Tuesday 18 February 2014

Social Theory Reading List

This list is going to kill me. I've got a wee bit of catching up to do now I'm properly back in the sociological game, so I've made a list of works I need to thoroughly acquaint myself with. It's a monster with some proper beasties on it. Both volumes of Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action? Yup. Robert K Merton's Social Theory and Social Structure? He's there. It's not an exhaustive list by any means. After all, I would like to try and read every single one. And it's less than comprehensive because I might have read a great deal of a certain thinkers' outputs already. Like Bourdieu's, for instance. Lastly, I've missed off my more specialist interests in Marxism and social movements because, well, I can. And I will get round to reading Capital eventually.

Are there any stunning works of modern(ish) social theory missing? Any more feminist suggestions than those listed? Anything here you definitely would not recommend?

Neofunctionalism and After (1998)
The Civil Sphere (2006)
The Dark Side of Modernity (2013)

Althusser: The Detour of Theory – Gregory Elliott (1987)
Althusser: A Critical Reader – Gregory Elliott (1994)
Reading Capital (1970)
Lenin and Philosophy (1971)
Essays in Self Criticism (1976)
Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists (1990)
Philosophy of the Encounter (2006)

Baudrillard Now – Ryan Bishop (2009)
Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976)
Seduction (1990)
The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1995)

The Contemporary Bauman - Anthony Elliott (2007)
Modernity and the Holocaust (1989)
Liquid Modernity (2000)

All that is Solid Melts Into Air (1982) 

Bourdieu: A Critical Reader – Richard Shusterman (1999)
Distinction (1979)
Homo Academicus (1984)
The Field of Cultural Production (1993)
Masculine Domination (1998)
On Television and Journalism (1998)
Acts of Resistance (2001)
The Social Structures of the Economy (2003)

Between Feminism and Psychoanalysis (1989)

Understanding Judith Butler – Anita Brady (2011)
Gender Trouble (1990)
Bodies that Matter (1993)
Excitable Speech (1997)
Undoing Gender (2004)

Manuel Castells – Felix Stalder (2005)
Networks of Outrage and Hope (2012)

Society of the Spectacle (1973) 

Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics - Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982)
Foucault, Health and Medicine – Petersen and Bunton (1997)
The Birth of the Clinic (1972)
The Order of Things (1969)
The Archaeology of Knowledge (1970)
Discipline and Punish (1976)

Unruly Practices (1989)
Fortunes of Feminism (2013)

A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism (2nd ed, 1995)
The Constitution of Society (1984)
Nation States and Violence (1985)
Social Theory and Modern Sociology (1987)
Beyond Left and Right (1994)
In Defence of Sociology (1996)
Conversations with Anthony Giddens (1998)

Erving Goffman – Greg Smith (2006)
Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959)
Asylums (1961)
Stigma (1963)
Strategic Interaction (1969)
Frame Analysis (1974)
Forms of Talk (1981)

Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962)
Knowledge and Human Interests (1968)
Legitimation Crisis (1973)
Theory of Communicative Action Vols 1 and 2 (1981)
Philosophical and Political Profiles (1983)
Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1985)
Postmetaphysical Thinking (1992)
Between Facts and Norms (1996)
Inclusion of the Other (1999)
The Liberating Power of Symbols (2001)
Future of Human Nature (2003)
Between Naturalism and Religion (2008)
Europe (2009)

On the Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

Social Systems (1984)

Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (1989)

Ideology and Utopia (1936)

Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism – Douglas Kellner (1984)
Negations (1972)
The Aesthetic Dimension (1979)
A Study on Authority (2008)

Social Theory and Social Structure (1949)
The Sociology of Science (1973)
On the Shoulders of Giants (1985)
On Social Structure and Science (1996)

Antonio Negri – Timothy Murphy (2012)
Marx Beyond Marx (1979)
Empire (2000)
Multitude (2004)

Talcott Parsons: Theorist of Modernity – Turner and Robertson (1991)
Talcott Parsons: An Intellectual Biography – Uta Gerhardt (2002)
The Social System (1951)

The Phenomenology of the Social World (1967) 

In Other Worlds (1987)

The Poverty of Theory (1978)

Theorising Patriarchy (1990)
The Future for Feminism (2011)


Phil said...

I guess Empire is unavoidable, but I wouldn't bother with Multitude unless you're actually teaching a unit on Negri Studies. He was an appalling stylist in the 1970s and he's only got worse since then.

Do read Schutz if you have a moment(!) - easy reading and mindblowing. Habermas took the idea of the Umwelt from him & completely bollixed it. I'm tempted to recommend Dewey - the Pragmatists have had a bad rap since Rorty, but they don't deserve it.

It pains me to say it, but I'm not sure I'd bother with Thompson (as a social theorist) either. If you read What's Left? by Lisa Jardine & the late Julia Swindells you'll never see EPT and 'socialist humanism' in the same light again.

Ken said...

I read Castells when I had an interest in the origins of the activists in radical social movements. He informed us in the grand manner of European intellectuals that it was well known that the leaderships of the environmental movements were of petit-bourgeois origin. Imagine my excitement. However, try as I might I could find no reference to any evidence that might justify such a claim. It appeared it was something that one just knew. In the light of such grand pronouncements I find myself warming to Anglo-Saxon empiricism.

Boursin said...

Brian Barry, Democracy, Power and Justice (1989)

Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air (1982)

G. A. Cohen, Karl Marx's Theory of History (1978); If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? (2000)

William E. Connolly, The Terms of Political Discourse (1974)

Bernard Crick, In Defence of Politics (5th ed. 2000)

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (1967)

Jon Elster, Ulysses and the Sirens (1979); Sour Grapes (1983)

Raymond Geuss, History and Illusion in Politics (2001); Philosophy and Real Politics (2008)

Colin Hay, Why We Hate Politics (2007)

Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice and Loyalty (1970); Shifting Involvements (1982); The Rhetoric of Reaction (1991)

Paul Ormerod, The Death of Economics (1994)

Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, Wittgenstein and Justice (1972)

Bernard Yack, The Fetishism of Modernities (1997)

I would definitely bother with Thompson. As a social theorist. But if a non-Thompsonian critique of Althusser is called for, Gavin Kitching's neglected Marxism and Science: Analysis of an Obsession (1994)

Anonymous said...

Is Maurice Duverger still relevant?

Anonymous said...

nothing by zygmunt bauman? there's the bauman reader, published by oxford press, or his whole "liquid" series: liquid modernity, liquid modernity, liquid love, liquid life, liquid fear, liquid times. also, how about david harvey's "the condition of postmodernity" or something by henri lefebvre on the sociology of everyday life or the social production of space?


Phil said...

Ah, but Phil, I feel compelled to read The Poverty of Theory. It's sat on my shelf unread for about 15 years! But yes, Schutz! The plan isn't absolutely rigid - if something crops up during the reading that sounds interesting I'll probably seek it out.

Phil said...

Les, I've already done Lefebvre and David Harvey. But Bauman is a serious omission - I'll lump him in.

Cheers for that list, Boursin. Perhaps something to move on to after I've completed this one? ;)

Anonymous said...

Althusser was important to read in the 1960s and 1970s because his 'innovations' (to be polite) in Marxist theory spoke to the deepening crisis of post-1956/1968 Western Communism. So a course on the intellectual history of the post-war European left should probably include his work. As a guide to Marx his work is best ignored.

As for Giddens. The most overrated social theorist alive? Probably. Turgid, banal and derivative. Derek Sayer once wrote a very astute critical appraisal of Giddens’ much vaunted theory of ‘structuration’, making the case that it bore a striking resemblance to Marx’s theory of alienated labour. Worth reading. I still resent the time I wasted reading Giddens when I was an undergraduate and postgraduate. Hours I can never have back.

Zizek can be fun in small measures. His commentaries on Lenin and Robespierre are entertaining and occasionally profound. His introduction to Trotsky’s Terrorism & Communism is shockingly indulgent of the book’s Jacobin authoritarianism.

I would include some stuff by Ranciere: On The Shores of Politics and Hatred of Democracy. And his early critique of Althusser. He pointed out that Althusser had no clothes at a time when almost everyone else was celebrating his genius.

And Adorno: Negative Dialectics.


Evan said...

I would add (although I'm geared towards crim/border stuff):

Giorgio Agamben - Homo Sacer

Homi Bhabha - The Location of Culture

Tara Brabzaon - From Revolution to Revelations

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari - Anti-Oedipus; A Thousand Plateaus

Michel Foucault - The Birth of Biopolitics; Secuirty, Terrirtory, Population

David Garland - The Culture of Control

Paul Gilroy - There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack; After Empire

Stuart Hall, et al - Resistance Through Rituals; Policing the Crisis

Steve Redhead - The Jean Baudrillard Reader

Edward Said - Orientalism

Imogen Tyler - Revolting Subjects

Nick Vaughan-Williams - Border Politics

Phil said...

I always liked Althusser, Mike. Reading For Marx and *understanding* the dense prose was real feather-in-my-cap stuff back in the day. I'm not inclined to write his project off either. Perhaps different to other commentators, I see it as an attempt to render Marx intelligible in light of the terms and theoretical advances in French social science of the day. The result was unwieldy and overly abstract, but I remain convinced there's something in it ...

Stuart said...

Oh, I'd burn all those and just move Capital up your list. All the rest are footnotes. And nowhere near as interesting as the footnotes in Capital.

Anonymous said...

" *understanding* the dense prose was real feather-in-my-cap stuff back in the day."

undergraduates still do that to this day.

i would also add loic wacquant for the work he's done on the body ("carnal" sociology, although i actually hate that term), urban inequality and the kind of carcereal society we've developed for ourselves here in the states.


Anonymous said...

Lovely to see Erving Goffman there. A much underrated sociologist, particularly his stuff about framing and defining the situation.

Mashitup Harry said...

Marx & Goffman. All the rest are ghosts at the feast

Phil said...

Some updates. A few, not a lot. I would like to have a life outside of work and home occasionally!