Social Theory is more than a reader. Feminists, race theorists, decolonizing leaders, and others are thoughtfully introduced by Charles Lemert’s substantial commentaries. Social Theory has always sought to keep up with the new while respecting the old—from Durkheim and Weber to Latinx and LGBTQ pioneers. When the book first appeared it was, as it remains, a collection of selections from those who have changed how we think about social things. Today, as the world is threatened by a global wave of anti-democratic movements, Social Theory adds a new early section to remind us of the origins of democratic values in the 1700s. A new concluding section focuses the theoretical mind on how, in the 2020s, social theorists are rethinking the world in order to better understand and resist the menace of anti-democratic movements.
Table of Contents
Part 1. 1690-1919, Modernity’s Classical Age
Social Foundations of Modern Democracy
The Unthinkable Two Sides of Society
Split Lives in the Modern World
Part 2. 1919-1945, Social Theories and World Conflict
Action and Knowledge in a Troubled World
Part 3. 1945-1964, The Golden Moment
The Golden Age
Doubts and Reservations
Part 4. 1963-1979, Will the Center Hold?
Experiments in Renewal and Reconstruction
Part 5. 1969-2001, After Modernity
The Idea of the Postmodern and Its Critics
Reactions and Alternatives
New Cultural Theories After Modernity
Part 6. After 2001, Global Realities in an Uncertain Future
Rethinking the Past That Haunts the Future
Is the Modern Order Broken?
Charles Lemert is University Professor and Andrus Professor of Social Theory Emeritus at Wesleyan University. Among his books are The Structural Lie: Small Clues to Global Things (2011), Why Niebuhr Matters (2011), Uncertain Worlds: World-Systems Analysis in Changing Times (2013, with Immanuel Wallerstein and Carlos Aguirre Rojas), and Globalization: Introduction to the End of the Known World (2015). He is at work on The Uncertain Future of Capitalism (2021, with Kristin Plys) and, among other books, Uncertainties of Time: The Past and Future TimeSpace (with Immanuel Wallerstein, posthumously).
"This anthology has helped transform social theory. Charles Lemert was a pioneer in bringing cultural diversity and globalization into dialog with classical sociology. The collection continues to break new ground today."
Craig Calhoun, Arizona State University, USA
"I fell in love with social theory because of this book. Charles Lemert’s reader provides an indispensable overview of the theories that shaped sociology as a discipline. His carefully curated collection leaves no stone unturned in its pursuit of a truly comprehensive guide to social theory, encompassing both well-known theorists and those whose voices were marginalized until recently. Thus, the book places the writings of Marx, Weber, Simmel, Durkheim, Freud, Mead, James, Parsons, Merton and Blumer alongside those of notable women and scholars of color, including Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Jane Addams, Simone de Beauvoir, Franz Fanon, Dorothy Smith, Patricia Hill Collins, and Judith Butler. Equally impressive is the range of topics the Lemert’s book covers, from stratification, power, culture, social order, capitalism, and revolution to contemporary topics such as deviance, globalization, postmodernism, symbolic interaction, feminist theory, critical race theory, queer theory, semiotics, ethnography, ethnomethodology, neoliberalism, and world systems theory. The book was groundbreaking in its scope and inclusiveness when it was first published over thirty years ago, and it continues to set the standard for theory readers today."
Waverly Duck, University of Pittsburgh, USA
"This book presents a provocative, wide-angle view of the history of social theory. Well chosen selections from the new social movements as well as the classics and recent mainstream make this book a fine introduction to courses in the social sciences."
Sandra Harding, University of California, Los Angeles,USA