Authority: A Sociological History

Authority: A Sociological History

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Frank Furedi
Cambridge University Press, 9/12/2013
EAN 9781107007284, ISBN10: 1107007283

Hardcover, 480 pages, 23.4 x 15.7 x 2.4 cm
Language: English

Concern with authority is as old as human history itself. Eve's sin was to challenge the authority of God by disobeying his rule. Frank Furedi explores how authority was contested in ancient Greece and given a powerful meaning in Imperial Rome. Debates about religious and secular authority dominated Europe through the Middle Ages and the Reformation. The modern world attempted to develop new foundations for authority – democratic consent, public opinion, science – yet Furedi shows that this problem has remained unresolved, arguing that today the authority of authority is questioned. This historical sociology of authority seeks to explain how the contemporary problems of mistrust and the loss of legitimacy of many institutions are informed by the previous attempts to solve the problem of authority. It argues that the key pioneers of the social sciences (Marx, Durkheim, Simmel, Tonnies and especially Weber) regarded this question as one of the principal challenges facing society.

always in question
1. Thersites and the personification of anti-authority
2. Socrates and the quest for authority
3. Rome and the founding of authority
4. Augustus – a role model for authority through the ages
5. Medieval authority and the investiture contest
6. Medieval claim-making and the sociology of tradition
7. Reformation and the emergence of the problem of order
8. Hobbes and the problem of order
9. The rationalisation of authority
10. The limits of the authority of the rational
11. Taming public opinion and the quest for authority
12. Nineteenth-century authority on the defensive
13. Authority transformed into sociology's cause
14. The rise of negative theories of authority
15. By-passing authority through the rationalisation of persuasion
16. In the shadow of authoritarianism
final thoughts.

Advance praise: 'A convincing and very knowledgeable study of the notion of authority throughout the history of western social and political thought. Spanning almost thirty centuries of western thought, it is profound, well-argued and an impressive tribute to the wealth of sociological and philosophical scholarship.' Mark Bovens, Utrecht University School of Governance