Realism and Social Theory
Structure and Agency Revisited
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The failure of social philosophers to make sense of an object of knowledge that embodies real divisions and polarities has generated a fundamental problem of social theory: the fallacy of reductive-conflationary analytical and explanatory models in sociological research. This book seeks to define the problem of sociology as one of developing appropriate theoretical and methodological tools for describing and analysing a multi-faceted social reality.
Through an extensive critical review of the major traditions of social theory from the perspective of social realism, this book develops the argument that social theory to date has been hamstrung by its resort to conflationary-reductive analytical modes. Part I presents a realist critique of the traditional rivals of holism and individualism while Part II offers a realist critique of the major paradigms of sociological elisionism. In Part III the author builds on these critiques by exploring how the ontology of social realism can sustain a robust social theory that resolves the traditional dilemmas and antinomies.
Deploying this social realism as a tool of explanatory critique of influential sociological theories of contemporary society, such as risk, liquid modernity, reflexive modernity, and postmodernity, this book is essential reading for students and scholars of critical theory, critical realism, philosophy and sociology.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Antinomies of Social Theory PART I: Macro versus Micro Theories 1. Sociological Holism 2. Analytical Individualism 3. Biologism and Psychologism PART II: Meso Theories 4. Social Action Theory and Praxiology Theory 5. Social Constructionism and Structuration Theory 6. Postmodernism and Post-Structuralism PART III: Realism and Contemporary Critiques 7. Realism and Social Ontology 8. Realism and Critical Theory Today 9.Conclusion
Sean Creaven is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at the University of the West of England, UK.