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French Social Theory
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French Social Theory



February 2003 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
No national tradition of social theory has been more seductive to Anglo-American readers than the French.There has been a long-standing fascination with French ideas and debates.

This extraordinarily accomplished book, written by one of Britain's leading commentators on social theory, provides a peerless account of the French tradition.The book: provides a systematic account of French social theory from the aftermath of the French Revolution (St Simon, Bazard and Comte) to the contemporary scene dominated by Kristeva, Deleuze, Bourdieu and Baudrillard; divides French social theory into three logically coherent cycles: 1800-80 (positivist); 1880-1940 (anthropological); 1940-2000 (Marxist); provides a detailed guide to the three phases of postwar French social theory - existential, structural and post-structural; and situates the discussions of individuals and schools in the relevant social and political contexts.

The book is a masterpiece of erudition and scholarship but is written throughout in an engaging and informative style. It will be required reading for anyone interested in social theory and sociology.

 
PART ONE: FIRST CYCLE: 1800-1880
 
THE BIRTH SOCIAL THEORY: ALTRUISM
 
The Post-revolutionary Void
 
Sacrificial Theory and the Sociology of Modernity
 
Theory in Crisis
Religion and the Subjective

 
 
End of the First Cycle
Scholasticism

 
 
PART TWO: SECOND CYCLE: 1880-1940
 
THE REBIRTH OF SOCIAL THEORY: ANOMIE
 
Social Theory Reborn
 
French Society
Vanguard without a Norm

 
 
Method in Crisis and the Resort to Theory in Suicide
 
End of the Second Cycle
Anthropology and Religion

 
 
PART THREE: THIRD CYCLE: 1940-2000
 
THE SECOND BIRTH OF SOCIAL THEORY: HYPERTELIA
 
Existential Theory
 
The Algerian War
 
From Pathology to Normativity
 
Structural Theory
 
Radical Theory and the End of the Social
 
Fin-de-Cycle
Time of Counter-Strategies

 
 
Conclusion
Social Theory at the End of the Social

 

"Gane provides a sweeping summary of some of the central themes in French social theory over the last two centuries as he traces French social theory from the birth of the "social" in Saint-Simonianism to the "social's" supposed demise in the recent writings of Jean Baudrillard. . . . overall he does a masterful job of weaving together social theory with French social and intellectual history."

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