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Society and the Absurd

A Sociology of Conflictual Encounters

Shlomo Giora Shoham has been awarded the Israel Prize for 2003, for his contribution to the study of criminology. He is a widely published author on crime, deviance, philosophy, religion, psychology and the human personality. He lectures worldwide, and has recently been resident at the universities of Oxford and Harvard, and at the Sorbonne.

There is an unbridgeable controversy between the functionalist sociologist who anchors his theories on society and the group, and the existentialist who bathes his thoughts on the individual. Durkheim and Parsons, as well as many contemporary American sociologists, are adjustment based in the sense that all those individuals who rock the boat even if they are creative innovators would be labelled deviant or mad. The existentialists, from Kierkegaard to Buber, regard the individual as the focus of life; they see philosophy and society as at best a curbing control-structure and at worst coercing, stigmatizing and ostracizing. The present volume treads in the giant footsteps of Albert Camus who saw the absurd as the conflictual encounter between the individual and society. This Second, Revised and Expanded Edition of Society and the Absurd attempts to overcome this deep sociological controversy by investigating absurdity through the prism of an interdisciplinary theory of personality.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-067-5
Paperback Price: £16.95 / $32.50
Release Date: May 2006
Page Extent / Format: 256 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



Introduction – The Breakdown of Meaningful Interaction

1 Accidia and the Absurd – A Conceptual Discussion
2 The Congruity Principle
3 The Broken Image and the Absurd – A Theoretical Analysis
4 The Absurd Revisited
5 The Cognitions of Dialogue
6 The Errant Ego and its Errands
7 Involvement and Interaction
8 Personality Type – The Medium Controlling the Message
9 Defenses, Rituals and Slanted Congruity
10 Petrification


Society and the Absurd portrays the norms of madness as well as legally expectable behavior and the reality of those who reject normative standards. It stresses that every man can achieve truth and self-determination by recognizing that the outside norms are totally lacking justification. This confrontation at last is now available to those who read this succinct scholarly and forthright treatise.
Harold Laswell and Lawrence Freedman, The University of Chicago

Prof. Shoham is at once avant-garde and traditional, revolutionary and sensitive to everything sound and yet not hackneyed in the established body of academic usages. This book is likely to play an important role in the world-wide effort to take the true measure of and deal effectively with the human condition.
Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Leeds

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