Theory, Culture & Society 29(4-5): Topologies of Culture (2012)

4 February 2013, dusan

“In social and cultural theory, topology has been used to articulate changes in structures and spaces of power. In this introduction, we argue that culture itself is becoming topological. In particular, this ‘becoming topological’ can be identified in the significance of a new order of spatio-temporal continuity for forms of economic, political and cultural life today. This ordering emerges, sometimes without explicit coordination, in practices of sorting, naming, numbering, comparing, listing, and calculating. We show that the effect of these practices is both to introduce new continuities into a discontinuous world by establishing equivalences or similitudes, and to make and mark discontinuities through repeated contrasts. In this multiplication of relations, topological change is established as being constant, normal and immanent, rather than being an exceptional form, which is externally produced; that is, forms of economic, political and cultural life are identified and made legible in terms of their capacities for continuous change. Outlining the contributions to this Special Issue, the introduction discusses the meaning of topological culture and provides an analytic framework through which to understand its implications.” (from the Abstract)

With contributions by Celia Lury, Luciana Parisi, and Tiziana Terranova, Peter Sloterdijk, Rob Shields, Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Penelope Harvey, Mike Michael and Marsha Rosengarten, Evelyn Ruppert, Steven D. Brown, Luciana Parisi, Richard Rogers, Xin Wei Sha, Brian Rotman, Scott Lash, Noortje Marres, Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey, Julian Henriques.

Publisher Sage
ISSN 0263-2764
342 pages


PDF (6 MB, updated on 2016-12-12)

Erving Goffman: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956)

4 November 2012, dusan

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is a seminal sociology book by Erving Goffman. It uses the imagery of the theatre in order to study human behavior in social situations and the way we appear to others. Discussions of social techniques are based upon detailed research and observation of social customs in many regions.”

Publisher University of Edinburgh, 1956
162 pages



Axel Honneth: The Critique of Power: Reflective Stages in a Critical Social Theory (1985/1991)

20 October 2012, dusan

Axel Honneth’s Critique of Power is a rich interpretation of the history of critical theory, which clarifies its central problems and emphasizes the “social” factors that should provide that theory with a normative and practical orientation.

Honneth focuses on the dialog between French and German social theory that was beginning at the time of Michel Foucault’s death. It traces the common roots of the work of Foucault and Jürgen Habermas to a basic text of the last generation of critical theorists – Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment – and draws from this connection the outline of a program that might unite and surpass their seemingly irreconcilable methods of critiquing power structures. In doing so, Honneth provides a constructive and nonpolemical framework for comparisons between the two theorists. And he presents a novel interpretation of Foucault’s analysis of social systems.

Honneth traces the internal contradictions in critical theory through an analysis of Horkheimer’s early programmatic writings, the Dialectic of Enlightenment, and Adorno’s later social-theoretical writings. He shows how Habermas and Foucault in their distinctive ways reinserted the social world into critical theory but argues that neither operation has been wholly successful. His cogent analysis redirects critical social theory in ways that can draw on the strengths and avoid the weaknesses of the two approaches.

Originally published in German under the title Kritik der Macht. Reflexionsstufen einer kritischen Gesellschaftstheorie, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1985
Translated by Kenneth Baynes
Publisher MIT Press, 1991
Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought series
ISBN 0262581280, 9780262581288
372 pages

review (Elaine Martin)

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