In this book Jeffrey Alexander develops the view that cultural sociology and “cultural pragmatics” are vital for understanding the structural turbulence and political possibilities of contemporary social life.
Central to his approach is a new model of social performance that combines elements from both the theatrical avant-garde and modern social theory. Alexander uses this model to shed new light on a wide range of social actors, movements and events: from Mao, Martin Luther King and Fanon to the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter; from Marx and Keynes to the Great Recession; from Ayn Rand and Jean-Paul Sartre to Obama’s re-election in 2012. These and other examples show that social life is strikingly dramatic. Producing successful dramas determines the outcome of social movements and provides the keys to political power. Modernity has neither eliminated aura nor suppressed authenticity: on the contrary, they are available to social actors who can perform them in compelling ways.
This volume further consolidates Alexander’s reputation as one of the most original social thinkers of our time. It will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, cultural studies and throughout the social sciences and humanities.