In 1936, director John Ford claimed to be making movies for “a new kind of public” that wanted more honest pictures. Graham Cassano’s A New Kind of Public: Community, solidarity, and political economy in New Deal cinema, 1935-1948 argues that this new kind of public was forged in the fires of class struggle and economic calamity. Those struggles appeared in Hollywood productions, as the movies themselves tried to explain the causes and consequence of the Great Depression. Using the tools of critical Marxism and cultural theory, Cassano surveys Hollywood’s political economic explanations and finds a field of symbolic struggle in which radical visions of solidarity and conflict competed with the dominant class ideology for the loyalty of this new audience.
As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the world has entered a sustained period of crisis. In order to understand the forces that created our current social world, we need the tools provided by a critical sociology. This volume draws upon the work of contemporary critical sociologists searching for the roots of our present social and economic problems. Both prominent figures and emerging voices in sociology come together to offer insights into our present dilemmas from a critical perspective. The questions they ask and attempt to answer include: What is critical sociology? What is the significance of the new Obama administration? What tools do post-structuralism, postmodernism, feminism, and new forms of social theory offer critical discourse?