Over the last three decades, social theory has become an increasingly important subdiscipline within sociology. Social theory has attempted to elucidate the philosophical basis of sociology by defining the nature of social reality. According to social theory, society consists of objective institutions, structure, on the one hand, and individuals, agency on the other, it promotes human social relations, insisting that in every instance social reality consists of these relations. The book begins by defining and criticising contemporary social theory. It analyses the work of Giddens, Bourdieu, Foucault, Bhaskar and Habermas to demonstrate that their commitment to structure and agency is unsustainable. The book then proceeds to recover a sociology which focuses on social relations by reference to the works of classical sociology; to Hegel, marx, Weber and Durkheim. Finally, the book establishes a new 'hermeneutic' paradigm in which social relations are primary. The author argues that sociologists studying the dramatic socila transformations which are currently occuring should focus on social relations between humans; they should not attempt to understand contemporary changes in terms o
Anthony King is Professor in Sociology at Exeter University.