Durkheim, Mead and Contemporary Social Theory
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The thesis presented here explores the relevance of the classical works of Emile Durkheim and George Herbert Mead to contemporary postmodern cultural critiques. Postmodern social theory specifically that of Richard Rorty and Jean Baudrillard have come to offer a type of social theory that challenges the notion of the social. This referential problem of the social becomes a striking attack on the epistemology of sociology, which purports to offer scientific knowledge about the human condition as a social process. The theoretical works of Durkheim and Mead especially their respective concepts of the "collective consciousness" and the "generalized other" are offered here as closely related articulations of the core sociological concept of "the social." It is argued that postmodernism, by postulating an excessively precarious social theory, falls short as a theory of society when juxtaposed to the classic sociologies of Durkheim and Mead. However, it is also noted that the transformation of the field of sociology from a primarily textual discourse to a quantitative enterprise increasingly exposes the field of sociology to uniquely postmodern critiques.
Barreto-Beck, Carlos G. (2012). Durkheim, Mead and Contemporary Social Theory. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from