Sociological Noir: Irruptions and the Darkness of Modernity (Hardback) book cover

Sociological Noir

Irruptions and the Darkness of Modernity

By Kieran Flanagan

© 2017 – Routledge (Monograph (DRM-Free))

352 pages

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Contrary to secular claims regarding the expulsion of religion, modernity does in fact produce unprecedented forms whose understanding re-casts the relationships between sociology and theology.

This book explores ‘irruptions’ which disturb modernity from without: fragments or deposits of history that have spectral – or ‘noir’ – properties, whether ruins, collective memories, or the dark Gothic or the Satanic as manifested in culture. The study investigates what irrupts from these depths to unsettle our understanding of modernity so as to reveal its theological roots.

A ground-breaking and extensive work, Sociological Noir explores literature, history and theology to re-cast the sociological imagination in ways that inspire reflection on new configurations in modernity. As such, it will have wide-spread appeal to sociologists and social theorists with interests in religion, theology and debates on postsecularism and culture.


'Sociological Noir further expands Kieran Flanagan's unique commentary, over a series of works, on today's social and religious dystopias. As a 'sociological prophet' inhabiting the wilderness boundaries between sociology and theology, he delves into the shadow side of modern culture, calling both disciplines to account over troubling questions they too often neglect. What is to be said about the nature of our times? Are we post-modern? post-religious? secular? The argument here stakes out the territory as 'post-secular'. - James Sweeney CP, University of London, UK

'Kieran Flanagan confirms his status as one of the most provocative, creative and original thinkers in the field where sociology and theology meet. Sociological Noir makes us think again about the dark side of modernity and, indeed, about the hidden currents and spirits in the sociological tradition.' - Chris Shilling, University of Kent, UK

'When 'God' -the word- becomes natural in conversation secularization is contravened. That normality emerges in this many-themed book where, for example, suffering and death stand high in Flanagan's ongoing sociological reconnoitering incursions into theological territories. His style fosters a critical curating of modernity and the post-modern through idioms of light, darkness and spectral presences while prompting thought and tempting solutions.' - Douglas J. Davies, Durham University, UK

Table of Contents



1. A sociology of gloom: initial forebodings

2. Collective memory: remembrance and the constitution of images

3. Ruins: irruptions in the fragments

4. Dark Gothic: life in the shade

5. Satan: modernity’s imaginary friend

6. Sociology, sin and expiation

7. Sociodicy or theodicy? A matter of sociological choice


Appendix 1: Fingering apparitions: the sociologist and the vulgar statue


About the Author

Kieran Flanagan is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol, UK. He is the author of Sociology in Theology: Reflexivity and Belief (2007); Seen and Unseen: Visual Culture, Sociology and Theology (2004); The Enchantment of Sociology: A Study of Theology and Culture (1996); and Sociology and Liturgy: Re-presentations of the Holy (1991), and co-editor with Peter C. Jupp of A Sociology of Spirituality (2007); Virtue Ethics and Sociology: Issues of Modernity and Religion (2001); and Postmodernity, Sociology and Religion (1996).

About the Series

Morality, Society and Culture

Morality, Society and Culture

The Morality, Society and Culture series publishes rigorous scholarly work exploring how questions of what we should do and how we ought to live are expressed and practised in contemporary social relationships and culture. How do ideas about what is right and good shape action and identities? Can cultural texts such as films, television, literature and art be guides for living? What do often abstract moral values mean in daily life? This series explores how and to what effect questions of meaning, identity and action are inextricably entwined with contemporary social and cultural forms, texts and relationships. The books in this series offer new understandings of the connection of morality, society and culture.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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