SOCIOLOGY AS SOCIAL CRITICISM by T.B. Bottomore

SOCIOLOGY AS SOCIAL CRITICISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of articles written from 1964 to 1971 in which a British sociologist of left-wing sympathies evaluates currently fashionable theories of the ""post industrial"" society including the ""new middle class,"" the ""new working class,"" etc. He finds most of them wanting. Bottomore remarks that there is no evidence that capitalist economies will not again fall prey to grave crisis, but he is concerned about the ""lack of positive vision in present day radical thought."" The book is at its best in criticizing certain conservative sociologists like Seymour Lipset and Talcott Parsons (the latter for a ""detached, diffuse, unexamined and undeclared conservative predisposition""). As Bottomore himself notes, these are well-worn targets but his analysis of them is calmly devastating. George Lukacs' History and Class Consciousness also receives some critical jabs; being stoutly anti-Communist and allergic to ""political creeds"" in general, Bottomore disapproves of Lukacs' party affiliation. He absolves Marx from being ""dogmatic"" or ""authoritarian,"" and points to the magnitude of Marx's ""allowance for the creative work of human reason in the fashioning of social institutions."" The Frankfurt School, on the other hand, is tagged as excessively anti-scientific and impotent. Bottomore lays out a range of questions, of which ""inequality"" and ""overpopulation"" seem to him among the most pressing. With his clear and very readable prose, he is more concerned with clarifying the failings of modern social thought -- conservative, liberal and radical -- than with spelling out the ways of changing society itself.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Pantheon