The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization  book cover
1st Edition

The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization

ISBN 9781138273436
Published October 26, 2016 by Routledge
218 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization explores the nature of contemporary malaises, diseases, illnesses and psychosomatic syndromes, examining the manner in which they are related to cultural pathologies of the social body. Multi-disciplinary in approach, the book is concerned with questions of how these conditions are not only manifest at the level of individual patients' bodies, but also how the social 'bodies politic' are related to the hegemony of reductive biomedical and individual-psychologistic perspectives. Rejecting a reductive, biomedical and individualistic diagnosis of contemporary problems of health and well-being, The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization contends that many such problems are to be understood in the light of radical changes in social structures and institutions, extending to deep crises in our civilization as a whole. Rather than considering such conditions in isolation - both from one another and from broader contexts - this book argues that health and well-being are not just located at the level of the individual body, the integral human person, or even collective social bodies; rather, they encompass the health of humanity as a whole and our relationship with Nature. A ground-breaking analysis of social malaise and the health of civilization, this book will be of interest to scholars of sociology, social theory, social psychology, philosophy and anthropology.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Kieran Keohane and Anders Petersen; Part I Social Pathologies: Addressing the Question: The notion of social pathology: a case study of Narcissus in American society, Alain Ehrenberg; The social pathologies of contemporary civilization: meaning-giving experiences and pathological expectations concerning health and suffering, Arpad Szakolczai; Modernity as spiritual disorder: searching for a vocabulary of social pathologies in the work of Eric Voegelin, Bjørn Thomassen. Part II Social Pathologies: Contemporary Malaises: The value of houses in the libidinal economy: financialization as social pathogenesis, Kieran Keohane; Depression: resisting ultra-liberalism?, Bert van den Bergh; The pathologization of morality, Svend Brinkmann; The multiple self: a social pathology?, Annalisa Porfilio; Possible explanations for increasing antidepressant treatment in modern society, Margrethe Nielsen and Gunnar Scott Reinbacher. Part III Social Pathologies: Biopower, Subjectification and Civilization: Does society still matter? Mental health and illness and the social sciences in the 21st century, Pia Ringø; Evaluations as a process of disenfranchisement, Anders Petersen and Rasmus Willig; Schismogenesis, liminality and public health, Agnes Horvath; Index.

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Kieran Keohane is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the School of Sociology and Philosophy, University College Cork, Ireland. Anders Petersen is Associate Professor of Sociology and Head of School at Aalborg University, Denmark and Chairman of The Danish Sociological Association.


’Drawing on the humanities and social sciences, this rich and interesting collection challenges the hegemony of reductive psychological and biomedical accounts of illness and emotional disorder under today’s globalized neoliberal capitalism.’ Dick Houtman, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands ’Few academics would feel comfortable with using the term civilization to define contemporary social and cultural complexes, and many would be suspicious, with good reason, of any attempt to use medical language in the investigation of their ills. However, this collection of papers courageously grasps the nettle in giving close interrogations to aspects of contemporary human experience and its unease in health and well-being, experience of selfhood and moral fluidity. Individual chapters in the book re-examine our vocabulary of social pathology and malaise with reference to cutting edge multi-disciplinary themes and bring us up to date with current anti-reductionist discourses in topics as diverse as psychiatry and the household economy. The painstaking level of conceptual analysis on display here should make any reader confident that the pathologies of civilization can be re-examined in very contemporary and innovative ways.’ Jeff Vass, University of Southampton, UK