• 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


Sociology, at least major parts of what goes under that name, has been an attempt to understand the viability of a polity by means other than those offered by political philosophy, including importantly means of empirical analysis (see ch. 9; and Wagner 2000: ch. 2). The problem has been defined, I shall argue, as that of the relation between social identities, social practices and modes of collective rule-setting. Sociology has mostly insisted on some need for — as well as tendency towards — a neat coherence of identities, practices and rules in a society. Coherence, in this sense, means that there is a collectivity of human beings, forming a ‘society’ by virtue of the fact that they share common understandings about what is important ...

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