This book traces a unique story of social theory: one which focuses on its role in offering ideas for alternative societies. In charting this story, Matt Dawson argues that the differences in alternatives offered by social theorists not only demonstrate the diversity in, and value of, sociological perspectives, but also emphasize competing ideas of the role of intellectuals in social change.
The text discusses a collection of social theorists -from key figures such as Marx, Durkheim and Du Bois to less well known or now commonly overlooked writers such as Levitas, Lefebvre and Mannheim. It explains their use of the tools of sociology to critique society and provide visions for alternatives, highlighting elements of the intellectual backgrounds of movements such as socialism, anti-racism, feminism and cosmopolitanism.
Social Theory for Alternative Societies not only explores in detail a variety of thinkers, but also reflects on the relevance of sociology today and on the connection between social theory and the 'real world.' Thus it will be of interest to students of sociology and those interested in ideas for a better society.
Matt Dawson is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow, UK. He is the author of Late Modernity, Individualization and Socialism: An Associational Critique of Neoliberalism (2013, Palgrave Macmillan) and co-editor of Stretching the Sociological Imagination: Essays in Honour of John Eldridge (2015, Palgrave Macmillan).
1. Should Sociologists Offer Alternatives? Value-Free and Critical Sociologies.- 2. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: 'Recipes for the Cook-shops of the Future'.- 3. Emile Durkheim: Curing the Malaise.- 4. W.E.B. Du Bois: A Black Radical Alternative.- 5. George Herbert Mead and Karl Mannheim: Sociology and Democracy.- 6. Henri Lefebvre and Herbert Marcuse: Neo-Marxist Alternatives.- 7. Selma James, Andrea Dworkin and Their Interlocutors: Feminist Alternatives.- 8. Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck: Cosmopolitan Alternatives.- 9. Sociology and Utopia.- 10. Public Sociology.- 11. Conclusion: Sociology and Alternatives.