• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Divided into two parts, this book examines the train of social theory from the 19th century, through to the `organization of modernity', in relation to ideas of social planning, and as contributors to the `rationalistic revolution' of the `golden age' of capitalism in the 1950s and 60s. Part two examines key concepts in the social sciences. It begins with some of the broadest concepts used by social scientists: choice, decision, action and institution and moves on to examine the `collectivist alternative': the concepts of society, culture and polity, which are often dismissed as untenable by postmodernists today. This is a major contribution to contemporary social theory and provides a host of essential insights into the task of social scie


An entity called ‘society’ became an object of scientific study during the nineteenth century. Its emergence, or its discovery, gave rise to what was then seen as new sciences, variously called ‘social science’, ‘sociology’ (a term coined by Auguste Comte) or directly ‘science of society’ (or in German Gesellschaftswissenschaft). While the study of the gregariousness of human life can be traced to almost any point in intellectual history, there is nevertheless some validity to the claim of novelty on the part of these sciences, a validity that hinges to a considerable extent on the existence of the new object ‘society’. Whether there was such an object at all or whether it was of such novelty that a new science was required for its analysis, ...

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