This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It draws together a team of outstanding international scholars, and presents an authoritative and panoramic critical survey of the field. The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines the classical tradition. Included here are critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. This part conveys the classical tradition as a living resource in social theory, it demonstrates not only the critical significance of classical writings, but their continuing relevance. The second part moves on t

Critical Theory

Critical theory

The term ‘critical theory’ is generally associated with the group of German social theorists affiliated with the Institute for Social Research. Founded in Frankfurt in 1923, the Institute sought to conduct social research that would examine the contradictions of modernity, interrogate the limits of the present order, and overcome the limitations of modern social and philosophical thought. In pursuing these objectives, the ‘Frankfurt School’ (as the founders and early staff of the Institute came to be known) built on the combined foundations of Marxism, idealist philosophy and psychoanalysis as well as empirically oriented sociology.

The core members of the early Frankfurt School included Max Horkheimer, long-time director of the Institute, Theodore Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse. While the label ‘critical theory’ is sometimes used ...

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