Harry Dahms

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Harry F. Dahms has been an associate professor of sociology (since 2004), Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice (since 2009), and Co-Chair of the Committee on Social Theory (since 2013) at the University of Tennessee, and was Director of Graduate Studies (2006-2011) and Associate Head (2006-2010) in the Department of Sociology. His primary research and teaching areas are theoretical sociology (social, sociological, and critical theory[1][2]), economic sociology, globalization, social inequality, and social justice. Since 2008, he has been Editor of Current Perspectives in Social Theory,[3] and since 2012, Co-Coordinator of the International Social Theory Consortium (ISTC).[4]

Education and career[edit]

Previously, he taught at Florida State University in Tallahassee (starting in 1993), and as a visiting professor at University of Göttingen, Germany (1999/2000) and at University of Innsbruck, Austria (2011, 2012) . Before completing his PhD degree at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1993, he also taught at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. While at the New School, he benefited from the teaching and guidance of Arthur J. Vidich, Andrew Arato, José Casanova, Ágnes Heller, Robert Heilbroner, Guy Oakes, Claus Offe, Eric Hobsbawm, and others. His master’s degree is from University of Konstanz, Germany (1986), where Ralf Dahrendorf and Albrecht Wellmer were the most important influences.


His research and teaching pertains to the tensions in the modern age between economic change, on the one hand, and politics, culture and society, on the other. Interpreting the contributions of Marx and Weber, in particular, as foundations for a dynamic theory of modern society, he starts out from the proposition that it is only from the perspective of “globalization” (including the debates about restructuring, transnational corporations, and neo-imperialism) that the contradictions and paradoxes of modern society can be disentangled.

The spectrum of his theoretical reference points reach from the critical theory of the Frankfurt School at one end, to Joseph Schumpeter's social theory of capitalism, at the other. In modern society, a particular kind of social order fused with a specific type of social processes, into an inherently irreconcilable force-field that maintains stability by devising mechanisms designed to contain the destructive power of the contradictions, in the process continually deepening those contradictions. The consequence is a widening gap between the categories social scientists employ to “meaningfully” interpret present conditions, and the categories that would have to be developed and deployed to maintain the possibility of meaning—socially, culturally, and politically.

In the interest of setting the stage for developing categories that are tailored explicitly to capture the contradictory nature of modern society, he has begun to frame the latter as compounded layers of alienation. A related line of inquiry pertains to the possibilities to tackle alienation that might result from implementations of basic income, or guaranteed minimum income.

In addition to being Editor of Current Perspectives in Social Theory, he is also Associate Editor of Basic Income Studies, Soundings. An Interdisciplinary Journal, Advisory Editor of The Sociological Quarterly, and a Member of the Editorial Board of The Newfound Press, and imprint of the University of Tennessee Libraries.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Nature, Knowledge, and Negation (Editor). Volume 26 of Current Perspectives in Social Theory (Emerald, 2009) -- http://books.emeraldinsight.com/display.asp?K=9781849506052.
  • No Social Science Without Critical Theory (Editor). Volume 25 of Current Perspectives in Social Theory (Emerald, 2008) -- http://books.emeraldinsight.com/display.asp?K=9780762314836.
  • Globalization Between the Cold War and Neo-Imperialism (Special Volume Editor). Volume 24 of Current Perspectives in Social Theory (Elsevier/JAI, 2006) -- http://books.emeraldinsight.com/display.asp?K=9780762313143.
  • "Capitalism Unbound? Peril and Promise of Basic Income." Basic Income Studies 1(1) 2006--http://www.bepress.com/bis/.
  • "Globalization as Hyper-Alienation: Critiques of Traditional Marxism as Arguments for Basic Income." Current Perspectives in Social Theory. 23 2005: 205-77.
  • "Does Alienation have a Future? Recapturing the Core of Critical Theory." In Trauma, Promise, and the Millennium: The Evolution of Alienation. ed. L. Langman and D.K. Fishman. Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.
  • "THE MATRIX Trilogy as Critical Theory of Alienation: Communicating a Message of Radical Transformation." Transdisciplinary Journal of Emergence. 3 (1) 2005: 108-24.
  • "Sociology in the Age of Globalization: Toward a Dynamic Sociological Theory." Current Perspectives in Social Theory. 21 2002: 287-320.
  • Transformations of Capitalism: Economy, Society and the State in Modern Times (London: Palgrave, and New York: NYU Press, 2000).
  • "The Early Frankfurt School Critique of Capitalism: Critical Theory Between Pollock's `State Capitalism' and the Critique of Instrumental Reason." In The Theory of Capitalism in the German Economic Tradition. ed. P. Koslowski Berlin: Springer, 2000.
  • "Beyond the Carousel of Reification: Critical Social Theory After Lukács, Adorno and Habermas." Current Perspectives in Social Theory. 18 1998: 3-62.
  • "Theory in Weberian Marxism: Patterns of Critical Social Theory in Lukács and Habermas." Sociological Theory. 15 (3) 1997:181-214.
  • "From Creative Action to the Social Rationalization of the Economy: Joseph A. Schumpeter's Social Theory." Sociological Theory. 13 (1) 1995: 1-13.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Patricia Mooney Nickel (ed.), North American Critical Theory after Postmodernism. Contemporary Dialogues. Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 199-200.
  2. ^ Lauren Langman and Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, "Alienation: Critique and Alternative Futures", in The ISA Handbook in Contemporary Sociology. Conflict, Competition, Cooperation, ed. by Ann Denis and Devorah Kalekin-Fishman. Los Angeles: Sage, 2009, pp. 9-28; here: p. 16.
  3. ^ http://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/products/books/series.htm?id=0278-1204
  4. ^ http://socialtheory.org International Social Theory Consortium