Order and Agency in Modernity
Talcott Parsons, Erving Goffman, and Harold Garfinkel
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Addresses the relationship between modernity and social theory by looking at the works of Parsons, Goffman, and Garfinkel.
In this unique analysis of three prominent theorists of modern sociology, theory is understood as implicitly, but importantly, reflecting especially modern problems of individual and social life. From the grand-theoretical systems of Talcott Parsons to the unique symbolic interactionism of Erving Goffman and the radically mundane ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkel, a wide variety of noted sociological theories have addressed central issues of sociology against the backdrop of modern society. When this modern backdrop is brought into the foreground of analysis, sociological theories assume new depth and breadth and new historical significance. The author outlines features of the modern experience, drawing upon neglected cultural theorists of modernity, and then shows how these features of modernity are reflected and incorporated in the scholarship of Parsons, Goffman, and Garfinkel. The result is an original and eclectic analysis that illuminates previously overlooked dimensions to modern sociological theory, and suggests new possibilities for meaningful and rewarding comparisons between theoretical traditions.
Kwang-ki Kim is a Teaching Fellow in Sociology and a Research Fellow at The Institute for Social Science, Sung Kyun Kwan University.
"Provides an account of three important sociologists, and offers a useful account of the concept of modernity. The author's proposed reading of Parsons reinstates his importance and shows similarities between him and interpretive sociologists." -- Philip Manning, author of Erving Goffman and Modern Sociology
"The author has offered a provocative treatment of three central figures in modern social theory. His account of Goffman and Garfinkel is very perceptive, illuminating, and powerful, while his account of Parsons is original. There is nothing quite like this in the field." -- Peter T. Manicas, author of A History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences