Introduction: the direction of contemporary capitalism and the practical relevance of theory

Chitty, Andrew (1997) Introduction: the direction of contemporary capitalism and the practical relevance of theory. Review of International Political Economy, 4 (3). pp. 435-447. ISSN 0969-2290

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Abstract

Two views are outlined on the question of how social theory, and specifically the theory of capitalist society, can and should be relevant to political action. For the 'instrumentalist' view the theory cannot provide political actors with ultimate ends, but can only give them a diagram of the social mechanism which they can use in working out means to those ends. By contrast, for the 'formative' view, which is exemplified by Hegel's view of the role of philosophy in historical change, theory should act as a mirror to social subjects, showing them the nature of their own activity and thereby inducing a transformation in their basic ends. Some ways are discussed in which a theory of capitalism could play such a formative role for its subjects. It is then argued that, in order to play this role effectively, a formative theory of capitalism would need to abstract from any of the putative dynamics internal to capitalism, such as those of globalization and progressive commodification, which are discussed in the following articles. Theory that deals with such tendencies must stand in an instrumental relationship to political action.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Andrew Chitty
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:23
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2016 15:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20369
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