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A Sociological History


  • Date Published: September 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521189286
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About the Authors
  • Concern with authority is as old as human history itself. Eve's sin was to challenge the authority of God by disobeying his rule. Frank Furedi explores how authority was contested in ancient Greece and given a powerful meaning in Imperial Rome. Debates about religious and secular authority dominated Europe through the Middle Ages and the Reformation. The modern world attempted to develop new foundations for authority – democratic consent, public opinion, science – yet Furedi shows that this problem has remained unresolved, arguing that today the authority of authority is questioned. This historical sociology of authority seeks to explain how the contemporary problems of mistrust and the loss of legitimacy of many institutions are informed by the previous attempts to solve the problem of authority. It argues that the key pioneers of the social sciences (Marx, Durkheim, Simmel, Tonnies and especially Weber) regarded this question as one of the principal challenges facing society.

    • The first sociological history of authority, providing social scientists with a historical context to the concept
    • Shows how the ideas of sociological theory have emerged from debates surrounding authority
    • Links debates about authority to contemporary concerns with trust and political legitimacy
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A convincing and very knowledgeable study of the notion of authority throughout the history of western social and political thought. Spanning almost thirty centuries of western thought, it is profound, well-argued and an impressive tribute to the wealth of sociological and philosophical scholarship.' Mark Bovens, Utrecht University School of Governance

    Customer reviews

    28th Jul 2015 by Moralupbringing

    Mr. Furedi has done an outstanding job of explaining why the concept and the development of authority has been a thorn in the side of rulers across centuries. The explanation provided in the chapter on Socrates and his quest for authority presents the most comprehensive understanding of why Socrates is considered a master of human norms. Mr. Furedis astute learning along with literary prose makes this book a must have for all libraries, politicians, and all who consider mankind to be a gift to the world, never a scourge.

    Review was not posted due to profanity


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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521189286
    • length: 453 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: always in question
    1. Thersites and the personification of anti-authority
    2. Socrates and the quest for authority
    3. Rome and the founding of authority
    4. Augustus – a role model for authority through the ages
    5. Medieval authority and the investiture contest
    6. Medieval claim-making and the sociology of tradition
    7. Reformation and the emergence of the problem of order
    8. Hobbes and the problem of order
    9. The rationalisation of authority
    10. The limits of the authority of the rational
    11. Taming public opinion and the quest for authority
    12. Nineteenth-century authority on the defensive
    13. Authority transformed into sociology's cause
    14. The rise of negative theories of authority
    15. By-passing authority through the rationalisation of persuasion
    16. In the shadow of authoritarianism
    Conclusion: final thoughts.

  • Author

    Frank Furedi, University of Kent, Canterbury
    Frank Furedi is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, and Visiting Professor in the Institute of Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London. Dr Furedi has published widely on controversies relating to issues such as health, parenting children, food and new technology, and his books and articles provide an authoritative yet lively account of key developments in contemporary cultural life that have been widely debated in the media.

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