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Contested Knowledge: Social Theory Today, 6th Edition

ISBN: 978-1-119-16759-4
368 pages
September 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
Contested Knowledge: Social Theory Today, 6th Edition (1119167590) cover image


In the sixth edition of Contested Knowledge, social theorist Steven Seidman presents the latest topics in social theory and addresses the current shift of 'universalist theorists' to networks of clustered debates.
  • Responds to current issues, debates, and new social movements 
  • Reviews sociological theory from a contemporary perspective 
  • Reveals how the universal theorist and the era of rival schools has been replaced by networks of clustered debates that are relatively 'autonomous' and interdisciplinary 
  • Features updates and in-depth discussions of the newest clustered debates in social theory—intimacy, postcolonial nationalism, and the concept of 'the other' 
  • Challenges social scientists to renew their commitment to the important moral and political role social knowledge plays in public life 
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments x

Introduction 1

Part I The Rise of the Classical Tradition 7

Introduction to Part I 9

1 The Idea of a Science of Society: The Enlightenment and Auguste Comte 11

2 The Revolutionary Theory of Karl Marx 22

3 The Promise of Sociology: Emile Durkheim 36

4 The Ironic Social Theory of Max Weber 48

Afterword to Part I 61

Part II Rethinking the Classical Tradition: American Sociology 65

Introduction to Part II 67

5 The Grand Theory of Talcott Parsons, Peter Berger,

and Thomas Luckmann 70

6 The Scientific Theory of Randall Collins and Peter Blau 86

7 The Moral Sociology of C. Wright Mills and Robert Bellah 97

Afterword to Part II 113

Part III Rethinking the Classical Tradition: European Theory 115

Introduction to Part III 117

8 The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas 119

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v i Contents

9 Stuart Hall and British Cultural Studies 132

10 The Critical Sociology of Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu 140

Afterword to Part III 152

Part IV Revisions and Revolts: The Postmodern Turn 155

Introduction to Part IV 157

11 The Postmodern World of Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard,

and Jean Baudrillard 159

12 Michel Foucault’s Disciplinary Society 175

13 Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology of Postmodernity 188

Afterword to Part IV 197

Part V Revisions and Revolts: Identity Politics and Theory 201

Introduction to Part V 203

14 Feminist Theory/Masculinity Studies 205

15 Critical Race Theory/White Studies 226

16 Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Theory/Heterosexual Studies 239

17 Colonial Discourse Studies 254

Afterword to Part V 263

Part VI Revisions and Revolts: Theories of World Order 267

Introduction to Part VI 269

18 From Nation to Globe: David Held and Mary Kaldor 271

19 Global Capitalism: Immanuel Wallerstein and Manuel Castells 281

20 The Return of Empire? Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri,

David Harvey and Michael Mann 290

Afterword to Part VI 300

Part VII The Rise of Postdisciplinary Theory 303

Introduction to Part VII 305

21 Theorizing Postcolonial Nationalism: A Case

of “Domain” Theorizing 308

22 Jeffrey Alexander: Reconstructing Democratic Theory

in an Age of Disillusionment 320

23 Nancy Fraser: The Case for Radical Democracy 331

Afterword to Part VII 341

Index 344

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Author Information

Steven Seidman is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the author and editor of a number of books including Liberalism and the Origins of European Social TheoryThe Postmodern Turn, Queer Theory/SociologyThe New Social Theory Reader (with Jeffrey Alexander), and Intimacies.

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Praise for previous edition:

“In this tour de force, Steven Seidman surveys social theory from Auguste Comte to Zygmunt Bauman via feminism, world systems theory, queer theory, post-colonialism and much more. It is not just a survey, but rather a plea for a public sociology that is relevant, committed and morally challenging. In a style of writing that is at once direct, personal and engaging, Seidman provides a penetrating overview of the state of sociology that is critical but optimistic. Contested Knowledge now in its fifth edition gets better with age.”

Bryan S. Turner, The City University of New York 

“In his spirited defense of theory as a moral enterprise, Steven Seidman offers insightful, penetrating, critical, but always fair assessments of the theoretical contributions of a wide range of theorists past and present.... Written with an enviable clarity, in a style that is at once lucid and engaging."

Peter Kivisto, Augustana College and University of Turku

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