The studies which comprise this book are essentially organized around a critical encounter with European social theory in its 'classical period' – i.e. from the middle years of the nineteenth century until the First World War – and have the aim of working out some of the implications of that encounter for the position and prospects of the social sciences today. The issues involved relate to the following series of problems: method and epistemology; social development and transformation; the origins of 'sociology' in nineteenth-century social theory; and the status of social science as critique. In each of these areas, Giddens develops views that challenge existing orthodoxies, and connects these ideas to a reconstruction of social theory in the contemporary era.

chapter 1|67 pages

Positivism and its critics

chapter 2|39 pages

Functionalism: après la lutte

chapter 3|30 pages

Habermas's critique of hermeneutics

chapter 7|38 pages

Durkheim's political sociology

chapter 9|36 pages

A theory of suicide

chapter 10|18 pages

'Power' in the writings of Talcott Parsons