cover of book

Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society
by Stephan Fuchs
Harvard University Press, 2001
Paper: 978-0-674-01596-8 | eISBN: 978-0-674-03741-0 | Cloth: 978-0-674-00610-2
Library of Congress Classification HM621.F83 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 306


Against Essentialism presents a sociological theory of culture. This interdisciplinary and foundational work deals with basic issues common to current debates in social theory, including society, culture, meaning, truth, and communication. Stephan Fuchs argues that many mysteries about these concepts lose their mysteriousness when dynamic variations are introduced.

Fuchs proposes a theory of culture and society that merges two core traditions--American network theory and European (Luhmannian) systems theory. His book distinguishes four major types of social "observers"--encounters, groups, organizations, and networks. Society takes place in these four modes of association. Each generates levels of observation linked with each other into a "culture"--the unity of these observations.

Against Essentialism presents a groundbreaking new approach to the construction of society, culture, and personhood. The book invites both social scientists and philosophers to see what happens when essentialism is abandoned.

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