What are the origins and purposes of social critique? The book explores how critique has been taken for granted by scholars, and how it can be recuperated as a moving force in history. Rather than use critique as a mode of investigating social phenomenon, this book analyses critique as a social phenomenon. Critique is both constitutive of modernity and exceedingly diverse, and not only that but widely taken for granted in scholarly communities. Herein, the resources of historical sociology and anthropology are used in order to gain perspective on critique as something culturally specific to modernity. Based on this, I analyze critique as moving force in history, part of the dynamic of capitalism and consumerism, a recurring trope in the media from all any political positions, and finally as a common-place even of popular culture. Finally, I turn to some key literary writers who have explored critique as a social phenomenon within their work, thus providing a reflexive perspective on critique as a lived experience.
1. The Critic's Paradox; 2. Towards and Anthropology of Critique; 3. Historicity of Critique; 4. Critical Subjectivity: Towards a Gnomonic model of subject constitution; 5. The Circus of Critique: On the Public Sphere; 6. The Economic Reality and All-Consuming Critiques; 7. Political Critiques: The cases of Occupy and Ordo-Liberalism; 8. Literature as insight into critique: Experience and Conversion.