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Social Theory in the Twentieth Century and Beyond, 2nd Edition




Social Theory in the Twentieth Century and Beyond, 2nd Edition

Patrick Baert, Filipe Carreira da Silva

ISBN: 978-0-745-63981-9 December 2009 Polity 248 Pages



This revised edition of Patrick Baert's widely acclaimed Social Theory in the Twentieth Century, now benefitting from the collaboration of Filipe Carreira da Silva has been brought right up-to-date with cutting-edge developments in social theory today. It offers an easy-to-read but provocative account of the development of social theory, covering a range of key figures and classic schools of thought. The authors bridge the gap between philosophy and social theory, locating the theoretical views of individuals such as Michel Foucault, Anthony Giddens and Jürgen Habermas within wider historical traditions.

The revised edition includes new material on French pragmatist sociology and cultural sociology, and on contemporary social thinkers such as Zygmunt Bauman, Ulrich Beck, Manuel Castells, Randall Collins, Michael Mann, Saskia Sassen and Theda Skocpol. The authors conclude with a bold, new pragmatist agenda for social theory and the social sciences.

Written in a lively style, and avoiding jargon, Social Theory in the Twentieth Century and Beyond is aimed at students who wish to gain an understanding of the main debates and dilemmas driving social theory. Like its predecessor, it will be a standard introduction to modern social theory for students in sociology, politics and anthropology.

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Preface to the Second Edition


1. A Timeless Order and its Achievement: Structuralism and Genetic Structuralism

2. The Biological Metaphor: Functionalism and Neo-functionalism

3. The Enigma of Everyday Life: Symbolic Interactionism, the Dramaturgical Approach and Ethnomethodology

4. The Invasion of Economic Man: From Rational Choice Theory to the New Institutionalism

5. As Sociology meets History: Giddens’s Structuration Theory and Historical Sociology

6. The History of the Present: Foucault’s Archaeology and Genealogy

7. The Spread of Reason: Habermas’s Critical Theory and Beyond

8. A Brave New World?: Current Trends in Social Theory

9. Conclusion: Social Theory for the Twenty-First Century

"Baert and da Silva lay out very clearly a history of social theory, and how that history is being re-thought, updated and canonised by contemporary theories. In their new chapter, they link theories of the global city, globalization and modernity with their contemporary and historical contexts. As such it is a well-marshalled and accessible introduction to the subject."
Kelvingrove Review

"The new edition is an outstanding book. The coverage is comprehensive, the lines of thought and exposition are clear, and the level of discussion is very high yet remarkably lively and accessible. It has an underlying intellectual seriousness and engagement which shines out through the individual chapters, and the authors' unwillingness to make do with secondary analyses and received ideas gives it a strength and freshness of approach which is extremely welcome. It is a very worthwhile update to an exceptionally valuable book."
William Outhwaite, Newcastle University

"Modern social theory is complex, diverse and difficult. Baert and Carreira da Silva are to be warmly congratulated for creating a clear and comprehensive framework that makes lucid sense of this theoretical complexity. The result is a sure but sophisticated overview of contemporary social thought. A judicious guide, it is an indispensable aid for students seeking an understanding of the social world."
Bryan S. Turner, Wellesley College


  • Second edition of a popular and innovative account of social theory in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • Written in a lively and accessible style which will appeal to students as well as specialists in social and political sciences
  • Covers classic theorists such as Foucault, Giddens and Habermas, as well as introducing newer figures such as Bauman, Beck and Castells
  • Focusing on current social theory, Baert and Carreira da Silva examine the link with philosophy and the social sciences