Gabriel Tarde and Contemporary Social Theory
American Sociological Association
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the American Sociological Association via the DOI in this record.
Reason for embargo
After a century of obscurity, the work of Gabriel Tarde is once again attracting the attention of social theorists. In particular, Bruno Latour has been a fervent advocate of Tarde work as a form of sociology which, he claims, anticipates Actor-Network Theory and which is, therefore, appropriate for an era of globalization. Rejecting Durkheimian appeals to an autonomous and pre-formed social reality, Tarde focuses on dynamic and hybrid processes of individual imitation and interaction. This article re-examines the work of Gabriel Tarde to assess the validity of Latour’s interpretation. It claims that Latour’s reading is inaccurate and Tarde’s work is problematic because ultimately it is individualist and teleological; it offers the contemporary social theorist little of value beyond its undoubted historical interest.
Sociological Theory, 2016, Volume 34 (1) pp.45-61