The distinction between understanding sight as a natural faculty - vision - and understanding it as an historical and social construct - visuality - has had significant impact in the visual arts. Not so in social theory where, notwithstanding the efforts of the classical theorists, the practical scientific necessity of privileging visuality over vision has been lost. The Visual in Social Theory argues that, because of its uncritical use of terms like modernity, post-modernity, globalisation and the Third Way, contemporary social theory has become a participant in rather than a critic of 'promotional culture'. In short, in forgetting its past, social theory has effectively forsaken its future. The Visual in Social Theory aims to restore the self-discipline and critical edge intrinsic to any analytical work on visuality. The book will be essential reading not only for those interested in contemporary debates around vision, but also for a broader readership concerned for the critical relevance of contemporary social theory.
Anthony Woodiwiss is Professor of Sociology at City University and the author of Social Theory after Postmodernism and Postmodernity USA.