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Social Theory

Conflict, Cohesion and Consent

Jonathan Joseph

Hardback i (Printed to Order)

This textbook introduction to Social Theory is unique in addressing key issues in sociological, political and cultural analysis through an examination of modern theories of social conflict, cohesion and consent. Chapters are structured to cover the major thinkers - Marx and Engels, Gramsci, Durkheim, Parsons, Weber, the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse and Habermas) and Foucault - and offer a useful and accessible introduction to the main ideas of these important and widely studied theorists.

Through the unifying theme of conflict, cohesion and consent the reader is introduced to core social concepts such as structure and agency, ideology, discourse and legitimation, and to key features of modern society such as the state, economy and civil society. Dealing with both contemporary social debates and established theoretical approaches, this book is ideal for both Politics and Sociology students.

Key Features

  • Author writes with great clarity, making the text accessible to undergraduates
  • Unique in addressing key issues in sociology, politics and cultural studies through examination of modern social theories of conflict, cohesion and consent
  • Chapters organised around the core thinkers: Marx, Engels, Gramsci, Durkheim, Weber, the Frankfurt School, and Foucault
  • Introduces students to key social concepts of structure, agency, discourse, legitimation, power, communication, functionalism and hegemony


1: Introduction
2: Marx and Engels
(i) Social classes and the role of class struggle in history
(ii) Economic analysis of capitalist society
(iii) The state
(iv) The concept of ideology
(v) Social conflict and social change
3. Antonio Gramsci and the concept of hegemony
The critique of Marxism and the model of economic base and political-cultural
Machiavelli and the Modern Prince - strategies for leading and directing
Hegemony: Coercion and consent
Hegemony: Historical bloc and passive revolution
Hegemonic strategy: Wars of position and manoeuvre
The role of the intellectual, consent through organic ideas
Recent applications: Economic and cultural theory
Max Weber and rationalisation
Charismatic leadership, traditional leadership and domination
The state as a monopoly of violence. Civil society and the determination of
social status
Legal-rational society, the modern state and its legitimacy
Elitism and the rise of bureaucracy (also introduces elitist theorists)
Modernity and the 'iron cage'
The Frankfurt School
Influences: A synthesis of Weber and Marx
Adorno and Horkheimer: Enlightenment thinking
Adorno and Horkheimer: The role of the culture industry
Marcuse: One-dimensional society
Jürgen Habermas: Public sphere and legitimation crisis
Habermas: System, lifeworld and communication
Michel Foucault
Discourse: Madness and civilisation
Practice: Discipline and punishment
Power and knowledge
Foucault and feminism
Foucault and postmodernism

About the Author

Jonathan Joseph is Professor in the Politics department at Sheffield University. He is Author of Social Theory: Conflict, Cohesion and Consent (EUP, 2003), Hegemony: A Realist Analysis (Routledge, 2002) and co-editor of Realism, Discourse and Deconstruction (Routledge, 2002).