Bearing Society in Mind

Theories and Politics of the Social Formation

By (author) Samuel A. Chambers

Publication date:

10 October 2014

Length of book:

240 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781783480227

Political and economic models of society often operate at a level of abstraction so high that the connections between them, and their links to culture, are beyond reach. Bearing Society in Mind challenges these disciplinary boundaries and proposes an alternative framework—the social formation.

The theory of social formation demonstrates how the fabric of society is made up of threads that are simultaneously economic, political, and cultural. Drawing on the work of theorists including Marx, Althusser, Butler, Žižek and Rancière,
Bearing Society in Mind makes the strongest case possible for the theoretical importance and political necessity of this concept. It simultaneously demonstrates that the social formation proves to be a very particular and peculiar type of “concept”—it is not a reflection or model of the world, but is definitively and concretely bound up with and constitutive of the world.
In this astute and engaging new book Samuel Chambers shows how radical theory ‘after’ Marx can and must ‘return’ to Marx if it is to realize its critical potential. Chambers’ goal is not to reject movements such as post-structuralism but to retrieve and recreate for them the concept of ‘social formation’ through which we can see better the shape of the present and the kinds of action that open on to what comes next. The book sets out with clarity and conviction the challenge to which a serious contemporary political theory must rise.