Summary Of Steven Seidman's Contested Knowledge

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Steven Seidman’s Contested Knowledge (fifth edition) is a concise 365-page sociological theory textbook encompassing classical and contemporary sociology. It begins on a personal and autobiographical note in the preface with Seidman describing his emergence from the late sixties as an optimistic and bright-eyed undergraduate. He then expresses concern over witnessing sociological theory being isolated from its public purpose, as he himself felt when struck by the disillusionment of his “sterile and pointless” theoretical work, removed from his “original moral and political motives for becoming a sociologist”. The AIDS crisis in the 1980s shifted Seidman’s focus away from sociology and onto a myriad of other areas: feminism, post-structuralism, race theory and so on. Returning to sociology in later years, Seidman appears to have come to terms with the discipline of sociology, adopting a relativist stance. He aims to integrate a classic universalist theoretical past with a contemporary autonomous interdisciplinary present. Seidman appeals for a public sociology, in that social (or situated) knowledge should be a moral and political enterprise that makes a difference to our lives, and “to be part of the ongoing conversation and conflict over the present and future shape of the social world”. “A will to make a better world” is a very noble aim, and perhaps a futile one, but the sheer optimism of this does/might lure in a sociological newcomer.
Contested Knowledge is divided
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