Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition)

ISBN : 9780190692674

Stephen Eric Bronner
144 ページ
111 x 175 mm
Very Short Introductions



  • An elegant and precise synthesis of the history of critical theory
  • Explores the contributions of a gamut of well-known representatives of the critical tradition, including Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Jurgen Habermas
  • Presents a fresh, controversial interpretation of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's seminal Dialectic of Enlightenment
  • A compact overview of the cluster of concepts and themes that set critical theory apart from its more traditional philosophical competitors

Critical theory emerged in the 1920s from the work of the Frankfurt School, the circle of German-Jewish academics who sought to diagnose — and, if at all possible, cure — the ills of society, particularly fascism and capitalism. In this book, Stephen Eric Bronner provides sketches of leading representatives of the critical tradition (such as George Lukács and Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas) as well as many of its seminal texts and empirical investigations. 
This Very Short Introduction sheds light on the cluster of concepts and themes that set critical theory apart from its more traditional philosophical competitors. Bronner explains and discusses concepts such as method and agency, alienation and reification, the culture industry and repressive tolerance, non-identity and utopia. He argues for the introduction of new categories and perspectives for illuminating the obstacles to progressive change and focusing upon hidden transformative possibilities. In this newly updated second edition, Bronner targets new academic interests, broadens his argument, and adapts it to a global society amid the resurgence of right-wing politics and neo-fascist movements.


List of Illustrations
Introduction: What is critical theory?
Chapter 1: The Frankfurt School
Chapter 2: A matter of method
Chapter 3: Critical theory and modernism
Chapter 4: Alienation and reification
Chapter 5: Enlightened illusions
Chapter 6: The utopian laboratory
Chapter 7: The happy consciousness
Chapter 8: The great refusal
Chapter 9: From resignation to renewal
Chapter 10: Unfinished tasks: solidarity, resistance, and global society
Further Reading


Stephen Eric Bronner is the Board of Governors Professor at Rutgers University. He is also Director of Global Relations and on the Executive Committee of the UNESCO Chair for Genocide Prevention at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

"This is the only book of its kind: it's a readable, yet expertly crafted, tour through the Frankfurt School, along with a forceful account of why the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory still matters a decade into the new millennium. I can't recommend it highly enough." - Jeffrey T. Nealon, professor of English, Penn State University; co-editor of Rethinking the Frankfurt School

"The book's forthright critique and call to transformation are a breath of fresh air." - Joan Braune, Philosophy in Review