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.
Chapter 1: A New Nexus of Social Change
Critical Theory considers that the structure of capitalism limits the potential for collective self-determination and that this is a major source of injustice and domination. Of course, the possibility of collective self-determination presupposes that it already exists as a norm (Habermas, 2001a; Taylor, 2004; Wagner, 2012). Democratic political orders have typically sought to present themselves as embodying, to varying degrees, a principle of collective self-determination, such as in the form of popular sovereignty or public opinion. On the one hand, this is one reason why there is a considerable tension between capitalism and democracy. Capitalism is an economic system founded on private appropriation and an asymmetrical distribution ...