1st Edition

Post-Philosophical Sociology Eliasian Perspectives on the Sociology of Knowledge

By Richard Kilminster Copyright 2024

    In a hyper-individualistic age and in the face of the narrowly focused, policy-oriented research ubiquitous in the social sciences, this book revisits the humanistic world-view that is integral to Norbert Elias’s pre-eminent figurational-process sociology, with the aim of increasing the fund of sociological knowledge that has the human condition as its horizon.

    Clarifying the contentious ‘post-philosophical’ aspects in order to supplement standard histories of sociology with new insights, it offers incisive evaluations of some of the bewildered attempts by prominent sociologists to diagnose the malaise of contemporary globalised society. It also challenges the orthodox limitation of the empirical scope of sociology to ‘modernity’. With its ominous warnings of the destructive prevalence of ‘overcritique’ in the discipline and lack of in-depth sociological psychology, Post-Philosophical Sociology will appeal to scholars of sociology, psychoanalysis, social philosophy, cultural theory and social and political theory with interests in developmental and dynamic thinking and the history of the discipline.

    Introduction: The Greatness of Sociology

    Part One – Figurational-Process Sociology: Synthesis and Vocation

    Chapter 1 The Dawn of Detachment: Norbert Elias and Sociology’s Two Tracks

    Chapter 2 Karl Marx: New Perspectives

    Chapter 3 Norbert Elias’s Post-Philosophical Sociology: From "Critique"to Relative Detachment

    Chapter 4 How Has a Post-Philosophical Sociology Become Possible?

    Chapter 5 From Distance to Detachment: Knowledge and Self-knowledge in Elias’s Theory of Involvement and Detachment

    Part Two – Overcritique or Social Diagnosis?

    Chapter 6 Critique and Overcritique in Sociology

    Chapter 7 Overcritique and Ambiguity in Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology: A Long-Term Perspective

    Chapter 8 Narcissism or Informalization? Christopher Lasch, Norbert Elias and Social Diagnosis

    Chapter 9 Informalization, Sociological Theory and Social Diagnosis

    Addendum: On The Process of Becoming a Sociologist


    Richard Kilminster is an Honorary Research Fellow in Sociology in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on the sociology of knowledge and the work of Norbert Elias.

    "Richard Kilminster is a man of semantic precision and clear thought. In this book, his thinking trades with the intersection of philosophy and sociology - a shift from ethics to global guidance through social science. He convincingly shows how sociology has taken over the historical task of humanistic, secular leadership. He develops this startling enquiry by building on the 'mighty thinkers' of the sociological tradition, masterfully demonstrating the breadth of his erudition and knowledge." - Adrian Jitschin, Norbert Elias Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    "For decades, sociological theorists have been in thrall to philosophers, and the results have often seemed irrelevant to the concerns of empirical sociological researchers. Richard Kilminster is well versed in the various schools of philosophy and makes out a compelling case for how sociology as the queen of the social sciences can be truly emancipated from their hegemony. And in so doing, he shows how theory and empirical research can be reunited." - Stephen Mennell, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University College Dublin.