Legacy Readings in Classical Theory

Social TheoryLast week, we featured a Q&A with Black Hawk Hancock (DePaul University), covering the challenges of teaching sociological theory and the massive amount of thought that went into preparing his forthcoming reader with Roberta Garner (also DePaul University), Social Theory: Continuity and Confrontation. This week, we’d like to pick up one of the threads from this discussion. Primarily, we want to elaborate on his mention of the “unique architecture” of the reader, and the ways in which it allows for a different way of reading theory.

In Black Hawk’s words, Social Theory: Continuity and Confrontation shows how theoretical paradigms and discussions develop over time. This is built right into the structure of the book through the introduction of “legacy readings” connecting the past to the present. For example, in the “Classical Theory” section of the book, the legacy of Marx and Engels is represented by Stanley Aronowitz and William DiFazio’s The Jobless Future and David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Similarly, the legacy of Weber is represented by George Ritzer’s The McDonaldization of Society and Theda Skocpol’s “The Narrowing of Civic Life.” Each classical theorist is paired with more contemporary theorists in order to help students understand the development of classical theory into the present, and in many cases the relevance of theory to their own lives in the twenty-first century.

If you had to represent the legacy of Marx and Engels in one or two key readings, which ones would you choose?

For a full list of the “legacy readings” that were selected for inclusion in this reader, you can download the most recent table of contents.

To find out more about the new reader, click here.

For some insight into the kind of introduction to each “legacy reading” that is provided by the editors, you can download the introduction to David Harvey’s “Why the Neoliberal Turn?” from A Brief History of Neoliberalism.


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