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From Anthropology to Social Theory
Rethinking the Social Sciences


  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108438384

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About the Authors
  • Presenting a ground-breaking revitalization of contemporary social theory, this book revisits the rise of the modern world to reopen the dialogue between anthropology and sociology. Using concepts developed by a series of 'maverick' anthropologists who were systematically marginalised as their ideas fell outside the standard academic canon, such as Arnold van Gennep, Marcel Mauss, Paul Radin, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl and Gregory Bateson, the authors argue that such concepts are necessary for understanding better the rise and dynamics of the modern world, including the development of the social sciences, in particular sociology and anthropology. Concepts discussed include liminality, imitation, schismogenesis and trickster, which provide an anthropological 'toolkit' for readers to develop innovative understandings of the underlying power mechanisms of globalized modernity. Aimed at graduate students and researchers, the book is clearly structured. Part I introduces the 'maverick' anthropologists, while Part II applies the maverick tool-kit to revisit the history of sociological thought and the question of modernity.

    • Provides an anthropological 'toolkit' that enables innovative understanding of the underlying power mechanisms of globalized modernity
    • Readers dissatisfied with the canonised version of social theory will find new inspiration for research
    • Uses anthropological concepts never before discussed together
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book examines thinkers whose work has been fossilised, forgotten or rendered insignificant by subsequent misreadings and provides us with histories of those misreadings and elisions while saliently indicating the profound theoretical capital for social analysis that has been squandered by those practices.' Glenn Bowman, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Historical Anthropology, University of Kent

    'With their call for the removal of subject-based ownership of techniques, Arpad Szakolczai and Bjørn Thomassen offer a convincing and increasingly urgent argument that the social sciences are in need of radical rejuvenation. This is not in order to 'retain relevance' (or some similarly anodyne phrase) but to allow social scientists to do what they should do best and help address dynamic real-world issues.' Simon Underdown, Times Higher Education

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108438384
    • length: 294 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: rethinking social theory with anthropology
    Part I. Maverick Anthropologists:
    1. Arnold van Gennep: liminal rites and the rhythms of life
    2. Gabriel Tarde and René Girard: imitation and the foundations of social life
    3. Marcel Mauss: from sacrifice to gift-giving or revisiting foundations
    4. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl and Colin Turnbull: participation, experience, and home
    5. Paul Radin: the trickster
    6. Gregory Bateson and Johan Huizinga: Schismogenesis and play
    7. Victor Turner: liminal experiences as the grounding of social theory
    Part II. Rethinking Modernity and Its Sociology:
    8. A reflexive political anthropology of sociology
    9. A reflexive political anthropology of modernity.

  • Authors

    Arpad Szakolczai, University College Cork
    Arpad Szakolczai is Professor of Sociology at University College Cork. His recent books include Comedy and the Public Sphere (2013), Permanent Liminality and Modernity (2017), and Walking into the Void: A Historical Sociology and Political Anthropology of Walking (with Agnes Horvath, 2018).

    Bjørn Thomassen, Roskilde Universitet, Denmark
    Bjørn Thomassen is Professor at the Department of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde Universitet, Denmark. His book Liminality and the Modern: Living Through the In-Between (2014) paved the way for novel understandings and applications of the liminality concept.

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