This book examines the meaning and implications of the sociological maxim, ‘make the familiar strange’. Addressing the methodological questions of why and how sociologists should make the familiar strange, what it means to ‘make the familiar strange’, and how this approach benefits sociological research and theory, it draws on four central concepts: reification, familiarity, strangeness, and defamiliarization. Through a typology of the notoriously ambiguous concept of reification, the author argues that the primary barrier to sociological knowledge is our experience of the social world as fixed and unchangeable. Thus emerges the importance of constituting the familiar as the strange through a process of social defamiliarization as well as making this process more methodical by reflecting on heuristics and patterns of thinking that render society strange. The first concerted effort to examine an important feature of the sociological imagination, this volume will appeal to sociologists of any specialty and theoretical persuasion.
Table of Contents
1. What is Sociology’s Epoché?
2. Modes of Reification
3. Familiarity and/as Strangeness
4. Modes of Social Defamiliarization
5. The Anti-Consolation of Sociology
Ryan Gunderson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology at Miami University, USA, and the co-author of Climate Change Solutions: Beyond the Capital-Climate Contradiction.
"Ryan Gunderson’s fusion of critical theory and phenomenology and incisive exploration of reification and defamiliarization provide analytical tools to unmask the neoliberal ideology that ‘there is no alternative,’ come to terms with the grim social realities exposed by the covid-19 pandemic, and imagine a future that averts plutocracy and ecological catastrophe." - Robert J. Antonio, University of Kansas, USA
"Through a systematic exploration of the topic of ‘defamiliarization’ in sociology, critical theory and phenomenology are once again brought together. The result is a powerful endorsement of active estrangement that fully brings home Brecht’s alienation-effect to social theory. By showing us how to think about the world in a different way, Ryan Gunderson opens the way to social change, at least in theory." - Frédéric Vandenberghe, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Gunderson’s intellectually stimulating study joins the ranks of many important theoretical approaches dedicated to visualizing problematic dimensions of social life that have been normalized via everyday life, and constitutes a most welcome effort to spell out efforts to systematize strategies to counteract mediating processes like alienation and reification, which are detrimental to human agency." - Harry F. Dahms, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, USA