Looking Back on the Subject: Mead and Bakhtin on Reflexivity and the Political
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The idea for this chapter comes out of a larger work that seeks to introduce Mikhail Bakhtin into a dialogue with classical and contemporary sociological theory. It is also stimulated by invitations from three recent books to participate in the renewal of general sociological theory — Jeffery Alexander’s collection of essays Neofunctionalism and After (1998); Hans Joas’s The Creativity of Action (1996) and Donald Levine’s, Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995). Recent generations of theorists continue to articulate the classical dilemma of the separation of micro levels of understanding and macro levels of explanation. Though each author referred to here adopts a different approach to this, each shares a common commitment to addressing it through diverse strategies of convergence and critical synthesis. Alexander reconstructs Parsons contribution and reviews a host of different schools and traditions that have lead to a neofunctionalist revival. He warns that the risk of the current trend in synthesising macro and micro theories is that levels of generality get muddled and that this leads to a widening of the gap between theoretical propositions and empirical applications. While covering some of the same ground from a quite different tact, Hans Joas, reviews the long history of utilitarian and normative theory.
KeywordsPolitical Theory Problem Motif Outer Body Sociological Tradition Philosophical Orientation
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