Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

Synopsis

Property and power perform a key role in social and political theories of class inequality and social stratification, however, theorists have yet clearly to define these concepts, their mutual boundaries and scopes of application. This book answers the property/power puzzle by undertaking a broad historical inquiry into its intellectual origins and present-day effects through a series of case studies, including: Marxism vs. anarchism * the fascist assertion of the primacy of the political * social science as power theory * the managerial revolution * the knowledge society and the new intellectual classes

Excerpt

Rather than for truth’s sake and the world at large, books are usually written for some people and against some others; the present author himself belongs in both categories at once. Every book is a fight for personal identity as much as for communicable clarity, attained by both identifying with and counteracting the example of significant others. Certainly, it is an attempt to persuade, but I need not persuade all others, just those whose judgement is significant to me. Moreover, I must persuade myself as much as them, not simply of the justice of my intellectual intuitions but also of the justice of my existence and ambitions as an intellectual—which is somewhat different from the impersonal and procedural work of justification which is commonly accepted as the hallmark of scientific practice. I confess I have never been much at home in those intellectual lifestyles which repress rather than utilize the committed presence of the observer in the object observed, and which easily forget about the essentially contested nature of all scientific postures and propositions.

If scientific work answers to a logic of significant others, let me name some of those whose judgement I especially sought and appreciated. This book was originally written as a dissertation under Derek Phillips’ and Louis Boon’s supervision at the University of Amsterdam. It was published in a Dutch translation in 1987. But I could not resign myself to the prospect that it would not reach the broader audience that it was actually written for (and against). Over the years, I have become fully instructed about the systematic blockages—which are inseparably linguistic, psychological, and social—which prevent intellectuals from outside the centre from conversing (and doing battle) with the dominant as equal partners. Hence I am grateful that, after a decade or so, the book has finally made its appearance beyond the flat-lands and the dykes. Meanwhile, it has been thoroughly revised, to such an extent as to become effectively new. That it has taken this improved shape is also due to the encouragement of a few people who backed me at crucial points in time. I have long cherished Lolle Nauta’s friendship. Steven Lukes, Steve Fuller, Bill Lynch, Nico Stehr, and especially Stephen Turner have given vital support. the insightful criticism of Rokus Hofstede, Baukje Prins, and

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