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Durkheim's Ghosts

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Table of Contents

Foreword; Preface; Part I. Cultural Logics: 1. Frantz Fanon and the living ghosts of capitalism's world system. Durkheim's Ghosts in the culture of sociologies; 2. Levi-Strauss and the sad tropics of modern cultures. What is culture? Amid the flowers, seeds or weeds?; 3. Paris 1907 and why the sociological imagination is always unstable. Sociological theory and the relativistic paradigm; 4. Ferdinand de Saussure and why the social contract is a cultural arbitrary. Literary politics and the Champ of French sociology; Part II. Durkheim's Ghosts: 5. Marcel Mauss and Durkheim and why the ghosts of social differences are ubiquitous. Durkheim's woman and the Jew as the pluperfect past of the good society; 6. Jacques Derrida and why global structures had to die when they did. The uses of French structuralisms in sociology; 7. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and why structures haunt instruments and measures. Structures, instruments, and reading in social and cultural research (with Willard A. Nielsen, Jr.); 8. Roland Barthes and the phantasmagorias of social things. Language, structure and measurement; Part III. Culture as the Ghost of Primitive Transgressions: 9. Michel Foucault and why analytic categories are queer. Pierre Bourdieu's aesthetic critique of sociological judgment; 10. Simone de Beauvoir and why culture is a semiotics of the other: Michel Foucault, social theory, and transgression (with Garth Gillan); 11. Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein and why globalization is a social geography of inequalities. The impossible system of future worlds. Postscript: what culture is not.

About the Author

Charles Lemert is Andrus Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He is a leading sociologist and his many books include Muhammad Ali: Trickster in the Culture of Irony, French Sociology: Rupture and Renewal since 1968, Michel Foucault: Social Theory and Transgression, and Social Things: An Introduction to the Sociological Life. His book Social Theory is a best-selling text in the field.


'Charles Lemert's deft disentanglement of Durkheim's legacy in social theory crowns a career devoted to exploring the cultural logics of social things. Durkheim's Ghosts is a brilliant and beautiful book, a passionate reflection on the powers and limits of French social theory's contributions to the understanding of culture". Anthony Elliott,Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent and author of Critical Visions: New Directions in Social Theory (2003). 'The bodies of classical theory that outlive the conditions and times that produce them haunt us as scholarly ghosts. These hauntings can be either positive or negative, depending on how we handle them. Charles Lemert brilliantly explores the legacy of both the classical ghosts - Marx, Freud, Durkheim and Mauss - and a range of more proximate giants - Fanon, Foucault, Derrida and others - to provide a critical insight into French social theory. Durkheim's Ghosts is amongst other things a fascinating intellectual journey through twentieth century structuralism and its aftermath. The result is an analytical map of the tensions between the social and the cultural that have shaped the terrain of contemporary social thought. This is a journey not to be missed. Bryan S. Turner, Asia Research Institute, Singapore

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