lesbian and gay studies. He is the editor of the new journal Sexualities.
Don Robotham is a Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York. Previously he was Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of the School for Graduate Studies and Research at the University of the West Indies. He did his first degree at the University of the West Indies in Sociology and his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. In 1996 he gave the annual Distinguished Lecture at the Spring Meeting of the American Ethnological Society on ‘Transnationalism in the Caribbean: Formal and Informal’ (American Ethnologist, May 1998). He has published also on ‘Postcolonialities: the rise of new modernities’ (International Social Science Journal, September 1997). His current interests are theories of multiple modernities, development and social theory.
Saskia Sassen is Professor of Sociology, The University of Chicago. Her most recent books are Globalization and its Discontents (New Press, 1998) and Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization (Columbia University Press, 1996). Several translations of her book The Global City are appearing, among them French (Descartes, 1996), Italian (UTET, 1997) and Spanish (EUDEBA, 1999). She is currently completing a project on ‘Cities and their Crossborder Networks’, sponsored and to be published by the United Nations University Press.
John Scott studied sociology at Kingston College of Technology and the London School of Economics. He has taught at Strathclyde University and Leicester University, where he was Professor of Sociology. Since 1994 he has been Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex, and he is Adjunct Professor at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is the author of books on social stratification and power, business organization, research methods, and sociological theory. His most recent publications include Stratification and Power (Polity Press, 1996), Corporate Business and Capitalist Classes (Oxford University Press, 1997) and, with James Fulcher, Sociology (Oxford University Press, 1999).
Chris Shilling is Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth, where he has lectured since 1995. Previously, he taught at the University of Southampton and at Oxford Polytechnic. He is author of several books, including The Body and Social Theory (Sage/TCS, 1993), currently being translated into Chinese and Korean, and, with Philip A. Mellor, Re-forming the Body: Religion, Community and Modernity (Sage/TCS, 1997), currently being translated into Chinese, and is presently working on a third volume on the embodiment of sociology and social theory. He is an associate editor of Body[Page xvii]& Society, and has published widely on classical and contemporary sociological theory in such journals as Sociological Review, Sociology, British Journal of Sociology, and Social Compass.
Susan Stephenson teaches Political Theory at the University of Edinburgh. She studied philosophy at the University of Exeter before moving to the University of Southampton where she completed an MSc in Politics and Culture and a doctoral thesis in Political Theory. Her main research interests are in contemporary political theory and she is particularly interested in the relationship between politics and the creative imagination. She is currently writing a book on narrative, identity and political theory.
Frank Webster was educated at Durham University (BA, 1972; MA, 1974) and the LSE (PhD, 1978). He has taught at universities in London, California and at Oxford Brookes. He is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Cultural Studies and Sociology at the University of Birmingham which he joined in 1999. He is author of many articles and books, including The New Photography: Responsibility in Visual Communication (Calder, 1980), Information Technology: A Luddite Analysis (with Kevin Robins) (Ablex, 1986), The Technical Fix: Computers, Industry and Education (with Kevin Robins) (Macmillan, 1989), Theories of the Information Society (Routledge, 1995) and, edited with Anthony Smith, The Postmodern University? (Open University Press, 1997). His most recent book is Times of the Technoculture: From the Information Society to the Virtual Life (with Kevin Robins) (Routledge, 1999).[Page xviii]