A classic in sociological thoughtnow back in print!
Unthinking Social Science
The Limits of Nineteenth-Century Paradigms
Search the full text of this book
Second Edition, with a New Preface
In this, new edition of a classic worknow with a new prefaceon the roots of social scientific thinking, Immanuel Wallerstein develops a thorough-going critique of the legacy of nineteenth-century social science for social thought in the new millennium. We have to "unthink"radically revise and discardmany of the presumptions that still remain the foundation of dominant perspectives today. Once considered liberating, these notions are now barriers to a clear understanding of our social world. They include, for example, ideas built into the concept of "development." In place of such a notion, Wallerstein stresses transformations in time and space. Geography and chronology should not be regarded as external influences upon social transformations but crucial to what such transformation actually is. Unthinking Social Science applies the ideas thus elaborated to a variety of theoretical areas and historical problems. Wallerstein also offers a critical discussion of the key figures whose ideas have influenced the position he formulatesincluding Karl Marx and Fernand Braudel, among others. In the concluding sections of the book, Wallerstein demonstrates how these new insights lead to a revision of world-systems analysis.
"Wallerstein’s influence on macro historical sociology has been invaluable. The twin challenge in his work is that we should view social phenomena in the broadest possible terms and should do so preserving a commitment to substantive rationality and the promotion of social change."
"The important subject [of this book] is the nature of the knowledge we generate...Wallerstein argues that the paradigms we work through with their associated agendas, frameworks, and debates have become fundamental restraints on understanding our social world. They are a legacy of the nineteenth century, and it is time for them to be replaced. Hence, Wallerstein is not a revisionist; rather than 'rethink,' he believes we must 'unthink' the paradigms that fetter both our thought and practice. That is what Wallerstein's world-systems analysis is all aboutit is not a theory about the social world, but a 'protest' against how social scientific inquiry is structured...Wallerstein relocates epistemology at the center of our critical concerns for society."
"[Unthinking Social Science] presents a clear thesis: Wallerstein uses a world-historical argument tying the emergence of 'modern' ideologies and social sciences to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century world-system dynamics, debunks them, and calls for their reformulation."
"A major...work by one of the twentieth century's giants in theory, history, and sociology."
Preface to the Second Edition
Part I: The Social Sciences: From Genesis to Bifurcation
Part II: The Concept of Development
Part III: Concepts of Time and Space
Part IV: Revisiting Marx
Part V: Revisiting Braudel
Part VI: World-Systems Analysis as Unthinking