Durkheim's Ghosts is a fascinating presentation of the tradition of social theory influenced by Emile Durkheim's thinking on the social foundations of knowledge. From Saussure and Levi-Strauss to Foucault, Bourdieu and Derrida, today's criticisms of modern politics and culture owe an important, if unacknowledged, debt to Durkheim. These engaging and innovative essays by leading sociologist Charles Lemert bring together his writings on the contributions of French social theory past and present. Rather than merely interpret the theories, Lemert uses them to explore the futures of sociology, social theory, and culture studies. Durkheim's Ghosts offers the reader original insights into Durkheim's legacy and the wider French traditions for the cultural and social sciences. Of special note is the book's new and exciting theory of culture and semiotics. Provocative, scholarly, imaginative and ambitious this book will be invaluable to anyone interested in social theory, culture, and intellectual history of modern times.
Charles Lemert is Andrus Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He is a leading sociologist and his many books include Muhammad Ali: Trickster in the Culture of Irony, French Sociology: Rupture and Renewal since 1968, Michel Foucault: Social Theory and Transgression, and Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life. His book Social Theory is a best-selling text in the field.
Foreword; Preface; Part I. Cultural Logics: 1. Frantz Fanon and the living ghosts of capitalism's world system. Durkheim's Ghosts in the culture of sociologies; 2. Levi-Strauss and the sad tropics of modern cultures. What is culture? Amid the flowers, seeds or weeds?; 3. Paris 1907 and why the sociological imagination is always unstable. Sociological theory and the relativistic paradigm; 4. Ferdinand de Saussure and why the social contract is a cultural arbitrary. Literary politics and the Champ of French sociology; Part II. Durkheim's Ghosts: 5. Marcel Mauss and Durkheim and why the ghosts of social differences are ubiquitous. Durkheim's woman and the Jew as the pluperfect past of the good society; 6. Jacques Derrida and why global structures had to die when they did. The uses of French structuralisms in sociology; 7. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and why structures haunt instruments and measures. Structures, instruments, and reading in social and cultural research (with Willard A. Nielsen, Jr.); 8. Roland Barthes and the phantasmagorias of social things. Language, structure and measurement; Part III. Culture as the Ghost of Primitive Transgressions: 9. Michel Foucault and why analytic categories are queer. Pierre Bourdieu's aesthetic critique of sociological judgment; 10. Simone de Beauvoir and why culture is a semiotics of the other: Michel Foucault, social theory, and transgression (with Garth Gillan); 11. Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein and why globalization is a social geography of inequalities. The impossible system of future worlds. Postscript: what culture is not.