Critical Social Theories

Book Info

  • Length: 254 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"

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Praised for its clarity and accessibility, this fully updated edition of Critical Social Theories presents a comprehensive analysis of leading social and cultural theories today. Diverse perspectives are addressed, from feminism and cultural studies to postmodernism and critical theory. Written accessibly for students and faculty, the second edition includes new chapters on the need for a new public sociology in the post-9/11 era—one that moves beyond both positivism and postmodernism. Agger updates and develops for today's world a model for this engaged sociology rooted in 1960s activism, when C. Wright Mills and Tom Hayden framed the New Left as a vehicle for the sociological imagination.

Author Info

Ben Agger is Professor of Sociology and Humanities at the University of Texas, Arlington, and Director of the Center for Theory. Renowned as a critical theorist, his latest book is entitled Texting Toward Utopia: Kids, Writing, and Resistance (Paradigm 2013).


  1. The Disciplinary Positioning of Theory

    • Critical Social Theory and the Critique of Positivism
    • Interdisciplinary: From the Sociological to the Social
    • Positive, Interpretive, and Critical Theories

  2. The Politics of Grand Narratives I: Theorizing Postmodernity

    • Lyotard’s Critique
    • Modernity “or” Postmodernity?
    • Rationality and Science
    • The End of the Social?

  3. The Politics of Grand Narratives II: From Derrida to Difference Theory

    • Derridean Difference
    • From Post-Marxism to Commodity Postmodernism
    • Multiculturalism: Difference, Narrativity, and New Social Movements
    • Postmodernism as Critical Social Theory

  4. The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School

    • Periodizing Capitalism After Marx
    • Domination I: The Dialectic of Enlightenment Argument
    • Domination II: The Culture Industry Argument
    • Habermas’s Communication Theory

  5. Feminist Theory

    • Patriarchy: Engendering Theory
    • Varieties of Feminist Theory
    • Africana Feminism
    • Postmodern Feminism and Queer Theory: Separation versus Historicity
    • Beyond Gender: Feminism or Postfeminism?

  6. Cultural Studies

    • Marxist Cultural Theory and the Concept of Ideology
    • The Birmingham School
    • Feminist Cultural Studies
    • Baudrillard and Foucault

  7. Critiques of Critical Social Theory

    • Midwestern Empiricism and the Real-Sociology Critique
    • “Marx Was Wrong”
    • Rational Choice Theory and the Economization of Sociology
    • “Friendly” Critiques
    • Responding to Its Critics

  8. Critical Social Theory: Application and Implications

    • Critical Social Research
    • The State and Social Policy
    • Social Control
    • Popular Culture, Discourse Analysis, and Mass Media
    • Gender Studies
    • Social Movements
    • Research Methods
    • Race and Ethnicity
    • Politics and Micropolitics
    • Pedagogical Applications
    • The End of Theory and the Renewal of Sociology

  9. The 1960s at Forty: Renewing Public Sociology in the 21st Century

    • The Hegemony of Positivism
    • After Chicago, Kent State, and the Weather Underground
    • Eroding Sociological Consensus in the Post-9/11 World
    • Beyond Positivism and Postmodernism

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