Freud as a Social and Cultural Theorist: On Human Nature and the Civilizing Process, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Freud as a Social and Cultural Theorist

On Human Nature and the Civilizing Process, 1st Edition

By Howard L. Kaye


238 pages

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Hardback: 9781138363151
pub: 2018-11-16
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This book offers a new account of Freud’s work by reading him as the social theorist and philosopher he always aspired to be, and not as the medical scientist he publicly claimed to be. In doing so, the author demonstrates that’s Freud’s social, moral, and cultural thought constitutes the core of his life’s work as a theorist, and is the thread that binds his voluminous writings together: from his earliest essays on the neuroses, to his foundational writings on dreams and sexuality, and to his far-ranging reflections on art, religion, and the dynamics of culture. Returning to the fundamental questions and concerns that animate Freud’s work - the nature of evil; the origins of religion, morality, and tradition; and the looming threat of resurgent barbarism - Freud as a Social and Cultural Theorist provides the first systematic re-examination of Freud’s social and cultural thought in more than a generation. As such, it will be of interest to social and cultural theorists, social philosophers, intellectual and cultural historians, and those with interests in psychoanalysis and its origins.


"[…] Kaye’s detailed and scholarly defence of Freud as a social theorist commands our respect and close attention." - Bryan Turner, Journal of Classical Sociology

Table of Contents




1. Was Freud a Medical Scientist or a Social Theorist?

2. In Search of the "Royal Road"

3. The "Compelling Call" of Psychology and the Foundational Texts of 1899-1905

4. Psychoanalysis as Cultural Critique: From Frustrated Sexuality to the Problem of Authority

5. Totem and Taboo: The Emergence of Freud as a Social Theorist

6. From Metapsychology to Social Psychology

7. Death, the Uncanny, and the Post-war Crisis of Authority

8. The Psychology of the Ego and the Riddles of Mind and Culture

9. The Work of Culture

10. Freud’s Testament

Conclusion: The Freud Who Endures


About the Author

Howard L. Kaye is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Franklin and Marshall College, USA, and the author of The Social Meaning of Modern Biology.

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General