• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Social theory is a core area in Sociology degrees. This book attempts to lead students through the key thinkers and key ideas. The organizational principle is to focus on theoretical writing which is relevant for understanding the contemporary world. So the book asks what continuing use do theories of the Enligthenment, classical German sociology, Marxism and phenomenology have for making sense of our social world.

Modernist Turn: Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer
Modernist turn: Walter benjamin and siegfried kracauer

Long before such phrases became sociological clichés, in his classic 1929 study, The Salaried Masses, Siegfried Kracauer stated rather bluntly: ‘Reality is a construction’. Similarly, for Walter Benjamin (2003: 396) history is also a ‘construct’ or a ‘constellation’. Social theory involves not only the flow of thoughts but also their arrest in a construction or ‘constellation’ saturated with points of tension arranged in such a way as to produce a shock of critical recognition.

Kracauer and Benjamin defy easy assimilation into social theory. As public sociologists they jostled their way through the crowded public sphere of the Weimar Republic far beyond conventional sociology. There they worked outside of academic institutions and employed ...

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