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Where do you go beyond structure and agency?

In his book The structure of social theory, Anthony King argues that understandings  of society need to go beyond the restrictive dualism of structure and agency – a dualism that according to him takes us too far away from human relations and leaves sociology marooned in the mythical state of the lone individual. Contemporary social […]

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What did Hegel mean by Geist?

In his excellent book The structure of social theory, Anthony King does the social sciences a big favour by taking on the might of the restrictive paradigm that is structure and agency. I’ll come back to some of King’s core ideas in later posts, but for this post I want to focus on the chapter […]

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The Desire to be Desired

Love is a relational emotion as central to the human condition as the need for physical sustenance.  It is an emotion inescapable in both public and private life, with much of popular entertainment devoted to romance and relationships. But its ubiquity is no guarantee of understanding – love is still viewed as a mysterious force […]

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Keeping Score

Religion and the Vale of Tears

Any talk of the relational world must inevitably at some stage come back to religion, a regulatory mechanism of real force in intersubjective dynamics, an influence obvious in so many facets of social and cultural life. Dirty Looks has already explored this influence to some extent, particularly in relation to secular forms of martyrdom and […]

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There is No Other

The cult of the individual permeates so much modern thinking about society, equality and democracy that, when combined with the romance of individualism (heroism, glory and vanity all wrapped into one), little space is left to consider the alternatives. Whatever space is left is normally colonised by shouting matches ‘debating’ structural deficiencies versus personal morality. […]