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On late modernity and social statehood

Populism, neoliberalism, and globalisation are just three of the many terms used to analyse the challenges facing democracies around the world. Critical Theory and Sociological Theory examines those challenges by investigating how the conditions of democratic statehood have been altered at several key historical intervals since 1945. The author explains why the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood, such as elections, have always been complemented by civic, cultural, educational, socio-economic, and, perhaps most importantly, constitutional institutions mediating between citizens and state authority. Critical theory is rearticulated with a contemporary focus in order to show how the mediations between citizens and statehood are once again rapidly changing. The book looks at the ways in which modern societies have developed mixed constitutions in several senses that go beyond the official separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. In addition to that separation, one also witnesses a complex set of conflicts, agreements, and precarious compromises that are not adequately defined by the existing conceptual vocabulary on the subject. Darrow Schecter shows why a sociological approach to critical theory is urgently needed to address prevailing conceptual deficits and to explain how the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood need to be complemented and updated in new ways today.

The politics of modern thought and science

Epistemology should be the axe that breaks the ice of a traditionalism that covers and obstructs scientific enlightenment. This book explores the arguments between critical theory and epistemology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Focusing on the first and second generations of critical theorists and Luhmann's systems theory, it examines how each approaches epistemology. The book offers a critique of the Kantian base of critical theory's epistemology in conjunction with the latter's endeavour to define political potential through the social function of science. The concept of dialectics is explored as the negation of the irrational and, furthermore, as the open field of epistemological conflict between rationality and irrationality. The book traces the course of arguments that begin with Dilthey's philosophy of a rigorous science, develop with Husserl's phenomenology, Simmel's and Weber's interest in the scientific element within the social concerns of scientific advance. In structuralism, the fear of dialogue prevails. The book discusses the epistemological thought of Pierre Bourdieu and Gilles Deleuze in terms of their persistence in constructing an epistemological understanding of social practice free from the burdens of dialectics, reason and rationality. It also enquires into issues of normativity and modernity within a comparative perspective on modernism, postmodernism and critical theory. Whether in relation to communication deriving from the threefold schema of utterance- information- understanding or in relation to self- reflexivity, systems theory fails to define the bearer or the actor of the previous structural processes. Critical realism attempted to ground dialectics in realism.

The affective politics of the early Frankfurt School

This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.

The case for societal constitutionalism
Editor: Diana Göbel

This volume collects and revises the key essays of Gunther Teubner, one of the world’s leading sociologists of law. Written over the past twenty years, these essays examine the ‘dark side’ of functional differentiation and the prospects of societal constitutionalism as a possible remedy. Teubner’s claim is that critical accounts of law and society require reformulation in the light of the sophisticated diagnoses of late modernity in the writings of Niklas Luhmann, Jacques Derrida and select examples of modernist literature. Autopoiesis, deconstruction and other post-foundational epistemological and political realities compel us to confront the fact that fundamental democratic concepts such as law and justice can no longer be based on theories of stringent argumentation or analytical philosophy. We must now approach law in terms of contingency and self-subversion rather than in terms of logical consistency and rational coherence.

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Introduction Which methodological and substantive issues should define the contours of a critical theory of society in the twenty-​first century, and why does the relation between critical theory and sociological theory need to be re-​articulated today? Some observers may wish to argue that the need for a critical theory of society has in fact gone with the publication of Jürgen Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action (1981) and the alleged linguistic turn in social and political thought. Advocates of this assessment maintain that critical theory provided

in Critical theory and sociological theory
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Democratic state, capitalist society, or dysfunctional differentiation?

degree of autonomy from the University of Frankfurt and from the trade unions and the political parties of the Weimar Left. The desideratum of political-​epistemological distance from prevailing patterns of institutional mediation was as important to critical theory then as it is today. The distance in question can be likened to the spaces needed to supplement the divisions between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the state with additional public resources designed to promote the sharing and control of power. In terms of taking critical theory

in Critical theory and sociological theory
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 1 Introduction Die Aufklärung, die ein radikales Verstehen bewirkt, ist immer politisch. Jürgen Habermas, Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik1 [T]‌he sciences are too important to be left exclusively to scientists, and indeed they have not been. Norman Stockman, Antipositivist Theories of the Sciences2 Is there a winter of epistemological discontent? Epistemology should be the axe that breaks the ice of a traditionalism that covers and obstructs scientific enlightenment. This is an idea inspired by the work of Franz Kafka.3 Critical Theory and Epistemology is a

in Critical theory and epistemology
Objects, affects, mimesis

realism’ (SR). In this chapter, I want to show how the contemporary (re)turn to objects initially serves as a useful corrective to social or political theories that fail to properly engage with the object world (this includes forms of traditional Marxism that often presume ‘reification’ to be a perennial evil, rather than a particular social relation). I take this as an opportunity for a timely reconstruction of early 82 Critical theory and feeling critical theory’s own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis. This is most evident in Siegfried

in Critical theory and feeling
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, as he maintains, encompass both perception and the laws that guide science towards predictability. Bhaskar’s conception of dialectics is already apparent in his A Realist Theory of Science,4 and it governs all his work until his Dialectic, which is probably one of his final contributions to the issue of science and epistemology. In the present chapter, I argue that his idea of predictability in science through mechanisms is of a pre-​critical character and that he fails to acknowledge that norms generate rationality. Bhaskar’s counter-​enlightenment epistemology

in Critical theory and epistemology
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means of an introduction to systems theory. In his work, Luhmann attempts to redefine communication, and associates it with information. For Luhmann, communication is distinct from action (Handeln), and the rationality of the scientific system resides in the notion of Zweck, or in the ends of the sciences towards action. For the first time in the   2 1 112 Critical theory and epistemology epistemological history of modernity, rationality is understood as a certain scientific purpose of action and not as the critique of scientific truth and validity of reason. The

in Critical theory and epistemology