American Social Theory  book cover
1st Edition

American Social Theory

  • Available for pre-order on June 3, 2023. Item will ship after June 24, 2023
ISBN 9781138629776
June 24, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Due to the importance of philosophy in the Enlightenment, European social theory has dominated discourses of theory to the present day. Yet, looking deeper, Americans have made important contributions from very different social and cultural perspectives. Drawing from Euro and American traditions alike, this new book builds, for the first time, an intellectual framework for understanding American social theory up to the present. Charles Lemert, a master of "finding theory where you’d least expect it," traces the roots of American theory to 16th century colonization and, since, to an enormous range of writings and writers, both influential and lesser known. He delights readers with bold discoveries and a masterful rendering of American history and social thought that completes a fuller record of the theory we need to understand today.

Table of Contents

  1. Social Theory and American Culture

  • The long tradition of American exceptionalism
  • The Civil War and the settlement of American culture
  • The post-war era and the rise of Progressivism
  • The World Wars and the American rediscovery of Europe
  • The Short American Century, 1941-1946, and Europe’s empirical turn
  • The End of the Modern World-System, 1968-1991, & the European vision
  • Globalization and the collapse of the integrating social whole

    2.     American Pragmatisms

  • William James: experience and the social self
  • Pragmatist social theory today
  • Charles Sanders Peirce: semiotics and the unity of the ego
  • The Progressive Era: John Dewey and Jane Addams
  • George Herbert Mead: mind, self and society
  • Herbert Blumer: Symbolic Interactionism
  • Pragmatism’s limits and prospects: Habermas and Rorty

  1. Structures, Functions, and Cultures

  • Talcott Parsons: The Structure of Social Action
  • The Social System: Parsons and the AGIL Paradigm
  • Robert K. Merton: social theory and social structures
  • Jeffrey C. Alexander: theoretical logic and cultural sociology

  1. The Interaction Order

  • Conformity and American character: David Riesman & Erik Erikson
  • Erving Goffman: impression management & the interaction order
  • Ethnomethodologies: Aaron Cicourel and Harold Garfinkel

  1. Variations on the Theory of Power and Knowledge

  • C. Wright Mills: power as knowledge of structures
  • Alvin W. Gouldner: the culture of critical discourse
  • Herbert Marcuse: and the critique of mass culture
  • Dorothy Smith and Nancy Hartsock: power and the feminist standpoint
  • Donna Haraway & Patricia Hill Collins: the fractured matrix of power

  1. Social Movements, States and the Modern World-system

  • Charles Tilly: contentious social movements
  • Theda Skocpol: States and Social Movements
  • Immanuel Wallerstein and the end of the modern world-system

  1. The New Global Millennium and the analytic limits of the social

  • Manuel Castells, The Network Society
  • Ghosts of the Past: Eduard Said, Gloria Anzaldúa, Gayatri Spivak
  • Alice Goffman and the new ethnographies
  • Paul Krugman and the American vision of the economic future

  1. Conclusion: Decline and the future of American theory

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Charles Lemert is University Professor at Wesleyan University, where he is also John C. Andrus Professor of Social Theory Emeritus. He is author most recently of Queer Things Abounding: Small Clues to a Globalized World (2010), The New Individualism, second edition (2009), and Thinking the Unthinkable (2007).