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A reinvigorated social theory based on the social philosophy of John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, William James, and others has begun to make significant contributions to…
A reinvigorated social theory based on the social philosophy of John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, William James, and others has begun to make significant contributions to the study of human societies. The so-called “Pragmatic Turn” in philosophy and social theory, associated especially with Richard Rorty and Hans Joas, has drawn our attention to the role of habit and creativity in social action. This chapter reviews some of these trends, but argues that the modern revival of neopragmatism sidesteps many of the core insights of the classical pragmatists. Relating the issue to Michael Burawoy's call for “public sociology,” and drawing on the pragmatism of C. Wright Mills, a critical public pragmatism would seek to provide the preconditions for democracy via the cultivation of a public that valued what Dewey called “creative intelligence,” and what Mills called “the sociological imagination.”
The contributions included in this volume provide critical assessments of both a range of traditions in social theory, and of their current relevance. In addition, they represent endeavors to apply, refine, integrate, or advance particular traditions in order to enhance our ability to analyze conditions of social life in the twenty-first century and to confront a variety of related challenges. Several of the contributions present efforts to combine the application, refinement, integration, and advancement of particular theoretical traditions. Thematically, they cover several areas in social theory and a spectrum of perspectives, including poststructuralism, feminist theory, and especially critical theory. Chapters address such issues as the authoritarian personality; charisma; the relationship between power, agency, and subjectivity; self-estrangement; pragmatism; and globalization.