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Recovering the Self seeks to place questions of morality and justice at the heart of social theory. By exploring the works of Marx, Durkheim and Weber it shows the hidden complexities of a modernity too often identified with a unified vision of the rational self. He discusses how this can fall into fragments within postmodernity. Reinstating the body and emotional life, Seidler sets new terms for respect and equality he shows ways the self is undermined in its sense of self-worth and adequacy through the workings of relationships of power and subordination. Seidler draws upon feminism and Critical Theory to question the allegedly straightforward opposition between essentialism' and social constructionism'. He places the issues of morality right into the centre of the self problem'. Through reinstating connections between the self and the historical adventures of socialism, feminism, masculinity, ethnicity, and - autobiographically - Jewish identity, he shows the intimate affinity between these different categories of experience. Identities are not freely chosen' but involve a coming to terms with histories of class, race and gender.
Critical of postmodern theories in which anything goes and in which everything you see is relative, Recovering the Self is concerned with the reassertion of value and recovering a viable tradition in which we can again explore issues of freedom and social justice. It seeks to re-establish the suspended conversation between social theory and the concerns of everyday life.