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The Urgency of Critical Theory Today: Towards Optimism and Renewal in a Neoliberal World

Burton, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-4531-9413, Outhwaite, W. & Susen, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-0643-1891 (2021). The Urgency of Critical Theory Today: Towards Optimism and Renewal in a Neoliberal World. Berlin Journal of Critical Theory, 5(2), pp. 141-167.


This article takes the form of a critical conversation between three generations of critical theorists, examining the role of critical theory in the neoliberal academy: does this sort of intellectual project still have a place in an academic and educational system that tends to favour empirical research and policy-driven projects? Through a discussion of the relationship between critical theory and power, privilege, and positionality, the article addresses the ongoing urgency of such intellectual activities in the present context. The dialogue between the three participants acknowledges critical theory’s historical, and continuing, fragility within the university, while elucidating the ways that it can provide a vehicle for challenging dominant forms of power. In doing so, this cross-generational exchange demonstrates that critical theory remains a vital space of rebellion, optimism, and social change.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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