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Rediscovering the work of Edward Shils

Edward Shils was an important figure in twentieth century social theory, and a true transatlantic thinker who divided his time between the University of Chicago and the U.K. He was friends with many important thinkers in other fields, such as Michael Polanyi and Saul Bellow. He became known to sociologists through his brief collaboration with Talcott Parsons, but his own thinking diverged both from Parsons and conventional sociology. He developed but never finalized a comprehensive image of human society made up of personal, civic, and sacred bonds. But much of his thought was focused on conflicts: between intellectuals and their societies, between tradition and modernity, ideological conflict, and conflicts within the traditions of the modern liberal democratic state. This book explores the thought of Shils, his relations to key figures, his key themes and ideas, and his abiding interests in such topics as the academic tradition and universities. Together, the chapters provide the most comprehensive picture of Shils as a thinker, and explain his continuing relevance.

Simon Skinner

That hostility to the Reformation was a feature of the Oxford Movements outlook is a truism, but Tractarians’ anti-Reformation sentiments went much further than the purely theological. Tractarians consistently held that in its repudiation of antiquity and elevation of sola scriptura, the Reformation had launched a wider rationalism whose socio-economic as well as religious consequences they abhorred. If a Tractarian paternalism – which mourned the welfare consequences of the dissolution of the monasteries, and the rise of capitalism and its bourgeoisie,– had much in common with other nineteenth-century social criticism, a crucial difference emerged at the point of prescription. Their uncompromising advocacy of the church as the sole agency of amelioration, and promotion of such schemes as sisterhoods, sharply distinguished Tractarians,from advocates of legislative intervention or ethical socialism. Tractarians therefore looked not forward, to the ideal of a welfare state, but back, to the ideal of a welfare church.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Abstract only
Society, allegory and gender
Author: S. H. Rigby

This book on Geoffrey Chaucer explores the relationship between Chaucer's poetry and the change and conflict characteristic of his day and the sorts of literary and non-literary conventions that were at his disposal for making sense of the society around him. Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. Many of the present generation of Chaucer critics have been trained either as 'Robertsonians' or as 'Donaldsonians'. For D. W. Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for E. Talbot Donaldson, there are 'no such poems in Middle English'. The book sets out the basics of the Augustinian doctrine of charity and of medieval allegorical theory and examines 'patristic' interpretations of Chaucer's work, particularly of the 'Nun's Priest Tale'. It looks at the humanist alternative to the patristic method and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the patristic approach. The book also outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal.

Bryan Fanning

journal Studies by Peter Finlay SJ argued that the programme of Connolly’s Irish Republican Socialist Party was one that Leo XIII had explicitly condemned. However, in The Social Teachings of James Connolly (1921), the first major study of his writings by another Jesuit, Lambert McKenna, a trenchant critic of Marxism, claimed some of Connolly’s FANNING 9781784993221 PRINT.indd 47 19/01/2016 13:25 48 Irish adventures in nation-building socialist principles were in accordance with Catholic social thought.11 In the absence of a realistic socialist threat the main

in Irish adventures in nation-building
Bryan S. Turner

neoclassical school of economics, 192 the calling of social thought Knight translated and published Weber’s General Economic History ([1923] 1927), which was a collection of lecture notes (Wirtschaftsgeschichte) that had been assembled by Weber’s students in 1923. This volume is important because it departs significantly from the religious framework of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1930) by placing emphasis on the State and dependable law. The importance of Knight’s approach to Weber was subsequently ‘rediscovered’ by Randall Collins, Daniel Chirot

in The calling of social thought
Clive Barnett

commitment to the ‘primacy of practice’ only raises the question of how Pragmatism differs from lots of other traditions of social thought. There is a risk of painting too narrow a picture of the world from which resources for thinking practically can be drawn. On the other hand, and more to the point perhaps, practice is not necessarily a very important concept in Pragmatism. It is experience that is the central concept, understood not as an attribute of an isolated consciousness squaring off against a passive external world, but as a shared and interactive phenomenon

in The power of pragmatism
Bryan Fanning

: ‘The very children in the streets play at assassination, ambush and robbery.’12 After independence Studies published many articles on the implications of Catholic social thought as set out in the papal encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931). A key contributor here was Alfred O’Rahilly, Professor of Mathematics and later President of University College Cork. Article after article struggled with FANNING 9781784993221 PRINT.indd 59 19/01/2016 13:25 60 Irish adventures in nation-building the ­practicalities of corporatist and vocationalist

in Irish adventures in nation-building
Mark Garnett and Kevin Hickson

widespread impression that the Conservatives had embraced laissez-faire between the wars – it is difficult to see how a policy statement on industry could have been different without taking on the characteristics of a suicide note. As Butler remarked to the Party Chairman, Lord Woolton, the Charter ‘placed the party on the fairway of modern economic and social thought’; it was certainly not a slice to the right, but only those who wanted the Conservatives to dwindle into a doctrinaire pressure group could regard it as a wild hook to the left (or, as the cant phrase of the

in Conservative thinkers
Abstract only
The bare essentials
Ali Rattansi

and more effective ways have not been made available’ (Bauman and Bordoni 2014: 83). The two key features of the liquid phase of modernity for Bauman are globalisation and individualisation. Bauman’s analyses of these interrelated phenomena are generally economistic, a point endorsed but not criticised by Tester in his well-informed exegesis of Bauman’s social thought (Tester 2004: 164). Globalisation is primarily seen to be the outcome of the freeing of capital controls and the unleashing of market forces, initially in Western economies, but to be in danger of

in Bauman and contemporary sociology
S. H. Rigby

social meaning of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools. Firstly, there are those who interpret Chaucer as essentially ‘conservative’ in his social outlook, whether or not they themselves approve of this outlook, and who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day (section ii). Secondly, there are those who see Chaucer as possessing a more

in Chaucer in context