Social Theory
Its Situation and Its Task
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256 pages / November 2004 / 9781844675159

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July 2020 / 9781789609806
Volume 2 of Politics, a work in constructive social theory.

Social Theory: Its Situation and Its Task is an introduction both to Unger's ideas and to the major debates of contemporary social, political and economic thought. Unger shows how the failures of social science and the criticism of such ambitious, deterministic theories as Marxism offer materials for an alternative practice of social understanding. This alternative severs, once and for all, the link between the explanation of social arrangements and the vindication of their necessity.

Unger argues that the disappointment of so many liberal and socialist hopes coexists with unforeseen opportunities to advance progressive commitments. To seize such opportunities, however, we must rethink many of our basic beliefs about society about what it is and what it can become. Social Theory: Its Situation and Its Task shows that what at first seems a circumstance of intellectual and political paralysis turns out to be rich in unrecognized transformative possibility.


Politics sours into the rarefied stratosphere of social theory, striving to realize the highest aspirations of modernity itself. Mr. Unger is thus best understood in relation to contemporaries who reach for similar heights, such as European thinkers Hans Blumenberg, Jürgen Habermas and Michel Foucault.”

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