• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

In this accomplished, sophisticated and up-to-date account of the state of critical social theory today, Craig Browne explores the key concepts in critical theory (like critique, ideology, and alienation), and crucially, goes on to relate them to major contemporary developments such as globalization, social conflict and neo-liberal capitalism. Critical theory here is not solely the work of Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and Habermas. The book begins with the Frankfurt School but uses this as a base to then explore more contemporary figures such as:  • Nancy Fraser  • Axel Honneth  • Luc Boltanski  • Cornelius Castoriadis  • Ulrich Beck  • Anthony Giddens  • Pierre Bourdieu  • Hannah Arendt A survey of critical social theory for our times, this is an essential guide for students wishing to grasp a critical understanding of social theory in the modern world.


The contemporary historical conjuncture appears to simultaneously justify the project of Critical Theory and contradict its basic preconditions. On the one hand, the material effects of the latest capitalist crisis would seem to be an extremely concrete expression of the connection between social injustice and the irrationality of the capitalist system. On the other hand, advanced liberal democratic societies are undergoing a protracted crisis of values (Castoriadis, 1991). Even though this crisis of values has generated a diversity of normative positions and it is possible to identify progressive tendencies, the values that appear the most practically effective, especially individualist definitions of self-interest, are those antithetical to Critical Theory. From a historical standpoint, Critical Theory has previously confronted equivalent dilemmas. The difficulty, even the tragedy, ...

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