Situating Social Theory by Tim May
This original and approachable text examines social theory in the context of its traditions and historical development, and explores its contemporary relevance in explaining society and understanding social relations.
The book begins by charting the history of social theory, examining its development in terms of the Enlightenment project and the cultural and intellectual contexts in which theorists worked and constructed their ideas. It goes on to examine traditions in social thought, including hermeneutics, phenomenology, pragmatism, critical theory, structuralism, systems theory and feminisms. In outlining the main ideas behind these traditions, the form and content of modern social theory is situated within its historical antecedents, enabling the reader to actively explore the arguments and reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses.
The body of the text examines schools of thought and social theorists that represent the current terrain of social theory, including Goffman, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, Giddens, Habermas, Foucault, Bourdieu, feminisms and postmodernism. The chapters follow a common format, locating the main ideas in terms of relevant traditions and historical context, discussing how theories have subsequently developed, and examining the modifications, applications and critiques of these ideas. Throughout, a focus on the relationship between agency, ideas on the social self and social structure provides a thematic coherence. Finally, a comprehensive bibliography will help the reader to explore theories of particular interest in greater depth.
Situating Social Theory is designed as an invaluable text for intermediate undergraduate courses within sociology and the wider social sciences, and it will provide an essential source of reference for advanced undergraduates and postgraduate researchers.