This comprehensive book provides an indispensable introduction to the most significant figures in contemporary social theory. Grounded strongly in the European tradition, the profiles include Michel Foucault, J[um]urgen Habermas, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Pierre Bourdieu, Zygmunt Bauman, Martin Heidegger, Frederic Jameson, Richard Rorty, Nancy Chodorow, Anthony Giddens, Stuart Hall, Luce Irigaray and Donna Haraway. In guiding students through the key figures in an accessible and authoritative fashion, the book provides detailed accounts of the development of the work of major social theorists and charts the relationship between different traditions of social, cultural and political thought.

Niklas Luhmann

Niklas Luhmann

Niklas Luhmann

Biographical Details and Theoretical Context

Niklas Luhmann was born in 1927 in Lüneburg, Germany, the son of the local brewer. Towards the end of the Second World War, still in his teens, Luhmann was enlisted and sent to the front where he was soon captured by American troops and imprisoned. His experience of the prison camp and later of life in postwar Germany left Luhmann with a wish to study law, which he saw as instrumental in restoring order to the chaotic postwar society. After graduating from the University of Freiburg, Luhmann took a job as a civil servant in the ministry of culture. He continued, however, to pursue his philosophical interests in his spare time. His particular interests were in the works ...

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