Anxiety, Modern Society, and the Critical Method

Toward a Theory and Practice of Critical Socioanalysis


Anxiety, Modern Society, and the Critical Method interrogates the historical intersections of political economy, technology, and anxiety. By analyzing and building upon the tools developed by critical theorists to diagnose the symptoms of modern life—such as alienation, anomie, the Protestant ethic, and repression—Joel Michael Crombez convincingly argues for a revitalization of critical social science to better confront the anxiety of life in modern societies.

With anxiety typically falling under the purview of psychology and its biomedical approach to treatment, here anxiety is demonstrated to have origins in the totalizing logics of modern society. As such, Crombez provides an interdisciplinary roadmap to diagnose and treat anxiety—which he calls critical socioanalysis—that accounts for the psychosocial complexity of its production.

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Joel Michael Crombez, Ph.D. (2018, University of Tennessee-Knoxville), is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University. He works in critical, social, and psychoanalytic theory at the intersection of political economy, technology, and mental health. His most recent publication, an article with Steven Panageotou, “The United States of Trump Corp” (Fast Capitalism 17(1), 2020) theorizes the Trumpian model of governance.
List of Illustrations


From Traditional to Modern Society: The Critical Method of Early Modern Social Thought
 Introduction to Part 1

1 Scenic Landscape 1
1 Traditional Life and the Totalizing Logic of Christianity
2 A Revolution in Space and of the Mind
3 Enlightenment and the Birth of Modernity

2 Critical Methods 1
1 From Philosophy to Social Theory: (Hegel, Feuerbach and) Marx’s Critical Method and the Totalizing Logic of Capital
2 The Individual, the Social, and the Knot: Toward the Durkheimian Symptom of Anomie
3 Totalizing the Mind and Spirit: Weber and the Unholy Union of Religion and Capital
4 From Psychoanalysis to Socioanalysis: Anxiety, Repression, and Talk Therapy in Freud
Conclusion to Part 1

Technology, Modern Wars, and the Rise of Consumer Culture: The Frankfurt School Revisits the Critical Method
Introduction to Part 2

3 Scenic Landscape 2
1 The Totalizing Logic of Capital Comes of Age: The Path to Technological Embeddedness and Mass Society
2 The Darker Side of Modernity: World War

4 Critical Methods 2
1 The Psychosocial Origins of the Frankfurt School
2 From the Critical Method to Critical Theory and Negative Dialectics
3 A Lesson for Socioanalysis: Anxiety and the Social Vicissitudes of Technology and War in Mass Society
Conclusion to Part 2

Anxiety-Dreams of Posthuman Futures: Sorting through the Discourses of 21st Century Life
Introduction to Part 3

5 Scenic Landscape 3
1 The Postmodern Rupture in Modern Society
2 We Are All Cyborgs Now: Life in the Mass
3 The Coming Tide: Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Space Colonization

6 Critical Methods 3
1 Critical Socioanalysis: Setting Up
2 Discourses of the Psyche and the Self: A Lacanian Framework
3 The Other Side of Socioanalysis: A Guide for Talk Therapy
Conclusion to Part 3



Sociologists, political economists, technologists, psychoanalysts, therapists, and anyone interested in critical theory, the link between psychosocial problems and modern society, and/or the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety.
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