No national tradition of social theory has been more seductive to Anglo-American readers than the French.There has been a long-standing fascination with French ideas and debates. This extraordinarily accomplished book, written by one of Britain's leading commentators on social theory, provides a peerless account of the French tradition.The book: provides a systematic account of French social theory from the aftermath of the French Revolution (St Simon, Bazard and Comte) to the contemporary scene dominated by Kristeva, Deleuze, Bourdieu and Baudrillard; divides French social theory into three logically coherent cycles: 1800-80 (positivist); 1880-1940 (anthropological); 1940-2000 (Marxist); provides a detailed guide to the three phases of postwar French social theory - existential, structural and post-structural; and situates the discussions of individuals and schools in the relevant social and political contexts. The book is a masterpiece of erudition and scholarship but is written throughout in an engaging and informative style. It will be required reading for anyone interested in social theory and sociology.

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