Thinking the Unthinkable: The Riddles of Classical Social Theories
by Charles C. Lemert
In the eloquent style for which he has become famous, Charles Lemert writes of social theory as no one else. Thinking the Unthinkable is offered as text for instruction, yet it defies the prevailing assumption that social theory is a method for clarifying the facts of social life. Lemert shows how social theory began late in the 19th century as a struggle to come to terms with the failure of modern reason to solve the social problems created by the capitalist world-system. Since then, social theory has developed through twists and turns to think and rethink this Unthinkable. Hence the surprising innovations of recent years-postmodern, queer, postcolonial, third-wave feminist, risk theories, among others arising in the wake of globalization. Once again, Lemert has made the difficult clear in a book that students and other readers will treasure and keep.
An often profound, sometimes melancholic, and always elegant meditation on classical social theory, which is defined, according to Lemert, by its courageous and insistent effort to comprehend the irrationality that has threatened modern humankind.
?Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University
Charles Lemert has already given sociologists great books that have profoundly changed how we teach social theory. He has done it again. With Thinking the Unthinkable he offers a concise but rich review of the riddles that engaged classical social theorists and which confront us still today. The reader is introduced to a diverse group of classical social theorists, given a sense of the expanse of their thought and a taste of their writings. There even is a glossary of the most important of their concepts. Just right for the classroom. Just right for these times.
?Patricia Ticineto Clough, Queens College and The Graduate Center – CUNY
Vintage Lemert. There is sophistication underlying his literary flair for down to earth writing. This book is an erudite and engaging meditation on the lessons Lemert has derived from his sustained engagement with a diverse array of writers who have changed how we think about social things.
?Peter Kivisto, Augustana College
### About the Author
**Charles Lemert** is Senior Fellow in the Center for Comparative Research, Yale University, and Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of South Australia, Adelaide. He is the author of numerous books including *Uncertain Worlds*, with Immanuel Wallerstein and Carlos Rojas, and *Thinking the Unthinkable.*
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