Alienation, Ethnicity, and Postmodernism

Alienation, Ethnicity, and Postmodernism

Alienation, Ethnicity, and Postmodernism

Alienation, Ethnicity, and Postmodernism


The essays in this volume offer the reader a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on the ways in which theories of alienation are influencing current debates in psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and social philosophy. In his introductory essay, Felix Geyer discusses how classical notions of alienation have been put to use to describe the dysfunctions within societies that are becoming sharply divided along racial lines and according to the disparities in power described by postmodernism. The essays that follow Geyer's introduction then take up the problems of alienation, ethnicity, and postmodernism in the contexts of increasing economic globalization and renewed racial hostility in communities both in the United States and abroad.


This volume derives from the activities of the Research Committee on Alienation Theory and Research of the International Sociological Association. It was founded in 1972, and by the mid-1970s had developed into the main international forum where an increasingly interdisciplinary group of alienation researchers, embracing different theoretical and methodological perspectives, regularly met to exchange and evaluate research results and discuss priorities for further research.

Since its foundation, the Research Committee has been actively organizing meetings to facilitate this goal, especially at the quadrennial World Congresses of Sociology. Between World Congresses, several smaller international meetings were organized, while communication between the members is furthermore facilitated by the publication of a regular, now largely electronic Newsletter. The most important results of these meetings, presenting the most recent developments in alienation theory and research, were published in five volumes, appearing between 1976 and 1992.

The present volume is the sixth in this ongoing series. It illustrates the recent and fertile convergence of alienation research with studies on ethnicity and postmodernism, more fully elaborated in the introductory chapter. As usual, the contributors form an international and interdisciplinary group, as will be evident from the following overview.

First of all, thanks are due here to the contributors. They have been extremely patient, and first produced revised versions of their original contributions on the basis of my editorial suggestions. These were not only directed at the contents of the contributions themselves, but were also aimed at increasing the coherence of the volume as a whole, by suggesting several cross- references between the different chapters. Only at a later stage, it became obvious . . .

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