As the first volume in the Politics series, this book was followed by “False Necessity” and “Plasticity into Power” both of which are also available in full in this website. It has been published in a new paperback edition by Verso in 2004 together with “False Necessity” and “Plasticity into Power.”
Ample selections from all three of these books are included in the one-volume anthology of my social theory work, edited and introduced by Zhiyuan Cui, “Politics: the Central Texts” (Verso 1997). To order this anthology go to the “my books” section of this website.
“Social Theory: Its Situation and Its Task” lays the groundwork for the development of a way of thinking about society that can resist the identification of what happened with what must be. The argument of the book addresses this task in a manner that contests the authority of the contemporary social sciences and discounts the distinctions among them. A direct line leads from this book to the introduction to the new edition of “False Necessity,” the major work of the Politics series.
There are four themes in “Social Theory: Its Situation and Its Task” to which I draw the reader’s particular attention: the discussion of the transformative vocation (pp. 26-35), the criticism of both classic social theory and contemporary social science as inadequately radical in recognizing that “it’s all politics” (pp. 80-164), the contrast between two ways of realizing the intellectual program I propose, one embracing and the other eschewing comprehensive theories (pp. 165-169), and the analysis of the assumptions about necessity and contingency on which ny argument rests (pp. 170-199). Rather than antagonizing scientific method, I enlist natural science in the defense of these assumptions.