The Sociology of Postmarxism: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Sociology of Postmarxism

1st Edition

By Richard Howson


160 pages

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pub: 2017-05-15
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Postmarxism is often depicted as a point of intersection for a set of inter-disciplinary theories that are in themselves complex and dense.

Bringing the postmarxist theory of Ernesto Laclau into the field of political sociology through a close reading and analysis of postmarxism and its relationship to ‘the social’, A Sociology of Postmarxism develops key postmarxist arguments in an engaging and sociologically applicable way. Indeed, through a threefold method of analysis, Howson first unpacks the relationship between ‘the social’ and ‘the political’ by analysing key allied theories to show where the points of connection occur. This is then followed by an insightful analysis of the key features of postmarxist theory such as antagonism and the inevitability of social dislocation, the political importance of hegemony; and the empty signifier thesis and equivalence to show how such theory can be applied at a sociological level. Finally, through the use of sociological categories such as masculinities, migration and social capital, the foregoing theoretical analyses are synthesised to show the social nature of postmarxism and particularly in the context of aspiration and co-operation.

This enlightening volume will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as postdoctoral researchers who are interested in fields such as Political Sociology, Post Marxist Political Theory and Social Theory.


The Sociology of Postmarxism is a pleasure to read, at least for this reader. It combines careful, concise and generic analysis of the relations of marxism, materialism and discourse with an opening up of specific avenues, such as, social capital, migration, and men and masculinities, to the insights of postmarxist approaches in sociology. In so doing, it delivers a profound critique and challenge to Sociology itself, both mainstream and critical, and its mystifications of "society".

Jeff Hearn, Örebro University, Sweden; Hanken School of Economics, Finland; University of Huddersfield, UK

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter One: Introduction

Why The Social?

Why Postmarxism?

Why Postmarxism and Social capital

Chapter Two: From the Social to the Political


The Social in Historical Materialism

Setting out a Post- Terrain

Sociology and The Social in Postmarxism

Counter-Positions of The Social

Chapter Three: Classical Approaches to The Social


The Sociological project and the Emergence of Positivism

Karl Marx: Logic to Contradiction to Mediation

Emile Durkheim: Moral Positivism and Mediation

Max Weber: From Rationality to Irrationality as Social Mediation

Chapter Four: Establishing a Basis for Postmarxism


The New Priority

The Social as ‘Sedimentation’ and The Political as ‘Reactivation’

Chapter Five: From Antagonism to Equivalence


Antagonism as the Limit of Social Objectivity

"You Can Only Free Somethings …": Hegemony and The Political

Hegemony and the Constitution of Equivalence

Chapter Six: Finding The Political in Social Capital


What is Social Capital?

Forms of Social Capital

Social Capital and The Political

Chapter Seven: Desert - Migration as Social Dislocation


Quantity and Composition of Global Migration

Migration and (Post)Industrialisation

Foundational Approaches to Migration

Definitional Problematics

Causation Theories

Continuation Theories

Postmarxism and Migration

Chapter Eight: Aspiration – Hegemonic Masculinity as Emptiness


Gender Antagonism in the Modernity-Postmodernity Tension

The Emptiness of Hegemonic Masculinity

From Limit to Hegemony

Chapter Nine: The Impossibility of Society Thesis: Some Final Considerations


Moving Between the Possibility and Impossibility of Society

Towards Syncretism: A Sociology of Postmarxism

About the Author

Richard Howson is Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Wollongong

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Sociology

This series presents cutting-edge developments and debates within the field of sociology. It provides a broad range of case studies and the latest theoretical perspectives, while covering a variety of topics, theories and issues from around the world. It is not confined to any particular school of thought.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General