The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory


The Blackwell Companions to Sociology provide introductions to emerging topics
and theoretical orientations in sociology as well as presenting the scope and
quality of the discipline as it is currently configured. Essays in the Companions
tackle broad themes or central puzzles within the field and are authored by key
scholars who have spent considerable time in research and reflection on the
questions and controversies that have activated interest in their area. This
authoritative series will interest those studying sociology at advanced
undergraduate or graduate level as well as scholars in the social sciences and
informed readers in applied disciplines.
Series List:
The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory
Edited by Bryan S. Turner
The Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists
Edited by George Ritzer
The Blackwell Companion to Law and Society
Edited by Austin Sarat
The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture
Edited by Mark Jacobs and Nancy Hanrahan
The Blackwell Companion to Social Inequalities
Edited by Mary Romero and Eric Margolis
Available in paperback
The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology
Edited by Kate Nash and Alan Scott
The Blackwell Companion to Medical Sociology
Edited by William C. Cockerham
The Blackwell Companion to Sociology
Edited by Judith R. Blau
The Blackwell Companion to Major Classical Social Theorists
Edited by George Ritzer
The Blackwell Companion to Major Contemporary Social Theorists
Edited by George Ritzer
The Blackwell Companion to Criminology
Edited by Colin Sumner
The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Judith Treas, and Martin Richards
The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements
Edited by David A. Snow, Sarah A. Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi

The social theory provides the necessary analytical and philosophical framework within
which the social sciences can develop. Social theory both sustains the achievements
of the past, notes the needs and limitations of the present, and points the way to
future research issues and questions.
Any attempt to offer a generic definition of social theory is confronted immediately by the important differences between various sociological traditions. In considering social theory within a broad international framework, we need to recognize
that sociology is inevitably colored by different local, national, or civilizational circumstances. Polish sociology is obviously very different from American sociology.
The growth of nationalism and the nation-state had a profound effect on the early
development of social theory in Europe in the nineteenth century and during World War
I brought to a tragic conclusion the enormous developments in sociology in both
Germany and France. In the late twentieth century, social theory has also been
responding to the specific national or regional manifestations of information technology and cultural consumption in new theories of globalization. In developing
this New Companion, I have therefore been conscious of the fact that there has
been an important cultural and intellectual gap between American and European
social theory. While Europeans tend to look toward Émile Durkheim, Georg
Simmel, and Max Weber to define the foundational contents of classical sociology,
American sociologists are more likely to consider John Dewey and G. H. Mead as
crucial figures (see chapter 10). This hiatus between American and European traditions, for example by reference to pragmatism, can often be exaggerated, but the
division is nevertheless real (Baert and Turner 2007).

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