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Book part
Publication date: 18 November 2015

Amanda Earley

This paper reconsiders the role of critical theory within the field of consumer culture theory.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper reconsiders the role of critical theory within the field of consumer culture theory.

Methodology/approach

The paper is documentary evidence of a roundtable held at the 10th annual Consumer Culture Theory conference on the subject. The roundtable uses discussion and conceptual methods.

Findings

The author begins with a brief introduction to the use of critical theory in the academy and in CCT more specifically. In the course of the roundtable, it was discovered that the reason we do not talk about critical theory more often may be attributable to its success, rather than failure – indeed, it has inspired so many new academic traditions, that we rarely pause to think of the various critical traditions in one place. Building on this foundation, participants were asked to discuss what critical theory means to them; what theorists they have used; what engagement they have had with critical theory traditions in CCT; and what their vision for critical theory influenced consumer research would be. Participation came from both planned and emergent participants. The final conclusion was the felicitous discovery that critical traditions are alive and well in consumer culture theory, and that there are many pathways to pursue critical consumer research in the future.

Originality/value

The roundtable session and paper are a direct response to the conference theme, which asked conference attendees to reflect on the history of consumer research, and specifically the role of critical theory within it. Moreover, the paper builds upon important debates about the philosophy of science and the role of critical theory within consumer research.

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Book part
Publication date: 20 May 2011

Harry F. Dahms

Despite profound differences, both the German Historical School and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School have in common a theoretical and cultural heritage in…

Abstract

Despite profound differences, both the German Historical School and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School have in common a theoretical and cultural heritage in Central European traditions of social thought and philosophy. Although both schools often are perceived as quintessentially German traditions of economic and social research, their methodological presuppositions and critical intent diverge strongly. Since the objective of the Frankfurt School was to carry the theoretical critique initiated by Marx into the twentieth century, and since its members did so on a highly abstract level of theoretical criticism, the suggestion may be surprising that in terms of their respective research agendas, there was a common denominator between the German Historical School and the Frankfurt School critical theory. To be sure, as will become apparent, the common ground was rather tenuous and indirect. We must ask, then: in what respects did their theoretical and analytical foundations and orientations overlap? How did the German Historical School, as a nineteenth-century tradition of economic thinking, influence the development of the Frankfurt School?

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The Vitality Of Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-798-8

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Book part
Publication date: 1 September 2017

Abstract

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The Ideological Evolution of Human Resource Management
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-389-2

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Book part
Publication date: 6 November 2015

Michael J. Thompson

To defend the thesis that critical theory has become unable to call into question and challenge the main impulses of modern capitalist societies. The reason for this is…

Abstract

Purpose

To defend the thesis that critical theory has become unable to call into question and challenge the main impulses of modern capitalist societies. The reason for this is that the capacities of language on the one hand and the hermeneutic processes that underlie the process of “recognition” are insufficient to counter the power of socialization to shape subjectivity and the cognitive and evaluative capacities of subjects.

Methodology/approach

I provide a critical reading of the methodology of linguistic and recognitive theories of intersubjectivity by means of a theory of domination derived from Rousseau which shapes the cognitive and epistemic powers of subjects thereby weakening their capacity to be socialized via the media of language and social recognition.

Findings

By divorcing our cognitive ideas about the social world from the social-ontological processes that shape and deform it under capitalism, this brand of critical theory succeeds in sealing off the mechanisms of social domination and power relations that were at the heart of the enterprise from its inception.

Research limitations/implications

Critical theory must move toward a more comprehensive theory of the social totality in order for it to retain its critical character.

Originality/value

The paper questions the main ideas held by the mainstream of critical theory such as its reliance on hermeneutic and linguistic forms of consciousness and social praxis as well as a theoretical reliance on pragmatic theories of mind and Mead’s conception of socialization.

Details

Globalization, Critique and Social Theory: Diagnoses and Challenges
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-247-4

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Book part
Publication date: 31 October 2014

Michael J. Thompson

To defend the thesis that the base-superstructure hypothesis central to Marxist theory is also central paradigm of the tradition of Critical Theory. This is in opposition…

Abstract

Purpose

To defend the thesis that the base-superstructure hypothesis central to Marxist theory is also central paradigm of the tradition of Critical Theory. This is in opposition to those who see this hypothesis as determinist and eliminating the possibilities for the autonomy of social action. In doing so, it is able to retard and atrophy the critical capacities of subjects.

Design/methodology/approach

Emphasis on the return to a structural-functionalist understanding of social processes that places this version of Critical Theory against the more domesticated forms that consider “discourse ethics” and an “ethic of recognition” as the normative research program for Critical Theory. Also, an analysis of the purpose and logic of functional arguments and their relation to Marx’s concept of “determination” is undertaken.

Findings

The essence of Critical Theory hinges upon the ways that social structures are able to deform and shape structures of consciousness of modern subjects to predispose them to forms of domination and to view the prevailing hierarchical structures of extractive domination as legitimate in some basic sense.

Research limitations/implications

The foundations of Critical Theory need to be rooted in a renewed understanding of the relation between social structure and forms of consciousness. This means a move beyond theories of social practices into the realm of social epistemology as well as the mechanisms of consciousness and their relation to ideology.

Originality/value

Few analyses of the relation between the base and the superstructure or material organization of society and the social-epistemological layer of consciousness delineate the mechanisms involved in shaping consciousness. I undertake an analysis that utilizes insights from the philosophy of mind such as the theory of intentionality as well as the sociological approach to values through Parsons.

Details

Mediations of Social Life in the 21st Century
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-222-7

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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2019

George Steinmetz

This review of Amy Allen’s book, The End of Progress (2016), first addresses the structure of the book and focuses on specific points made in individual chapters…

Abstract

This review of Amy Allen’s book, The End of Progress (2016), first addresses the structure of the book and focuses on specific points made in individual chapters, including the affinity between postcolonial theory and the approaches of Adorno and Foucault in subjecting the notion of historical progress to “withering critique,” and Allen’s alternative approach to decolonization; Habermas’ aim to put critical theory on a secure normative footing; Honneth’s stance that the history of an ethical sphere is an unplanned learning process kept in motion by a struggle for recognition; Forst’s attempt to reconstruct Critical Theory’s normative account through a return to Kant rather than Hegel; and Allen’s claim that her approach is fully in the spirit of Critical Theory and could be seen as continuation of Critical Theory’s first generation, as in Adorno, and how it is a “genealogical” approach that draws on Adorno’s negative dialectics and critique of identity thinking, as well as on Nietzsche’s conception of genealogy, as developed by Foucault. The second part of my response raises three issues: (1) Allen’s partial compromise with the idea of progress; (2) whether critical theory would profit from engagement with other critical theories and theories of ethics, beyond postcolonial theory; and (3) nonwestern theories shed a different light on the question of Allen’s critique, a theme that also draws attention to the gesture of decolonizing, the distinctions between colonialism and empire, and the sociology of knowledge production.

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Book part
Publication date: 20 May 2011

Harry F. Dahms

Any endeavor to circumscribe, with a certain degree of precision, the nature of the relationship between social science and critical theory would appear to be daunting…

Abstract

Any endeavor to circumscribe, with a certain degree of precision, the nature of the relationship between social science and critical theory would appear to be daunting. Over the course of the past century, and especially since the end of World War II, countless efforts have been made in economics, psychology, political science, and sociology, to illuminate the myriad manifestations of modern social life, from a multiplicity of angles. It is doubtful that it would be possible to do justice to all the different variants of social science, in an assessment of their relationship to critical theory. Moreover, given the proliferation of critical theories since the 1980s, the effort to devise a “map” that would reflect the particular orientations and intricacies of each approach to critical theory also would be exacting, in its own right.1

Details

The Vitality Of Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-798-8

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Book part
Publication date: 28 July 2008

Harry F. Dahms

Any endeavor to circumscribe, with a certain degree of precision, the nature of the relationship between social science and critical theory would appear to be daunting…

Abstract

Any endeavor to circumscribe, with a certain degree of precision, the nature of the relationship between social science and critical theory would appear to be daunting. Over the course of the past century, and especially since the end of World War II, countless efforts have been made in economics, psychology, political science, and sociology to illuminate the myriad manifestations of modern social life from a multiplicity of angles. It is doubtful that it would be possible to do justice to all the different variants of social science in an assessment of their relationship to critical theory. Moreover, given the proliferation of critical theories since the 1980s, the effort to devise a “map” that would reflect the particular orientations and intricacies of each approach to critical theory would also be exacting in its own right.1

Details

No Social Science without Critical Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-538-3

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2005

Nancy Meyer-Emerick

Critical theory has rarely articulated an agenda for social change linking theory to practice. This paper provides several examples of “critical theory in practice” and…

Abstract

Critical theory has rarely articulated an agenda for social change linking theory to practice. This paper provides several examples of “critical theory in practice” and focuses specifically on Fay’s Critical Social Science (CSS) model. The methods of conflict transformation are then applied to CSS in order to accomplish two goals. First, political conflicts resulting from decision making can be used to transform both individuals and systems. Second, CSS more adequately accounts for some of the non-rational aspects of human nature, such as our resistance to change, thus improving its catalytic validity as a critical social theory. Together, the processes of CSS and conflict transformation provide a framework for enhancing the potential for citizen governance.

Details

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, vol. 8 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1093-4537

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2001

Dawn Burton

There has been considerable recent discussion about the relevance of critical theory to management discourse and its implications for the education of managers. Within…

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Abstract

There has been considerable recent discussion about the relevance of critical theory to management discourse and its implications for the education of managers. Within this debate, marketing, and by implication, marketing academics, have been extensively criticised by those outside the discipline for failing to embrace more critical theoretical approaches in their work. Unfavourable parallels have been made with management accounting which has a similar academic/practitioner profile but where critical theory was embraced over two decades ago. The objectives of this paper are threefold: to attempt to account for the lack of critical theory in the discipline; to provide a critical evaluation of the usefulness of critical theory in marketing discourse; and to assess some of the practical implications associated with the implementation of critical theoretical approaches in teaching, research and publishing.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 35 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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