Social Theory: Twenty Introductory Lectures by Hans Joas, Wolfgang Knöbl

By Hans Joas, Wolfgang Knöbl

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Social concept is the theoretical center of the social sciences, essentially distinguishable from political concept and cultural research. This ebook deals a distinct evaluate of the advance of social concept from the tip of the second one international conflict in 1945 to the current day. Spanning the literature in English, French and German, it presents an outstanding heritage to an important social theorists and theories in modern sociological inspiration, with crisp summaries of the most books, arguments and controversies. It additionally offers with newly rising colleges from rational option to symbolic interactionism, with new bold methods (Habermas, Luhmann, Giddens, Bourdieu), structuralism and antistructuralism, severe revisions of modernization idea, feminism and neopragmatism. Written by way of of the world's prime sociologists and according to their large educational educating, this unrivalled paintings is perfect either for college kids within the social sciences and arts and for someone attracted to modern theoretical debates.

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What happens if they behave in exactly this way – and in circumstances in which goods are scarce? (We can more or less take such circumstances for granted. ) Hobbes’ entirely plausible answer was that under such circumstances human action was bound to lead to pervasive ‘force and fraud’, because as people compete for scarce goods in the absence of constraining rules each individual merely seeks her immediate advantage, her utility. Other people are either utilized as a means of satisfying one’s own needs and desires and may even be violently enslaved or they are deceived about others’ intentions, swindled when exchanging goods, etc.

For we must bear one thing in mind. Not only is it largely due to Parsons that the work of Durkheim and Weber has found such enduring acceptance within American sociology; not only is his creative way of dealing with these authors’ work and his approach to theory building responsible for the fact that American sociology saw major progress in the theoretical field and attained a new, far greater degree of sophistication from the late 1930s on. We should also be especially alert to the fact that even in Europe the status of Durkheim and Weber was by no means secure (any longer); following the death of a fair number of its founding fathers, European sociology entered a period of stagnation in the early 1920s.

Every sociologically interesting theory of action – and utilitarianism is or entails such a theory – must be able to explain how social order can come about. Because social order exists. The events which take place in our society, and also those which took place in Hobbes’ England, do and did so in line with certain rules, because the goals of the members of a society are often identical. But this means that we cannot assume straightforward ‘randomness of ends’ (a term frequently used by Parsons) among the members of a society; it is wrong to assume that people have only very specific, individual goals and conceptions of utility, not all of which or which only randomly tally with those of others, if indeed there is any overlap at all.

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