Utopia: Social Theory and the Future: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Utopia: Social Theory and the Future

1st Edition

By Keith Tester

Edited by Michael Hviid Jacobsen


240 pages

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In the light of globalization's failure provide the universal panacea expected by some of its more enthusiastic proponents, and the current status of neo-liberalism in Europe, a search has begun for alternative visions of the future; alternatives to the free market and to rampant capitalism. Indeed, although these alternatives may not be conceived of in terms of being a 'perfect order', there does appear to be a trend towards 'utopian thinking', as people - including scholars and intellectuals - search for inspiration and visions of better futures. If, as this search continues, it transpires that politics has little to offer, then what might social theory have to contribute to the imagination of these futures? Does social theory matter at all? What resources can it offer this project of rethinking the future? Without being tied to any single political platform, Utopia: Social Theory and the Future explores some of these questions, offering a timely and sustained attempt to make social theory relevant through explorations of its resources and possibilities for utopian imaginations. It is often claimed that utopian thought has no legitimate place whatsoever in sociological thinking, yet utopianism has remained part and parcel of social theory for centuries. As such, in addition to considering the role of social theory in the imagination of alternative futures, this volume reflects on how social theory may assist us in understanding and appreciating utopia or utopianism as a special topic of interest, a special subject matter, a special analytical focus or a special normative dimension of sociological thinking. Bringing together the latest work from a leading team of social theorists, this volume will be of interest to sociologists, social and political theorists, anthropologists and philosophers.


’These essays, concerned with contemporary issues, make a significant contribution to understanding the roles that utopianism can play in helping us both improve our understanding of the issues and change our lives for the better.’ Lyman Tower Sargent, University of Missouri-St. Louis, USA ’Utopia was a great idea, till round 1917. After that, we face a hinge: utopia/dystopia. The great virtue of this book is to point us back before, outside, under, over and beyond this: to reconsider utopia, and to open social theory out to utopia again. It points beyond the graveyards, to utopian fields still open to imagination and endeavour.’ Peter Beilharz, La Trobe University, Australia ’Firmly rooted in the intellectual traditions of sociology, social and political theory and philosophy, this enjoyable and interesting collection of essays presents itself as a forum for reflection on utopia…’ L’indice dei libri del mese

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: utopia as a topic for social theory, Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester; Part I Theoretical Musings: Utopia and the end of history, Henk de Berg; What is concrete about Ernst Bloch’s ’concrete utopia’?, Peter Thompson; Dreams, visions and utopias - romantic and realist revolutionaries and the idyllic, Arpad Szakolczai; Liquid modern 'utopia' - Zygmunt Bauman on the transformation of utopia, Michael Hviid Jacobsen; Houellebecq’s dystopia - a case of the elective affinity between sociology and literature, Anders Petersen and Michael Hviid Jacobsen. Part II Theories in Motion: Utopia and criminology, Peter Young; Utopianism, dystopianism and ecological thought, Kate Rigby; Social movement as utopian practice, Andrew Jamison; Virtual utopias and dystopias - the cultural imaginary of the internet, Majid Yar; Utopias of mobility, Ole B. Jensen and Malene Freudendal-Pedersen; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Michael Hviid Jacobsen is Professor of Sociology at Aalborg University, Denmark, and co-editor of The Sociology of Zygmunt Bauman, Encountering the Everyday, and The Transformation of Modernity. Keith Tester is Professor at The Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology at LaTrobe University, Australia and Senior Fellow at the Centrum Myśli Jana Pawła II, Warsaw, Poland. He is author of Humanitarianism and Modern Culture, Moral Culture, The Social Thought of Zygmunt Bauman, and Animals and Society.

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