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Social Theory Now

The landscape of social theory has changed significantly over the three decades since the publication of Anthony Giddens and Jonathan Turner’s seminal Social Theory Today. Sociologists in the twenty-first century desperately need a new agenda centered around central questions of social theory. In Social Theory Now, Claudio E. Benzecry, Monika Krause, and Isaac Ariail Reed set a new course for sociologists, bringing together contributions from the most distinctive sociological traditions in an ambitious survey of where social theory is today and where it might be going.

The book provides a strategic window onto social theory based on current research, examining trends in classical traditions and the cutting edge of more recent approaches. From distinctive theoretical positions, contributors address questions about how social order is accomplished; the role of materiality, practice, and meaning; as well as the conditions for the knowledge of the social world. The theoretical traditions presented include cultural sociology, microsociologies, world-system theory and post-colonial theory, gender and feminism, actor network and network theory, systems theory, field theory, rational choice, poststructuralism, pragmatism, and the sociology of conventions. Each chapter introduces a tradition and presents an agenda for further theoretical development. Social Theory Now is an essential tool for sociologists. It will be central to the discussion and teaching of contemporary social theory for years to come.

Read the introduction.

416 pages | 2 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2017

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Philosophy: Philosophy of Society

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

Sociology: General Sociology, Theory and Sociology of Knowledge


“The world needs good social theory now more than ever, and this book is a great beginning. The ideas and arguments are young and fresh, ready to be incorporated as well as further developed by readers from all over the world and with different interests. Social Theory Now is perfect for use in undergraduate courses in all of the social sciences—from sociology to economics.”

Richard Swedberg, Cornell University

“A useful, engaging, and sometimes remarkably good book.”

American Journal of Sociology

“Benzecry, Krause, and Reed represent a new generation of social theorists who are ready to think things afresh. This generation isn’t parricidal, but it does have new preoccupations, tools, and sensibilities. Social Theory Now fruitfully rethinks the most important problems of social theory and shows why they should be important to us, now, in 2017. This is an agenda-setting book.”

Gabriel Abend, New York University

“This fine collection of essays in social theory accounts the need for sociology to be outward rather than inward looking; the authors engage with issues broadly spanning the social sciences and humanities. The book will set a standard for social thought in this generation.”

Richard Sennett, London School of Economics

“The title says it all! This timely collection of essays sparked by Benzecry, Krause, and Reed makes a compelling case for renewing sociological theory today. Bold and conversational, deep yet accessible, Social Theory Now offers readers a wonderful entrée into the next stage of thinking about the future of social life.”

Julia P. Adams, Yale University

“Actively seeks to re-draw the self-conception and boundaries of social theory in the context of a post-positivist, transdisciplinary universe. . .Social Theory Now makes an original, innovative and timely contribution to social theoretical debate.”

Christopher Thorpe | Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory

“This book is quietly doing something remarkable, maybe even radical. . .Social Theory Now is more of an ambitious project of redefinition than its own editors may lead us to believe.”

Paul Lichterman | Perspectives

“There is something about the range of topics and the serious engagement in the voices of the authors that helps me see why people doing “social theory now” get excited about these ideas and perspectives, gives me a more precise idea of their contours, and leaves me thinking about new directions of inquiry. . .Because of the range of contemporary approaches covered, it will be essential reading for anyone wishing to become better informed.”

Lyn Spillman | Perspectives

Table of Contents

Introduction: Social Theory Now
Claudio E. Benzecry, Monika Krause, and Isaac Ariail Reed

1 On the Very Idea of Cultural Sociology
Isaac Ariail Reed

2 Varieties of Microsociology
Claudio E. Benzecry and Daniel Winchester

3 Globalizing Gender
Dorit Geva

4 World Capitalism, World Hegemony, World Empires
Ho-Fung Hung

5 Postcolonial Thought as Social Theory
Julian Go

6 On the Frontiers of Rational Choice
Ivan Ermakoff

7 Systems in Social Theory
Dirk Baecker

8 The Patterns in Between: “Field” as a Conceptual Variable
Monika Krause

9 Poststructuralism Today
Claire Laurier Decoteau

10 Networks and Network Theory: Possible Directions for Unification
Emily Erikson

11 Actor-Network Theory
Javier Lezaun

12 The Sociology of Conventions and Testing
Jörg Potthast

13 Norms and Mental Imagery
Neil Gross and Zachary Hyde

List of Contributors

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