The Politics of Theory and the Constitution of Meaning

Sociological Theory 31 (1):1-23 (2013)


How should sociologists use the word theory? Gabriel Abend’s recent insistence that this question should be tackled politically raises two important issues: Is sociology political? And if so, what normative implications follow for its organization? Drawing on Wittgenstein’s notion of family resemblance and post-Gramscian theories of hegemony, I argue that Abend’s proposal that semantic questions about theory can be addressed separately from ontological, evaluative, and teleological ones is untenable. Disagreements about the latter are constitutive, not merely supplementary to the meaning of theory. Against Abend’s deliberative-democratically oriented vision, I propose an agonistic politics of theory. In doing so, I consider both the internal inconsistencies of deliberativism and the practical advantages and sociological relevance of agonism

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References found in this work

Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.David Bohm - 1964 - Philosophical Quarterly 14 (57):377-379.

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