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

Bruno Frere*, Emmanuelle Tulle, Violaine Wathelet, Pavlos Papadopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Many significant intellectual developments (Frankfurt School, Bourdieu) continue to be based on the assumption that workers, social actors, etc. unconsciously reproduce the social structures of capitalism whilst being alienated by them. They cannot contribute to their emancipation. To account for new forms of social resistance to domination such as those embodied by the Indignados,
Anonymous, Femen, the practitioners of alternative economy, movements of unemployed people or illegals, we need an alternative approach. Boltanski’s pragmatic sociology, most notably his concept of the world, and Latour’s own pragmatic stance offer some potential solutions. However faced with the persistent tendency found in critical social theory of imagining emancipation primarily as a return
to some ideal state, we will outline our own position as a critique of the established order. This will
lead us to ponder on the political role of sociologists.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages43
JournalE-Legal: Revue de Droit et de Criminologie de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Jun 2019

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Keywords

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

Cite this

Frere, B., Tulle, E., Wathelet, V., & Papadopoulos, P. (Accepted/In press). The impasse of European critical theory: attempts at a materialist renewal. E-Legal: Revue de Droit et de Criminologie de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles.