Change Is Inevitable Except For Moral Absolutes
Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction by Anthony Elliott
This book is a rich, introductory resource on contemporary social theory as it is reflected in the disciplines of sociology, politics, history, and cultural studies. It is a great textbook for individuals who have little or no exposure to the major historical developments and theoretical processes of these disciplines. The material is presented in a clear, simple, straightforward style that the novice can easily comprehend and it includes definitions or explanations of scientific or new terminology. I found the book to be quite riveting because it has really broadened my thinking and understanding regarding numerous societal issues and concerns on so many levels or as the author would say, on the various “textures of society.”  I plan to revisit this book for a more in depth reading when time will permit.
In this book, Elliott discusses the complexities of contemporary social theory since its beginnings in the 1920s to the present time. He states that his aim is to, “introduce readers to some of the most challenging perspectives, and surprising innovations, on the multidimensional aspect of contemporary social processes.”  These processes encompass global changes in the increasingly interrelationships regarding the everyday lives of individuals socially, culturally, and economically. There is a general consensus among social theorists that new social and cultural forms characterize the world in which we live, and which have required new terminology to describe. Terns like globalization, global transformation, borderless world, global citizen, border crossing, geopolitical, transnational, information technologies, and global warming express some of the new global realities in contemporary living.
The discussion in the book is developed around five main themes: “the relation between the individual and society; the degree of consensus or conflict in modern societies; change or social transformation; gender issues; and the relation between the social and the emotional, between our public and private worlds.”  The author’s commentary is supplemented by the arguments and counterarguments of a variety of classical and contemporary theorists from the Frankfurt School to globalism, respectively.
I found globalization and the new individualism to be of special interest because of the striking portrayal of the contemporary human condition revealing the global field as ripe for harvest in Christian evangelism. In The New Individualism: The Emotional Costs of Globalization (2006), Anthony Elliott and Charles Lemert study individuals in their response to “corporate and networking pressure in terms of self-identity.”  These authors describe this new individualism as a focus on “continual self-actualization and instant self-reinvention” . . . “in compulsive consumerism,” . . . “in a world that places a premium on instant gratification and the desire for immediate results.” . The individuals these analysts studied in the new individualism were primarily confused, anxious, and depressed. Elliott and Lemert attribute this new individualism to be “a consequence of our world of intensive globalization that offers people a kind of absolute freedom to do whatever they like.”  In short, the theological implications of Elliott and Lemert’s findings would suggest that globalization promotes absolute freedom of choice in one’s actions instead of obedience to God’s absolute authority. No wonder they are spiritually and emotionally overwrought.
. Anthony Elliott, Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2014), vii.
 Ibid., 7.
. Ibid., 11-15.
. Ibid., 360.
. Ibid., 361.
 Ibid., 362.
Elliott, Anthony. Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2014.