• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

A unique contribution to discussions of social theory, this book counters the argument that no social theory was ever produced in Britain before the late twentieth century. Reviewing a period of 300 years from the seventeenth century to the mid-twentieth century, it sets out a number of innovative strands in theory that culminated in powerful contributions in the classical period of sociology. The book discusses how these traditions of theory were lost and forgotten and sets out why they are important today.

The Romantic Critique and Social Idealism
The Romantic Critique and Social Idealism

The ideas of Spencer showed the importance of culture in building the solidarity and cohesion needed in a truly ‘organic’ social system. He pointed to the part played by social institutions as the bonds that integrate individuals into their society. However, neither Spencer nor the growing number of ethnologists examined the basis of community and social integration. There were, however, others writing in a line of thought that went back to the beginning of the eighteenth century, who took this as their principal concern. In literature and in social criticism they developed an account of community and of the consequences of its breakdown in modern society. In doing so, they began to outline ...

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