Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

Synopsis

To those who see Freud solely as a psychologist and a psychotherapist it may be surprising to find him discussed as a major contributor to sociology. In this book, Robert Bocock argues that Freud's work, far from being exclusively concerned with individual personality seen in abstraction from the social and cultural environment, does have important implications for social theory and is not always given the serious sociological study it deserves. Bocock demonstrates Freud's central relevance to sociological discussions about gender, sexuality, the family, religion, ideology and symbolism, political authority, and language, and examines the considerable influence that Freud's theories have had upon sociological schools.

Excerpt

What is the point of examining the work of Sigmund Freud at the beginning of the twenty first century, when he wrote his main texts between the 1890s and the 1930s? Should we not let the founding fathers, such as Freud, rest in peace? For, after all, most biologists do not need to read Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, first published in 1859, in order to understand evolution; nor do physicists read Isaac Newton in order to understand gravity, or Albert Einstein to understand space/time. The theoretical concepts of these scientists are now part of modern natural science; they can be examined independently of their original context of discovery. So if psychoanalysis is a science, as Freud claimed it to be, there should be no real need to study his own writings any more than there is to read Darwin, or Newton, except as part of the history of ideas. If, on the other hand, psychoanalysis is a different type of science to the natural sciences, as is claimed in this book, then there may be a point in examining his work to see how it may be of help in understanding ourselves and our societies.

It might be thought that Freud was primarily a psychologist, not a sociologist, and so the question might arise: Why study Freud in a series of books devoted to sociology? The aim here is to show that there is a major social theory in Freud's work, hence the need for some sociologists to examine his writings to assess this contribution. In addition, it can be plausibly argued that not only is there a Freudian social-cultural

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