In this provocative book Richard Sennett looks at the ways todayâ€™s global, ever-mutable form of capitalism is affecting our lives. He analyzes how changes in work ethic, in our attitudes toward merit and talent, and in public and private institutions have all contributed to what he terms â€œthe specter of uselessness,â€ and he concludes with suggestions to counter this disturbing new culture.
In this new book, Ulrich Beck develops his now widely used concepts of second modernity, risk society and reflexive sociology into a radical new sociological analysis of the cosmopolitan implications of globalization. Beck draws extensively on empirical and theoretical analyses of such phenomena as migration, war and terror, as well as a range of literary and historical works, to weave a rich discursive web in which analytical, critical and methodological themes intertwine effortlessly. Contrasting a ‘cosmopolitan vision’ or ‘outlook’ sharpened by awareness of the transformative and transgressive impacts of globalization with the ‘national outlook’ neurotically fixated on the familiar reference points of a world of nations-states-borders, sovereignty, exclusive identities-Beck shows how even opponents of globalization and cosmopolitanism are trapped by the logic of reflexive modernization into promoting the very processes they are opposing. A persistent theme running through the book is the attempt to recover an authentically European tradition of cosmopolitan openness to otherness and tolerance of difference. What Europe needs, Beck argues, is the courage to unite forms of life which have grown out of language, skin colour, nationality or religion with awareness that, in a radically insecure world, all are equal and everyone is different.
Reassembling the Social is a fundamental challenge from one of the world’s leading social theorists to how we understand society and the ‘social’. Bruno Latour’s contention is that the word ‘social’, as used by Social Scientists, has become laden with assumptions to the point where it has become misnomer. When the adjective is applied to a phenomenon, it is used to indicate a stablilized state of affairs, a bundle of ties that in due course may be used to account for another phenomenon. But Latour also finds the word used as if it described a type of material, in a comparable way to an adjective such as ‘wooden’ or ‘steely’. Rather than simply indicating what is already assembled together, it is now used in a way that makes assumptions about the nature of what is assembled. It has become a word that designates two distinct things: a process of assembling; and a type of material, distinct from others. Latour shows why ‘the social’ cannot be thought of as a kind of material or domain, and disputes attempts to provide a ‘social explanations’ of other states of affairs. While these attempts have been productive (and probably necessary) in the past, the very success of the social sciences mean that they are largely no longer so. At the present stage it is no longer possible to inspect the precise constituents entering the social domain. Latour returns to the original meaning of ‘the social’ to redefine the notion, and allow it to trace connections again. It will then be possible to resume the traditional goal of the social sciences, but using more refined tools. Drawing on his extensive work examining the ‘assemblages’ of nature, Latour finds it necessary to scrutinize thoroughly the exact content of what is assembled under the umbrella of Society. This approach, a ‘sociology of associations’, has become known as Actor-Network-Theory, and this book is an essential introduction both for those seeking to understand Actor-Network Theory, or the ideas of one of its most influential proponents.
Neoliberalism – the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action – has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. Its spread has depended upon a reconstitution of state powers such that privatization, finance, and market processes are emphasized. State interventions in the economy are minimized, while the obligations of the state to provide for the welfare of its citizens are diminished. David Harvey, author of ‘The New Imperialism’ and ‘The Condition of Postmodernity’, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. While Thatcher and Reagan are often cited as primary authors of this neoliberal turn, Harvey shows how a complex of forces, from Chile to China and from New York City to Mexico City, have also played their part. In addition he explores the continuities and contrasts between neoliberalism of the Clinton sort and the recent turn towards neoconservative imperialism of George W. Bush. Finally, through critical engagement with this history, Harvey constructs a framework not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.
The neo-liberal economic policiesâ€”privatization, free trade, slashed social spendingâ€”that the Chicago School and the economist Milton Friedman have foisted on the world are catastrophic in two senses, argues this vigorous polemic. Because their results are disastrous – depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth, by the author’s accounting – their means must be cataclysmic, dependent on political upheavals and natural disasters as coercive pretexts for free-market reforms the public would normally reject. Journalist Klein (No Logo) chronicles decades of such disasters, including the Chicago School makeovers launched by South American coups; the corrupt sale of Russia’s state economy to oligarchs following the collapse of the Soviet Union; the privatization of New Orleans’s public schools after Katrina; and the seizure of wrecked fishing villages by resort developers after the Asian tsunami. Klein’s economic and political analyses are not always meticulous. Likening free-market shock therapies to electroshock torture, she conflates every misdeed of right-wing dictatorships with their economic programs and paints a too simplistic picture of the Iraq conflict as a struggle over American-imposed neo-liberalism. Still, much of her critique hits home, as she demonstrates how free-market ideologues welcome, and provoke, the collapse of other people’s economies. The result is a powerful populist indictment of economic orthodoxy. Publishers Weekly
We live in the midst of a revolution in communication technologies that affects the way in which people feel, think, and behave. The media have become the space where power strategies are played out. In the current technological context mass communication goes beyond traditional media and includes the Internet and mobile communication. In this wide-ranging and powerful book, Manuel Castells analyses the transformation of the global media industry by this revolution in communication technologies. He argues that a new communication system, mass self-communication, has emerged, and power relationships have been profoundly modified by the emergence of this new communication environment. Created in the commons of the Internet this communication can be locally based, but globally connected. It is built through messaging, social networks sites, and blogging, and is now being used by the millions around the world who have access to the Internet. Drawing on a wide range of social and psychological theories, Castells presents original research on political processes and social movements, including the misinformation of the American public on the Iraq War, the global environmental movement to prevent climate change, the control of information in China and Russia, and Internet-based political campaigns, such as the Obama campaign in the United States. On the basis of these case studies he proposes a new theory of power in the information age based on the management of communication networks Justly celebrated for his analysis of the network society, Castells here builds on that work, offering a well grounded and immensely challenging picture of communication and power in the 21st century. This is a book for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics and character of the modern world.