The Challenge of Modernity : Simmel’s Sociological Theory book cover
1st Edition

The Challenge of Modernity
Simmel’s Sociological Theory

ISBN 9781138281837
Published August 23, 2018 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

The complete collected works of Georg Simmel are now available. Yet, the standing of Simmel’s sociological theory is still a subject of controversy. Is Simmel only a brilliant impressionist, a flâneur in the territories of modernity?

Providing an illuminating and coherent presentation of Simmel’s sociological theory, The Challenge of Modernity seeks to demonstrate how Simmel contributed a structured sociological theory that fits the criteria of a ‘sociological grand theory’. Indeed, starting by the theory of modernity and its dimensions of social differentiation, monetarisation, culture reification and urbanisation; it reconstructs the architecture of Simmel’s sociological epistemology. Particular attention is dedicated to the theory of ‘qualitative societal differentiation’ that Simmel develops within his cultural sociology, with the late work being presented as a double contribution to the foundation of sociological anthropology and to the social ethics of complex societies.

Presenting the entirety of Simmel’s manifold oeuvre from the viewpoint of its relevance for sociology, this comprehensive volume will appeal to scholars and advanced students who wish to understand Simmel’s relevance for socio-political thought and become acquainted with his contribution to sociological theory. It will also be of interest to the wider public who seek a critical assessment of our age in theoretical terms.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Georg Simmel and sociological grand theory

1. Theory of Modernity

1.1 Social differentiation

1.2 Monetary economy

1.3 Culture reification

1.4 Urbanisation

1.5 Neurasthenia and beyond

1.6 Women’s emancipation

1.7 Fashion

1.8 Simmel and Marx

2. Sociological Epistemology

2.1 The dismantling of social ontology

2.2 The object of sociology

2.3 Enquiry into social mechanisms

2.4 Coordinating social structure and social action or ‘social validity’

2.5 Space and social closure

2.6 Conflict

2.7 Simmel and Durkheim

3. Sociology of Culture

3.1 Qualitative societal differentiation

3.2 Economy and the social realm

3.3 Politics

3.4 Religion

3.5 Art

3.6 Eroticism

3.7 Simmel and Weber

4. Sociological Anthropology

4.1 The anthropology of social action

4.2 The anthropology of social structure

4.3 The anthropology of social validity

4.4 Individual life and societal form

4.5 Simmel and Plessner

5. Social Ethics

5.1 Conduct of life in modern times

5.2 The conflict of normative cultures

5.3 Individual law and community

5.4 Emotional nationalism and transnational rationalism

5.5 Between Kant and Goethe

6. Outlook: oblivion and rediscovery



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Gregor Fitzi is co-director of the Centre for Citizenship, Social Pluralism and Religious Diversity at University of Potsdam, Germany