Agent-based Modelling and Simulation

The Foundations of the Social
Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology
By Simon Susen

December 2007, hardback, 360 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-1-905622-12-2


In this lucid and novel examination of the concept of the social in contemporary critical thought, Simon Susen argues that we can only identify solid grounds for social critique by identifying the grounds of the social itself. The book draws upon the work of Jürgen Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu, and offers a model for the reconstruction of Habermasian critical theory and Bourdieusian reflexive sociology. These two theoretical approaches have been dominant influences in contemporary social theory. Susen explores how both conceptualise the social, and identifies the shortcomings of the Habermasian 'communicative approach' and the Bourdieusian 'homological approach'. He offers a method for overcoming their most significant shortcomings in terms of an alternative, five-dimensional approach to the nature of the social.

Simon Susen's critical discussion of Bourdieu and Habermas is one of the most impressive I have ever read, and his project of bringing them together is exceptionally timely and worthwhile. This book is a major contribution to the literature. - William Outhwaite, Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University

A stunning tour de force in the synthesis of social theory. - Peter Hamilton, The Open University

In this lucid and provocative text, Simon Susen convincingly challenges the common view that Pierre Bourdieu and Jürgen Habermas are involved in antithetical and irreconcilable enterprises. Susen not only shows the striking commonality between the two intellectual projects; his innovative reading of both authors leads to a bold and exciting agenda for social theory. I recommend this book highly for anyone with an interest in critically engaged theorising of the social world - Patrick Baert, Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge

Reviews of The Foundations of the Social:

Sahni, Isher-Paul (2008) 'Book Review of Simon Susen (2007) The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology. Oxford: The Bardwell Press', Canadian Journal of Sociology – Cahiers canadiens de sociologie 33(3): 712-714.
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Robbins, Derek (2010) 'Review Essay: The foundations of social theoretical discourse: Simon Susen, The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology. Oxford: Bardwell Press, 2007', Journal of Classical Sociology 10(1): 87-94.
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Celikates, Robin (2012) 'Book Review of The Foundations of the Social: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology. Oxford: Bardwell Press, 2007', International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20(5): 782-787.
View online

About the Author:

Simon Susen is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and studied sociology, politics, and philosophy at various universities and research centres around the world, including the University of Edinburgh, the Colegio de México, the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales in Mexico City, and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Along with John O'Neill and Bryan S. Turner, he is Editor of the Journal of Classical Sociology.


Foreword - A Critical Defence of the Social by Bryan S. Turner

Part I: The Reflection of Critical Theory: 'Critique of Society’ or ‘Society of Critique’?

Chapter 1 - The Concept of Critical Theory
Chapter 2 - The Debate over Critical Theory
Chapter 3 - The Paradigm Shift within Critical Theory
Chapter 4 - The Critique of Critical Theory

Part II: The Critique of Reflexive Sociology: ‘Critical Sociology’ or ‘Sociology of Critique’?

Chapter 5 - The Concept of Reflexive Sociology
Chapter 6 - The Debate over Reflexive Sociology
Chapter 7 - The Paradigm Shift of Reflexive Sociology
Chapter 8 - The Reflection upon Reflexive Sociology

Part III: Between Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology: From the Ontological Foundations
of the Social to the Normative Foundations of Critique

Chapter 9 - The Cross-Fertilisation of Critical Theory and Reflexive Sociology
Chapter 10 - The Foundations of the Social


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