On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation

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Polity, Apr 18, 2011 - Social Science - 191 pages
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The relationship between sociology and social critique has hauntedthe discipline since its origins. Does critique divert sociologyfrom its scientific project? Or is critique the ultimate goal ofsociology, without which the latter would be a futile activitydisconnected from the concerns of ordinary people? This issue hasunderpinned two divergent theoretical orientations that can befound in the discipline today: the critical sociology that wasdeveloped in its most elaborate form by Pierre Bourdieu, and thepragmatic sociology of critique developed by Luc Boltanski and hisassociates.

In critical sociology, description in terms of power relationsunderscores the potency of mechanisms of oppression, the way theoppressed passively endure them, going so far in their alienationas to
adopt the values that enslave them. Pragmatic sociology, bycontrast, describes the actions of human beings who rebel but whoare endowed with reason. It stresses their ability, in certainhistorical conditions, to rise up against their domination andconstruct new interpretations of reality in the service of criticalactivity.

In this major new book Boltanski develops a framework that makesit possible to reconcile these seemingly antagonistic approaches -the one determinist and assigning the leading role to theenlightening science of the sociologist, the other concerned tostick as closely as possible to what people say and do. This labourof unification leads him to rework central notions such aspractice, institution, critique and, finally, ‘socialreality,' all with the aim of contributing to a contemporaryrenewal of practices of emancipation.

 

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Contents

1 THE STRUCTURE OF CRITICAL THEORIES
1
2 CRITICAL SOCIOLOGY AND PRAGMATIC SOCIOLOGY OF CRITIQUE
18
3 THE POWER OF INSTITUTIONS
50
4 THE NECESSITY OF CRITIQUE
83
5 POLITICAL REGIMES OF DOMINATION
116
6 EMANCIPATION IN THE PRAGMATIC SENSE
150
NOTES
161
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spanstyle="font-family: "Arial","sans-serif"; color: black;"LucBoltanski is Professor of Sociology at the/span spanstyle="font-family: "Arial","sans-serif"; color: black;" lang="EN-GB"École des hautes études en sciencessociales,/span spanstyle="font-family: "Arial","sans-serif"; color: black;"Paris/span

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