The Iron Cage Revisited: Max Weber in the Neoliberal Era, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Iron Cage Revisited

Max Weber in the Neoliberal Era, 1st Edition

By R. Bruce Douglass


170 pages

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At the start of the twentieth century, when Germany, among other nations, was undergoing industrialization, Max Weber famously characterized modern life in words that have often been translated as "iron cage." During the industrial era, that image caught on and was often used by scholars to express concerns about the extent to which the actual character of modern life contradicted its emancipatory promise. But we are living in a different time now, when the conditions under which we live seem to be quite different from the ones that pertained in Weber's day. It is a time when, in some respects at least, life seems to be freer and more conducive to experimentation, which has led some people to conclude that our societies have escaped from Weber's "cage." But is that really true? This book challenges that notion, considering the consequences for our way of life of the triumph of neoliberalism as a political force.


"In his book, R. Bruce Douglass takes on the major issues of today: democracy in retreat; the rise of populism; and the challenges to liberalism. He brings new insights to each of these topics based on carefully laid out deliberations and profound understanding of our time. A must read."

Amitai Etzioni, author of Happiness is the Wrong Metric: A Liberal Communitarian Response to Populism.

Table of Contents

1. The Meaning of the Cage Imagery 2. The Point of the Imagery: Irrational Rationalism 3. A "Post-Bureaucratic" Age? 4. Post Materialist (or Neoliberal)? 5. The Democratic Prospect

About the Author

R. Bruce Douglass is Associate Professor and former Chair of the Department of Government at Georgetown University, USA, where he teaches political and social theory. He has also served as Dean of the Faculty of Georgetown College. He has taught at the University of Virginia as a visiting professor and has been a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He is the co-editor of Liberalism and the Good, Catholicism and Liberalism and A Nation under God?

About the Series

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory
Classical and Contemporary Social Theory publishes rigorous scholarly work that re-discovers the relevance of social theory for contemporary times, demonstrating the enduring importance of theory for modern social issues. The series covers social theory in a broad sense, inviting contributions on both 'classical' and modern theory, thus encompassing sociology, without being confined to a single discipline. As such, work from across the social sciences is welcome, provided that volumes address the social context of particular issues, subjects, or figures and offer new understandings of social reality and the contribution of a theorist or school to our understanding of it. The series considers significant new appraisals of established thinkers or schools, comparative works or contributions that discuss a particular social issue or phenomenon in relation to the work of specific theorists or theoretical approaches. Contributions are welcome that assess broad strands of thought within certain schools or across the work of a number of thinkers, but always with an eye toward contributing to contemporary understandings of social issues and contexts.

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Subject Categories

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