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mythical deities to which such powers were attributed.

In The Essence of Christianity (1843), Feuerbach

claimed that God is the manifestation of human

inner nature; religion is the “solemn unveiling” of

human hidden treasures, the avowal of innermost

thoughts, the open confession of the secrets of

human love. But this image of perfection becomes

the source of rules that are reimposed on people’s

lives as regulations and self-denial.

Both the Hegelian and Feuerbachian use of

alienation were important for Marx. He accepted

much of Feuerbach’s critique, but took issue with

the notion of a human essence projected onto

God. Human self-alienation is not psychological,

but social and historical, and specifically arises

from the system of production. Marx’s use of the

concept was critical and in some ways ironic, in

that he was taking a term that was widely used by

Hegelian philosophers and subjecting it to parody

(a point generally missed in debates about

whether the concept continues to inform Marx’s

later works). Marx insisted that it was human

labor that created culture and history but that

Hegel had substituted a mystical substance –

Mind – for the real subject of history. For Marx it

was practice rather than thought that changes the

material world and practice is a process of objectification,

whereby the products of labor are manifest

in material forms. This process is part of

human “species being,” that is, a potential creativity

essential to being human. This enables people

to affirm themselves by objectifying their individuality

in objects and enabling others to enjoy

the products of their labor. It is thus a social and

affirmative process. However, in conditions of commodity

production, this becomes distorted – no

longer a free affirmation of life but, on the contrary,

an alienation of life, since workers must

work in order to live. What could be the basis

of creative human self-expression is reduced in

bourgeois society to the most profound form of

alienation in wage labor. Wage-workers sell their

labor (in Capital this is refined to labor power, the

capacity to work for a determinate period) to satisfy

basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing,

while capitalists own the labor process and dispose

of the products of labor for profit.

In The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,

Marx discussed four types of alienation. The first

was alienation from the product, where the means

of production are owned by capitalists who appropriate

and exchange the products of labor. These

then take on a life of their own, separate from the

needs and wishes of the producers; thus, workers

“build palaces but live in hovels.” Second was

alienation from productive activity, where work

becomes external to the lives of workers, who “feel

freely active” only when eating, drinking, and

procreating – activities that humans share with

animals. Third was alienation from “speciesbeing”,

such that creativity, an essentially human

capacity for objectifying ourselves through work,

is degraded in systems of production that are exploitative

and where work becomes drudgery.

Finally, there was alienation of “man from man”

where community is dislocated, all social relations

are dominated by economics, and hostile classes

are formed. The fundamental injustice of capitalism

is that it targets for exploitation precisely what

differentiates humans from other animals, namely

our capacity for productive creativity, which will

be fulfilled in a future, emancipated society.

In later works the concept of alienation appears

less often, although similar ideas are found in

Marx’s theory of commodity fetishism. The domination

of commodities in our society is so pervasive

that it seems to be an inevitable, natural state

of affairs. All our achievements, everything we

produce, appear as commodities. Capitalism is

the first system of generalized commodity production,

in which the commodity has become a universal

category of society as a whole. Yet the

commodity is “mysterious” in that value and price

appear to be properties arising from the process of

circulation on the market (as relationships between

things rather than people). Commodities

acquire social characteristics because individuals

enter the productive process only as the owners of

commodities. It appears as if the market itself

causes the rise and fall of prices, and pushes

workers into one branch of production or out of

another, independent of human agency. The

impact of society on the individual is mediated

through the social form of things. However, Marxist

analysis attempts to show that these apparent

relations between things are really social relations

of production in which value is created through

the exploitation of wage laborers.

alienation alienation


Marx’s theory seems to assume a relatively timeless

“human nature,” although this was a concept

he elsewhere rejected. He did, however, assume

that people would be most fulfilled when engaging

freely in creative labor, famously depicting

in The German Ideology (1845) non-alienated existence

in a future communist society as one “where

nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but

each can become accomplished in any branch

he wishes, . . . to hunt in the morning, fish in the

afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise

after dinner, . . . without ever becoming hunter,

fisherman, herdsman or critic.” But this does raise

the question of whether alienation can be eliminated

in modern societies characterized by complex

divisions of labor and inequalities. In later

works, Marx was more circumspect, suggesting

that the co-ordination and division of labor probably

cannot be eliminated. Similarly, there is the

question of the extent to which social processes

in complex societies can be self-transparent or

whether opacity is inevitable. With the decline

of interest in Marxist theory since the collapse

of Soviet Communism, interest in the concept of

alienation has waned too. LARRY RAY

Althusser, Louis (1918–1990)

Althusser was one of the best-known Communist

Party theoreticians of the twentieth century, who

latterly became associated with Eurocommunism.

Three influential works were For Marx (1965 [trans.

1969]), Lenin and Philosophy (1965), and Reading Capital

(1967 [trans. 1970]). Key concepts associated with

his philosophy are “the problematic” (texts were

understood as effects of an underlying matrix of

concepts that could be revealed through “symptomatic

reading”), “epistemological break” (between humanism

and science), “overdetermination” of a

“conjuncture” in which revolutionary change

might occur, and interpellation. He attempted to

reconcile Marxism with structuralism, an intellectual

fashion with which Althusser and his student

Michel Foucault were associated. This theory

stressed the persistence of “deep structures” that

underlie all human cultures, leaving little roomfor

either historical change or human initiative.

Althusser rejected the positive content of empirical

knowledge entirely. Althusser asserted that Essence

is not to be found in Appearance, but must be

discovered through “theoretical practice,” in which

objects appear not as real-concrete objects but as

abstract-conceptual objects. Althusser further rejected

the concept of contradiction in Karl Marx and

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, which he saw in

structuralist terms as “over-determination” – where

outcomes have multiple simultaneous causes that

together create a “conjuncture”, the resolution of

which is unpredictable. This is part of a wider rejection

of much of Marx’s work, which had to be read

critically and rigorously to separate the “humanism”

from scientific theorization of capitalist society.

“Humanism”in this context referred to belief in

the self-realization of the human species through

creative agency.

In 1980 Althusser murdered his wife and was

confined to a psychiatric unit until his death.


ancient society

This term has a broader and a more restrictive

denotation, the two of which are analytically distinct,

though deployed so much together and so

much in the same context that they are often

confused. The former is almost as old as Christian

reflection on the Old Testament, but it has its first

official social scientific usage as the nineteenthcentury

register of an anthropological and evolutionist

distinction between human society from

its primitive beginnings forward to the advent of

industrialism and human society as it had come

to be in the aftermath of industrialization. In just

such a usage, it can serve as the title of the compendious

treatment (Ancient Society, 1877) by Henry

Lewis Morgan (1818–81) of material cultural evolution

from the foraging band to the alphabetically

literate city-states of pre-Christian Greece and

Rome. The crucial divide that lay for Morgan between

ancient society and its counterpart – the

“modern society” – was the divide between a preindustrial

and an industrial economy. Karl Marx

and Friedrich Engels were the most notable of

classical social theorists explicitly to engage Morgan’s

theorization of the “savage,” “barbaric,” and

“civilized” stages of social evolution, but Spencer,

Weber, and Durkheim could agree that the great

divide between the ancient and the modern was

as Morgan would have it be. The lexical and theoretical

tradition of a distinction between “ancient

preindustrial” and “modern industrial” society

survives today, but, like the distinction between

the “primitive” and the “modern,” is vulnerable

to Johannes Fabian’s critique of the “denial of

coevalness” in Time and The Other (1983).

In its more restrictive usage, the term is a

philological-historical category. Its exemplary

denotata are precisely the city-states of pre-Christian

Greece and Rome. It is the fulcrum of a debate

dating from the Renaissance over the extent to

which the ancient past is culturally continuous

with the modern present (and, if not continuous,

Althusser, Louis (1918–1990) ancient society


the extent to which it is more or less virtuous than

the modern present). Since the later nineteenth

century, social theorists have consistently emphasized

the discontinuities between the two, if to

incompatible critical ends. Champions of progress

such as Spencer, for example, construe the

gap as that between a form of society whose survival

and growth depend essentially on war and a

higher form whose survival and growth can at last

rest in cooperation and the increasingly universal

pursuit of enlightened self-interest. Such occasional

Romantics as Weber, in contrast, might

construe the gap instead as that between a form

of society still capable of sustaining a public

sphere unified in its commitment to a common

store of transcendent values and a depleted form

in which the gods themselves are perpetually at

war and Homo economicus reigns in their stead. The

spirit, if not the letter, of Spencer’s position has

more contemporary representatives in both Ju¨rgen

Habermas and Niklas Luhmann. Echoes of

the Weberian position continued in the twentieth

century in the anti-populist republicanism of such

political theorists as Hannah Arendt.


Annales School

A movement of French historians founded by

Lucien Febvre (1878–1956) and Marc Bloch

(1886–1944) with their journal, Annales: Economies,

Societies, Civilizations, the school reacted to the

prevailing narrative method of history and its concentration

on political and diplomatic events –

whose exemplary exponent was Leopold von Ranke

(1795–1886) – by broadening both the content and

the methodological approach of history. This included:

(1) extending the historian’s purview to

broad areas of human behavior and activity generally

neglected by traditional historians, by drawing

on a variety of other disciplines including sociology,

anthropology, psychology, linguistics, and

geography; (2) the use and development of new

methods of historical investigation, including

qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches

in addition to standard archival resources;

(3) examining the longue dure´e or broad

long-term persistence of structures within history.

The Annales approach was in no way unified

and included a number of divergent standpoints

within the group. According to Peter Burke in The

French Historical Revolution (1990), the school can be

divided into three phases covering three successive

generations of historians. The first generation,

which existed from the 1920s to 1945,

included Bloch and Febvre. Heavily influenced by

mile Durkheim’s sociology, Bloch examined the

prevalence of the medieval belief that the king

could cure scrofula by touching people afflicted

by this skin disease in The Royal Touch (1924). However,

his most influential work is undoubtedly his

two-volume study Feudal Society (1939–40), which

dealt not only with the juridical and political

dynamics of medieval society, but with its whole

worldview and culture. These books showed

Bloch’s concern with characteristic features of

the Annales movement: collective representations,

the history of mentalities, and long-term

problem-based comparative historical analysis. In

contrast to the influence of sociology on Bloch,

Febvre was heavily influenced by the historical

geographical approach of Paul Vidal de la Blanche

(1845–1918), but he also focused on collective

mentalities. In his major work, The Problem of Unbelief

in the Sixteenth Century: The Religion of Rabelais

(1939), he argued for the impossibility of atheism

in the sixteenth century.

The emphasis on geographical factors continued

in the work of the second generation of writers,

whose most prominent representative, and perhaps

the most influential of all the Annales

scholars, was Fernand Braudel (1902–85). In his

doctoral dissertation, later published as The Mediterranean

and the Mediterranean World, in the Age of

Philip II (1949), Braudel pursues a “total history” in

which he examined the geography and economic,

social, and political structures of the Mediterranean

world, as well as outlining its political, diplomatic,

and military history. He stressed the

important effect that geohistorical structural constraints

had on shaping states and economies, as

well as events and individuals.

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (1929– ), whose most

noted work is Montaillou (1975 [trans. 1979]), and

Jacques Le Goff (1924– ), who has written widely

on the Middle Ages, most acutely in Medieval Civilization

400–1500 (1988), were the most prominent

of the third generation of historians who emerged

after 1968.

The writings of the Annales movement provided

an important intellectual resource for many Marxist

historians, as well as having a bearing on the

work of Michel Foucault. Its work continues in

the Fernand Braudel Center at Binghampton,

which was founded in 1976 and whose director is

Immanuel Wallerstein. STEVEN LOYAL


From the Greek a-nomos, meaning without laws,

mores, and traditions, in sociology, the concept

refers to absence of norms and of the constraints

Annales School anomie


these provide. In The Division of Labor in Society (1893

[trans. 1960]) E´mile Durkheim describes how the

division of labor fails to produce solidarity or

social cohesion through an absence of proper

regulation of relations or a type of regulation

not in keeping with the development of the division

of labor. He calls this condition the anomic

division of labor. In Suicide (1897 [trans. 1951]),

anomic suicide results from inappropriately low

levels of social regulation. Economic crises, both

depression and excessive growth, are held to be a

source of anomie. Curiously, the regulation of

marriage has contrasting consequences for men

and women, according to Durkheim: unmarried

men are susceptible to anomic suicide, whereas

the regulation of marriage has the reverse effect

on women (married women are more likely to

commit suicide than unmarried ones). For Durkheim,

anomie is a feature of social structure

not of individual persons. David Riesman in The

Lonely Crowd (1950), on the other hand, regards

anomie as a psychological feature of individuals.

Robert K. Merton, though, distinguishes in Social

Theory and Social Structure (1968) between the

source and the experience of anomie, acknowledging

the psychological impact of anomie but

denying it has a psychological source. Merton advances

Durkheim’s account in two ways: he sees

the conflict of norms and not merely their absence

as a source of anomie, and he recognizes

the creative potential of anomie as well as its

destructive side. JACK BARBALET

antiglobalization movements

– see globalization.

Archer, Margaret (1943– )

Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick

and Co-director of the Centre for Critical

Realism, Archer is best known for her contributions

to sociological theory. She was President of

the International Sociological Association (1986–

90). Her early work was on the development of

educational systems in Social Origins of Educational

Systems (1974). She developed the analysis of

human agency through a study in cultural sociology

in Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in

Social Theory (1988), in which she defends the separate

causal importance of culture and social

structure. Her work is closely associated with a

realist epistemology which she has explored in

Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach

(1995). She has therefore contributed to the analysis

of agency and structure, where she has been

critical of the absence of any causal account of

structure in the work of Anthony Giddens. There

are broadly two versions of the notion of “structure.”

The first, favored by Giddens, treats structure

as generative rules and resources, and

emphasizes the voluntary nature of social action.

The second version defines structure as organized

patterns of social relationships that are causally

efficacious. Archer supports this second interpretation,

which incorporates the idea of the causal

priority of structure over agency, but she defends

the importance of the reflexivity of social actors in

Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation (2003).

She has, with Jonathan Tritter, also brought her

perspective into the debate about rational choice

in Rational Choice Theory (2000). BRYAN S. TURNER

Arendt, Hannah (1906–1975)

Born in Hanover, Germany, Arendt was, from 1967

until her death, a university professor of the

Graduate School at the New School for Social Research

in New York, and editor of Schocken Books

(1946–48). Arendt was one of the leading political

philosophers of her time and a critic of the social

sciences, whose language she found pretentious

and obfuscating. In an important debate with

David Riesman, starting in 1947, she argued that

sociology had failed to explain the unprecedented

rise of totalitarianism. Riesman countered that

Arendt exaggerated the capacities and competencies

of totalitarian leaders and their bureaucracies,

and that no adequate political theory could

be developed without an adequate sociological

theory of society. This debate was seminal in defining

the relationship between the concepts of

the social and the political.

Having completed her thesis on Love and St Augustine

(1929 [trans. 1996]) under the supervision

of Karl Jaspers (1883–1969), she escaped from Germany

to work with Zionist organizations in

France and eventually settled in the United States,

becoming a citizen in 1951. She became famous

initially for her work on The Origins of Totalitarianism

(1951). Although this work is clearly a contribution

to political theory, it has important

implications for sociologists, because she argued

that people in modern society are forced out of a

shared public life into a lonely, isolated, and interior

existence. In their isolation, there are pressures

towards uniformity that undermine their

autonomy, and as a result they are psychologically

exposed to the totalitarian social forces of a mass

society. The clear distinction between private and

public life in the classical world has been confused

in modern times by the emergence of “the social.”

In contemporary society, people are connected

antiglobalization movements Arendt, Hannah (1906–1975)


together, but these common threads are, paradoxically,

their private consumer desires. In a mass

society, the social becomes the basis of mass conformity

and the ethical calling of the political

sinks into mundane petty politics.

Her most influential philosophical work was The

Human Condition (1958) in which she divided

human activities into labor, work, and action.

She argued that human life can only be meaningful

if people can engage effectively in the public

sphere. This view of politics and her critique of the

social were further expanded in On Revolution

(1963), Between Past and Future (1961), and Men in

Dark Times (1970). In her report on the trial of

Adolf Eichmann in 1961 in Eichmann in Jerusalem

(1963), she coined the expression “banality of evil”

to describe the impact of bureaucratic norms on

personal responsibility for the Holocaust. Her

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