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Ernest Gellner and Contemporary Social Thought


Mark Haugaard, Siniša Malešević, Alan Macfarlane, Michael Mann, Peter Skalnik, Nicos Mouzelis, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Michael Lessnoff, Kevin Ryan, John A. Hall
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  • Date Published: November 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521709415

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About the Authors
  • Ernest Gellner was a unique scholar whose work covered areas as diverse as social anthropology, analytical philosophy, the sociology of the Islamic world, nationalism, psychoanalysis, East European transformations and kinship structures. Despite this diversity, there is an exceptional degree of unity and coherence in Gellner's work with his distinctly modernist, rationalist and liberal world-view evident in everything he wrote. His central problematic remains constant: understanding how the modern world came into being and to what extent it is unique relative to all other social forms. Ten years after his death, this book brings together leading social theorists to evaluate the significance of Gellner's legacy and to re-examine his central concerns. It corrects many misunderstandings and critically engages with Gellner's legacy to provide a cutting edge contribution to understanding our contemporary post-9/11, global, late modern, social condition.

    • A critical commentary on the work of Ernest Gellner, one of the twentieth century's leading thinkers
    • Re-examines Gellner's central concerns including: 'civil society', coercion, social power, Marxism, ethnicity, globalization, liberty, ideology, nationalism, terrorism and modernity
    • Contributions from leading social theorists in the field
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'These lively critical essays reflect the remarkable range of Ernest Gellner's scholarship. Even when they disagree with his answers, the authors testify to the importance of the Gellnerian questions and the enduring legacy of his approaches.' Chris Hann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

    'This is a very exciting volume, on two chief counts. First, it affords its readers the privilege of having a number of established scholars assist them in their own encounter with the vast and diverse body of work produced by Ernest Gellner. The contributors identify the main themes of that work and describe and evaluate Gellner's own interpretations of those themes, among which are the peculiarities of the West, the significance of nationalism, the nature of social power, the historical careers of Islam and of Marxism. Second, the authors have taken the opportunity to outline and extend their own understanding of these themes, an understanding grounded in each case on original research. In doing so they not only expound Gellner's contributions but criticise them; however, one has the sensation that Gellner himself, were he still alive, would both appreciate those critiques and confront them in his own inimitable manner.' Gianfranco Poggi, Professor of Sociology, University of Trento

    'This is an excellent book. It shows a great appreciation of Ernest Gellner's contribution to social thinking and also offers a critical assessment of this thinking in the context of social and intellectual developments since his death. … Ernest Gellner and Contemporary Social Thought is a valuable addition to the libraries of all serious scholars of contemporary society.' Nations and Nationalism

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521709415
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 162 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: an intellectual rebel with a cause Mark Haugaard and Siniša Malešević
    Part I. Civil Society, Coercion and Liberty:
    1. Ernest Gellner on liberty and modernity Alan Macfarlane
    2. Predation and production in European imperialism Michael Mann
    3. Power, modernity and liberal democracy Mark Haugaard
    4. Gellner versus Marxism: a major concern or a fleeting affair? Peter Skalnik
    Part II. Ideology, Nationalism and Modernity:
    5. Nationalism: restructuring Gellner's theory Nicos Mouzelis
    6. Between the book and the new sword: Gellner, violence and ideology Siniša Malešević
    7. Ernest Gellner and the multicultural mess Thomas Hylland Eriksen
    Part III. Islam, Postmodernism and Gellner's Metaphysic:
    8. Islam, Modernity and Science Michael Lessnoff
    9. Truth, reason and the spectre of contingency Kevin Ryan
    10. Gellner's metaphysic John A. Hall.

  • Editors

    Siniŝa Maleŝević, National University of Ireland, Galway
    Siniša Malešević is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His recent publications include Identity as Ideology: Understanding Ethnicity and Nationalism (2006), The Sociology of Ethnicity (2004), Ideology, Legitimacy and the New State (2002) and Making Sense of Collectivities (co-edited with Mark Haugaard, 2002).

    Mark Haugaard, National University of Ireland, Galway
    Mark Haugaard is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland, Galway and was Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence. His recent publications include Power and Ideology (2006), Power: A Reader (2002), and Making Sense of Collectivities (co-edited with Siniša Malešević, 2002).


    Mark Haugaard, Siniša Malešević, Alan Macfarlane, Michael Mann, Peter Skalnik, Nicos Mouzelis, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Michael Lessnoff, Kevin Ryan, John A. Hall

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