The Concept of Tragedy : Its Importance for the Social Sciences in Unsettled Times book cover
1st Edition

The Concept of Tragedy
Its Importance for the Social Sciences in Unsettled Times


Sam Han

  • Available for pre-order on March 13, 2023. Item will ship after April 3, 2023
ISBN 9780367620332
April 3, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
184 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $8.99
was $44.95
USD $35.96

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Events in the world today appear to be increasingly uncontrollable and unknowable. Climate change, refugee crises and global pandemics seem to demonstrate the limits of human reason, science and technology. In light of this, the terms "tragedy" and "tragic" have come into greater use. What does the register of the tragic do? What does its deployment in the contemporary context and other times of crisis mean? In addressing such questions, this book also argues for a "tragic vision" embedded in the history of social thought, demonstrating the relevance of the ancient tragedians and Aristotle as well as Shakespeare and modern dramatists to the most pressing questions of agency and collectivity in the contemporary social sciences. Developing a theory of "tragic social science," which is applied to topics including global inequality, celebrity culture, pandemics and climate change, The Concept of Tragedy restores "tragedy" as a productive analytic in the social sciences. As such, it will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology, social theory, media and communications and literary criticism with interests in tragedy, suffering and modernity

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction: Why tragedy? Why now?
  2. Part I

  3. Beyond intentionality: the will, agency and subjectivity in ancient and classical tragedy
  4. The tragic individual: catharsis, the hero and the flaw in Aristotle and beyond
  5. Modern tragedy and its subjects: Shakespeare, Freud and post-Christian metaphysics
  6. Part II

  7. The theodicy of suffering: abjection under capitalism
  8. From hero to celebrity: Fame, familiarity and redemption
  9. Tragedy of the commons: genre and collective agency amidst climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  10. Toward a tragic social science: responsibility, critique and thinking diffractively


View More



Sam Han is Lecturer in Sociology at Brunel University, London. He is the author of (Inter)Facing Death: Life in Global Uncertainty, Technologies of Religion: Spheres of the Sacred in a Post-Secular Modernity and Digital Culture and Religion in Asia (with Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir), and other works.