• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

What are we to make of Bakhtin? Nearly 20 years after his death, the full richness of his ideas has still not been digested. For many people working in the sicial sciences, he remains a mysterious and impenetrable writer. Many are conscious that his ideas are relevant for sociology and cultural studies, but would be hard pressed to give chapter and verse. Others regard Bakhtin as a figure who contributed to the literary and philologic fields of study. This accessible and thoughtful text aims to demonstrate the relevance of Bakhtin to the human sciences. It argues that most of the current literature has been characterized by a superficial appropriation of Bakhtinian ideas and neologisms. What has been neglected is a serious engagement with his core ideas and a sustained reflection on their implications for social and cultural theory. The book aims to extend Bakhtin's ideas into the mainstream social sciences and to reconsider Bakhtin as a social thinker, not just as a literary theorist. The contributors have diverse backgrounds in the social and human sciences. The contributions are organized around the four main themes in Bakhtin's work: dialogics, carnivals, conversations, and ethics and everyday life. The book is equipped with a lively introduction that discusses the importance of Bakhtin as a major intellectual figure and attempts to situate his ideas in current theoretical trends and developments. Suggestive, accurate, and insightful, this book will be of interest to students and researchers working in the fields of the sociology of culture and cultural studies.

Bakhtin and the Human Sciences: A Brief Introduction
Bakhtin and the human sciences: A brief introduction
MichaelGardiner and MichaelMayerfeld Bell

[T]ruth itself, in its uttermost, indivisible, ‘atomic’ kernel, is dialogue

– Vladimir Bibler1

By anyone's standards, the life of the social philosopher and cultural theorist Mikhail Bakhtin was an extraordinary odyssey, during a period of Russian history not noted for its uneventfulness. Trained as a classicist and philologist in St Petersburg, his promising academic career was cut short by the cataclysmic revolutionary events of 1917. The ensuing terror and civil war even split his family asunder, as his older brother, also a scholar of high repute, rejected Bolshevism and fought for the Whites.2 Bakhtin's own initial cautious support for the new Soviet regime was eventually replaced by intellectual dissent, ...

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