Explores the relevance of Bakhtin's thought to social theory.
Greg M. Nielsen brings Mikhail Bakhtin's ethics and aesthetics into a dialogue with social theory that responds to the sense of ambivalence and uncertainty at the core of modern societies. Nielsen situates a social theory between Bakhtin's norms of answerability and Jürgen Habermas's sociology, ethics, and discourse theory of democracy in a way that emphasizes the creative dimension in social action without reducing explanation to the emotional and volitional impulse of the individual or collective actor. Some of the classical sources that support this mediated position are traced to Alexander Vvedenskij's and Georg Simmel's critiques of Kant's ethics, Hermann Cohen's philosophy of fellowship, and Max Weber's and George Herbert Mead's theories of action. In the shift from Bakhtin's theory of interpersonal relations to a dialogic theory of societal events that defends the bold claim that law and politics should not be completely separated from the specificity of ethical and cultural communities, a study of citizenship and national identity is developed.
Greg M. Nielsen is Associate Professor of Sociology at Concordia University and Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Programme in Social and Political Thought at York University. He is also the author of Le Canada de Radio-Canada: Sociologie Critique et Dialogisme Culturel.
"Bakhtin is a hot topic, and the Bakhtin scholarship behind this book is first rate. This book also makes an original contribution to discussions on post-national democracy." — Brian C. J. Singer, author of Society, Theory, and the French Revolution: Studies in the Revolutionary Imaginary
"I think the author's use of Bakhtin's dialogism in order to provide a basis for negotiating between the extremes of ethnos and demos is an original and intellectually important contribution to social-political philosophy in an age that recognizes diversity as a major resource and problem for society." — Fred Evans, author of Psychology and Nihilism: A Genealogical Critique of the Computational Model of Mind