The impasse of European critical sociology: attempts at a materialist renewal

Bruno Frère*, Emmanuelle Tulle, Charitini Karakostaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Downloads (Pure)


Many significant intellectual developments (Frankfurt School, Bourdieu) continue to assume that workers, social actors, etc. unconsciously reproduce the social structures of capitalism whilst being alienated by them. They are therefore unable to contribute to their emancipation. We argue that in order to consider new forms of social resistance to domination, we need an alternative approach. We argue that Boltanski’s pragmatic sociology, most notably his conception of institutions, and Latour’s own pragmatic standpoint may offer an interesting solution to the question of resistance. However, as productive as they might sound, these two contributions to critical social theory remain also problematic. Boltanski continues to imagine emancipation primarily as a return to some ideal state, while Latour seems to abandon the question of domination. In this paper we will outline our own position as a materialist critique of the established order. This will lead us to ponder towards the political role of sociologists.
Original languageEnglish
JournalE-Legal: Revue de Droit et de Criminologie de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • materialism
  • utopia
  • social theory
  • Frankfurt School
  • Pierre Bourdieu


Dive into the research topics of 'The impasse of European critical sociology: attempts at a materialist renewal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this