The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology

The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology

The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology

The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology

Excerpt

Social theorists today work within a crumbling social matrix of paralyzed urban centers and battered campuses. Some may put cotton in their ears, but their bodies still feel the shock waves. It is no exaggeration to say that we theorize today within the sound of guns. The old order has the picks of a hundred rebellions thrust into its hide.

While I was working on this study, one of the popular songs of the time was "Come on Baby, Light My Fire." It is characteristic of our time that this song, which is an ode to urban conflagration, was made into a singing commercial by an auto manufacturer in Detroit, the very city whose burning and looting it celebrated. One wonders: Is this "repressive tolerance," or is it, more simply, that they just do not understand? It is this context of social contradictions and conflicts that is the historical matrix of what I have called "The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology." What I shall be examining here is the reflection of these conflicts in the idiom of social theory.

The present study is part of a larger work plan, whose first product was Enter Plato, and whose objective is to contribute to an historically informed sociology of social theory. The plan envisages a series of studies called "The Social Origins of Western Social Theory," and I am now at work on two other volumes in it. One of these is on the relation of the nineteenth century Romantic movement to social theory, and another is a study in which I hope to connect the various analytic threads, presenting a more systematic and generalized sociological theory about social theories.

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