In this comprehensive and engaging study Georges Bataille’s central ideas – the sacred, community and eroticism – are explored in detail. Bataille’s project to understand social bonds and energies at their most fundamental level and to re-energise society by challenging individualism is argued to be of continuing relevance to sociological thought. Bataille’s infamous Collège de Sociologie is placed in the intellectual context of Durkheimian and Maussian sociology. Social effervescence, gift exchange, and the dual, ambivalent and volatile nature of the sacred emerge as the central threads of Bataille’s thought, ideas which challenge both capitalist hegemony and the reductive notion of society as exclusively normative and repressive. The study concludes by applying Bataille’s ideas to contemporary issues including de-secularisation and the rise of religious fundamentalism, the vicarious experience of transgressive violence, and finally, to consumerism and the violence of globalisation. The study seeks to reposition Bataille as a key figure in sociological theory.
Table of Contents
Preface Introduction 1. Animality 2. The Sacred and the Foundations of Society 3. Politics and Community 4. Eroticism 5. General Economy and Sovereignty 6. Mysticism and Inner Experience 7. Bataille and the Future of Society
William Pawlett is a senior lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. His main areas of research are social, cultural and media theory; continental philosophy; and the application of these to the issues of sexuality and consumerism, and to violence, hatred and 'otherness'. He is a member of The Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association, The British Sociological Association and a global network of scholars contributing to The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies.