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Introduction: A New Agenda for Social Theory?

Bryan S. Turner

Subject Sociology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405169004.2009.00001.x


Social theory provides the necessary analytical and philosophical framework within which the social sciences can develop. Social theory both sustains the achievements of the past, notes the needs and limitations of the present, and points the way to future research issues and questions. Any attempt to offer a generic definition of social theory is confronted immediately by the important differences between various sociological traditions. In considering social theory within a broad international framework, we need to recognize that sociology is inevitably colored by different local, national, or civilizational circumstances. Polish sociology is obviously very different from American sociology. The growth of nationalism and the nation-state had a profound effect on the early development of social theory in Europe in the nineteenth century, and World War I brought to a tragic conclusion the enormous developments in sociology in both Germany and France. In the late twentieth century, social theory has also been responding to the specific national or regional manifestations of information technology and cultural consumption in new theories of globalization. In developing this New Companion , I have therefore been conscious of the fact that there has been an important cultural and intellectual gap between American and European social theory. While Europeans tend to look towards Émile ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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