• 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.

Negative Turn: Horkheimer, Adorno and Habermas
Negative turn: Horkheimer, adorno and habermas

Critical theory was formed in the shadow of catastrophe. Filtered by the critique of positivism, the experience of fascism haunted critical theory. Written under enforced conditions of US exile in the mid-1940s Dialectic of Enlightenment (1972) was Horkheimer and Adorno's attempt to theorise the catastrophe in Europe. Fascism was no aberration but the terrible symptom of new forms of domination introduced by capitalist modernity. To begin with, critical theory located fascism within the crisis of capitalism. As late as 1939, before the full horror of the Nazi genocide to come, Horkheimer was in no doubt that fascism could not be understood in isolation from the political economy of capitalism: ‘whoever is not willing ...

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