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.

Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas

Biographical Details and Theoretical Context

Born in 1929, Jürgen Habermas grew up in Gummersbach, Germany. Between 1949 and 1954, he studied at the Universities of Göttingen, Zurich, and Bonn. After a short spell as a journalist, he became Theodor Adorno's assistant at the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt. The early Frankfurt School clearly influenced the young Habermas but he soon developed his own research programme. He initially taught at the University of Heidelberg and at the Max Planck Institute; for the latter part of his teaching career he was at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. Since the early 1970s Habermas has become one of the leading critical theorists in the world.

The term ‘critical theory’ may need some explanation. Critical theorists ...

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