Is a pragmatic sociology of criticism possible? Some reflections on Luc Boltanski's De la critique

Susen, S. (2012). Is a pragmatic sociology of criticism possible? Some reflections on Luc Boltanski's De la critique. Revue Philosophique de Louvain, 110(4), pp. 685-728. doi: 10.2143/RPL.110.4.2182865

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The main purpose of this article is to provide an in - depth discu ssion of Luc Boltanski’s On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation . On the basis of a detailed textual analysis of this book, the paper offers a fine - grained account of the strengths and weaknesses of Boltanski’s «pragmatic sociology of critique». The study is divided into two parts. The first part examines five signi - ficant strengths o f On Critique : (1) its engagement with the normative tasks of critical theory ; (2) its insights into the structuring function of institutions ; (3) its emphasis on the justificatory role of critique ; (4) its concern with the adaptable nature of domination ; and (5) its insistence upon the empowering potential of emancipation . Following the thematic structure of the previous investigation, the second part reflects upon the flaws and limitations of On Critique : (1) its failure to provide solid normative foundat ions for critical theory; (2) its terminologically imprecise, analytically short - sighted, and insufficiently differentiated conception of institutions; (3) its unsystematic approach to the multi - layered relationship between ordinary and scientific forms of critique; (4) its lack of attention to the polycentric constitution of power relations in highly differentiated societies; and (5) its reductive understanding of human emancipation.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Sociology

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