Titel: The Society of Singularities—10 Theses
Autor: Andreas Reckwitz
The article summarizes the content of Andreas Reckwitz’s book The Society of Singularities in 10 theses and briefly links it to the author’s overall work. The Society of Singularities applies a practice theory approach in order to outline a theory of Western (late-)modernity which recognizes in it a basic rivalry between two logics of social evaluation: a social logic of the general and a social logic of the particular/ singular. The question arises which historical causes for the surge of the social logic of uniqueness since the 1980s can be discerned, which structural features this type of society unfolds and which social and political consequences it has.
Titel: Self-Realization and Disappointment in the ‘Society of Singularities’
Autor: Austin Harrington
This contribution focuses on Andreas Reckwitz’s considerations on phenomena of ‘exhausted self-realization’ and ‘disappointment’ in The Society of Singularities, as well as in his follow-up volume, The End of Illusions. Under discussion is the range of analytical distinctions that tend to come into play in this area between what one might call a generally primordial concept of self-realization and more derivative articulations of the concept that exhibit various aspects of instrumentalization—variously termed ‘self-maximization’ or ‘self-optimization’. The paper argues that while Reckwitz’s work offers great resources for an understanding of how and why ‘self-realization’ so frequently appears to take on an instrumentalizing character in late-modern social behaviour, the extent to which his work attributes this tendency to a wholly immanent cultural-cognitive logic of lifestyle singularization is open to criticism. The reasons must also be sought from within the more directly economic contexts of diminished material security and solidarity typical of contemporary societies shaped by neoliberal economic governance orders at the level of policy.
Titel: The Theory of Everything: A Sympathetic Critique of Andeas Reckwitz’s The Society of Singularities
Autor: Patrick Baert
After situating Andreas Reckwitz’s The Society of Singularities within the broader context of the tradition of social theory, we discuss in detail the obvious strengths of this book, notably its impressive range and originality. Subsequently, we elaborate on two limitations of Reckwitz’s argument. Firstly, we argue that Reckwitz’s use of categories such as ‘singularity’ and ‘universality’ is too allembracing, lacking the clarity and focus needed to sustain a productive line of inquiry. Secondly, and related to the previous point, we contend that Reckwitz’s claims about the recent trend towards increasing singularity are so broad that they are difficult to refute empirically. Further, we discuss briefly contemporary political developments to demonstrate why the core societal issues at stake cannot be explained through all-inclusive categories such as singularity. Finally, we maintain that existence theory can provide an alternative fruitful perspective on some of the phenomena discussed in this book.
Titel: Practice Theory as a Tool for Critical Social Theory
Autor: Sally Haslanger
What is the best method for undertaking critical social theory, and what are its ontological and normative commitments? Andreas Reckwitz has developed compelling answers to these questions drawing on practice theory. As a practice theorist myself, I am very sympathetic to his approach. This paper sketches a social theory that extends the reach of practice theory to include non-human animals and allows us to discriminate between importantly different kinds of social formations. In doing so, I argue that a strongly normative basis for differentiating social phenomena is compatible with the methods of social theory and critical social theorists need not shy away from first-order moral commitments.
Titel: The Society of Singularities: Reply to Four Critics
Autor: Andreas Reckwitz
In this article, Andreas Reckwitz replies to the four critical commentaries of Patrick Baert, Andreas Pettenkofer, Austin Harrington and Sally Haslanger on his book The Society of Singularities. In this context, he discusses the general position of this book within the landscape of contemporary social theory and the question of what a ‘social logic of the unique’ means. He enters the question in how far his analysis of the new middle class differs from Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of the new petty bourgeoisie, emphasizing the combination of an orientation towards inner experience and social prestige in his account of the new middle class. He discusses the question of whether neoliberalism is responsible for the proneness to disappointment which the late-modern culture of self-actualization implies. Finally, he works out the differences between the type of critical analytics which his book implies and normative critical theory.