By the end of the last century, social theories such as Marxism and Durkheimian Sociology had assumed a critical role in public affairs. These theories offered a unique knowledge of modern society which would fulfill the radical potential of modernity. As we approach the end of this century, these claims are no longer credible and the prospects for radical social theory are uncertain.
"Modernist Radicalism and its Aftermath" explores the ways in which Marx, Durkheim, Althusser and Habermas have all been drawn towards foundationalism, and offers a framework for the analysis of foundationalism in social theory. The articulation of an alternative "post foundational" radicalism is far from simple. Important themes are identified in the work of Simmel, Weber, and Adorno and in some postmodernist theory, but they are at constant risk of regression into metaphysics or nihilism. The book closes with a plea for radicalism which can maintain the accountability of inquiry while facing up to the contingency of value. "Modernist Radicalism and its Aftermath" offers both an interpretation of "classical" social theory and a presentation of contemporary debates on modernity and postmodernism.