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Bringing the Critical Back in: Toward the Resurrection of the Frankfurt School

Mediations of Social Life in the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-78441-223-4, eISBN: 978-1-78441-222-7

Publication date: 31 October 2014

Abstract

Purpose

To resurrect and renew the tradition of the early Frankfurt School, whose of Marxist–Hegelian dialectical approach to understanding the societal conditions of its emergence – post World War I Germany, the rise of fascism, New Deal politics, the defeat of fascism, and the subsequent rise of consumer society – remains relevant to studying present circumstances, stressing the cultural dimension of capitalism, the proliferation of alienation, ideology, and mass media, and, finally, the nature of the society-character/subjectivity nexus.

Methodology

Employing a comparative historical approach to the study of alienation, ideology, and character, to articulate social-theoretical standards for critical social research today.

Social implications

Global civilization faces an array of crises, beginning with economies whose lack of growth or stability the ability of a large segment of the world’s population to obtain jobs conducive to a decent standard of life. With governments’ inability to implement public policies to buffer instabilities, cultural values are in crisis as well.

Findings

Reviving the framework of early Frankfurt School Critical Theory is necessary to promote a better world.

Originality

Reconstructing key concerns of the Frankfurt School is conducive to critiquing this tradition’s recent preoccupation with communication and recognition, and demonstrates how the first generation’s legacy helps us understand contemporary social movements of the Right and the Left, in ways that are similar to the Weimar Republic in Germany. Both the Right and the Left being products of legitimation crises that trigger a desire for regressive or progressive social change – the Right would restore a mythical past, the Left would foster a new social order based on humanistic concerns.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

The author is very indebted to Harry Dahms whose editing was above and beyond the call of duty.

Citation

Langman, L. (2014), "Bringing the Critical Back in: Toward the Resurrection of the Frankfurt School", Mediations of Social Life in the 21st Century (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 195-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0278-120420140000032008

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited