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Violence, Social Movements, and Black Freedom Struggles

Ten Theses toward a Research Agenda for Scholars of Contention Today

AK Thompson

George Floyd’s murder by police on 26 May 2020 set off a cycle of struggle that was notable for its size, intensity, and rate of diffusion. Starting in Minneapolis, the uprising quickly spread to dozens of other major cities and brought with it a repertoire that included riots, arson, and looting. In many places, these tactics coexisted with more familiar actions like public assemblies and mass marches; however, the inflection these tactics gave to the cycle of contention is not easily reconciled with the protest repertoire most frequently mobilized during movement campaigns in the United States today. This discrepancy has led to extensive commentary by scholars and movement participants, who have often weighed in by considering the moral and strategic efficacy of the chosen tactics. Such considerations should not be discounted. Nevertheless, I argue that both the dynamics of contention witnessed during the uprising and their ambivalent relationship to the established protest repertoire must first be understood in historical terms. By considering the relationship between violence, social movements, and Black freedom struggles in this way, I argue that scholars can develop a better understanding of current events while anticipating how the dynamics of contention are likely to develop going forward. Being attentive to these dynamics should in turn inform our research agendas, and it is with this aim in mind that I offer the following ten theses.

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Mike Gane

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Robert Leroux

Abstract

It is well known that Durkheim was a major source of influence in most of Boudon's writings. But his vision of Durkheim has evolved a lot over the years. In the 1960s until the 1990s, he presented Durkheim as a positivist, fairly close to Auguste Comte, and he considered The Rules of the Sociological Method as a mediating work which announced all of the Durkheim's thought. In his most recent works, Boudon brings an original perspective that Durkheim was an important theorist of rationality.

Résumé

Boudon a développé une admiration durable pour Durkheim dont il ne s'est jamais départi. Durkheim n'a jamais cessé en effet d'être pour lui un inspirateur, mais la lecture qu'il en fait a néanmoins évolué au fil du temps. Des années 1960 aux années 1990 il le présente comme un auteur positiviste dont il admire la réflexion sur la scientificité de la sociologie. Après 1990 il le présente comme un précurseur malgré lui de l'individualisme méthodologique, et traduit sa sociologie dans le langage de la théorie de l'action.

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Concerning Durkheim's 1899 Lecture ‘On Penal Sanctions’

Introduction, Translation Notes, and Comments

Ronjon Paul Datta and François Pizarro Noël

Abstract

This article provides a critical introduction to the first English translation of Durkheim's Saturday, 2 December 1899, lecture that he entitled ‘Course Outline: On Penal Sanctions’. It was written for the first class of the final year of his course ‘General Physics of Law and Morality’. We provide some context to the lecture, a description of the four-year long course at Bordeaux of which it was a part, offer notes on our translation, and discuss the salience of its content. Of particular note is Durkheim's sociological reasoning, and the critical impact of antisubjectivism on the development of his special theory of sanctions and conception of morality as part of social reality.

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Creating a reflective space in higher education

The case of a Swedish course for professional principals

Katina Thelin

This article considers the conditions, possibilities, and challenges of creating what is referred to here as a ‘reflective space’ within a higher education course for principals. It is informed by the findings of a qualitative research inquiry conducted in the interests of enhancing the principals’ learning and professional praxis and the university educators’ pedagogical praxis, within a Swedish course for school and preschool principals. Analysis of the findings highlighted two significant patterns. The first relates to the transformative benefits of creating a ‘reflective space’ for the principals attending the course. The second is more ambiguous and reflects their relation to and engagement with scientifically constructed knowledge. Based on these findings, the article offers considerations relevant for creating ‘reflective spaces’ as a means to enhance the quality of learning in higher education. Additionally, some guiding pedagogical implications are included in the final remarks.

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Durkheim en réunion (1ère partie)

Ses interventions à l'Assemblée des professeurs de la Faculté de Lettres de Bordeaux (1887–1902)

Matthieu Béra

Abstract

Thanks to an original archive, this article aims to characterize Durkheim's interventions at the Council of Professors in Bordeaux from 1887 to 1902. Frequency, tonality and above all the subjects of interest of his interventions are studied. We are able to see that he paid great attention to the students and their education (i.e. their courses, fees, grants, the problem of the predominance of Latin, proposals for reform of the competitive agrégation in philosophy) but that he was also interested in administrative subjects (modalities of attribution of new courses and new chairs, procedures of the council) and research subjects (subscriptions for the university library, life of the historical and local Annales du Midi). We finally discover that he certainly had administrative ambitions – to become the dean – ended by political circumstances (the Dreyfus Affair).

Résumé

Cet article vise à caractériser les interventions de Durkheim aux assemblées des professeurs de la Faculté de Lettres de l'université de Bordeaux entre 1887 et 1902 en se référent à une archive inédite. Sont présentées les fréquences, la tonalité et surtout ses domaines d'interventions. On voit qu'il s'intéresse d'abord aux étudiants et à leurs études (ouverture ou fermeture des cours, attribution des bourses, droits d'inscription, problème de la prédominance du latin, réforme de l'agrégation de philosophie), mais aussi aux questions administratives (attribution des chaires, fonctionnement du conseil de l'université), et aux questions liées à la recherche (abonnements en revues à la Bibliothèque universitaire, vie de la revue antiquisante des Annales du midi). On découvre qu'il n'était pas dépourvu d'ambitions administratives, que les circonstances politiques (l'affaire Dreyfus) vinrent contrarier.

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Antoine Savoye

Abstract

Despite the ostracism he maintained towards them, Le Play's social science continuers did not ignore Durkheim's work and commented on it – even if laconically – in their journals. The LePlayists loyal to the master's orthodoxy raised the same grievances against Durkheim throughout his academic life. They refused to accept his conception of the social fact as superior and prior to the individual, imposing itself on him with a coercive force. Their criticisms, however, were less virulent after Durkheim's death, as sociology proved a sustainable science whose project had become irrefutable. With the dissident LePlayists, the view is different. Emerging later, it dealt with the object of sociology and the method advocated by the author of the Règles. From the Tourvillians’ point of view, Durkheim's sociology does not adopt the best path for social science (investigation by direct observation), and neglects its process of coordination of social facts (the nomenclature developed by Tourville). Consequently, Durkheim's results are questionable. The debate the Tourvillians wanted to have with Durkheim took place post mortem, thanks to Bouglé and his students from the Centre de documentation sociale, and their engagement, in the 1930s, with Durkheimian sociology and social science.

Résumé

En dépit de l'ostracisme de Durkheim à leur égard, les représentants de la science sociale issue de Le Play n'ont pas ignoré son œuvre et l'ont commentée – même si laconiquement – dans leurs périodiques, d'une part, La Réforme sociale, d'autre part, La Science sociale et ses dérivés.

Les leplaysiens restés dans l'orthodoxie du maître nourrissent – de la Division du travail social aux Fondements élémentaires de la vie religieuse – les mêmes griefs à l'encontre de Durkheim. Volontiers polémiques, ils refusent sa conception du fait social qui, « supérieur et antérieur à l'individu … s'impose à lui avec une force coercitive prépondérante » (Clément, 1915). Leurs critiques perdent cependant de leur virulence après la mort de Durkheim, au fur et à mesure que la sociologie s'avère une science durable dont le projet devient irréfutable.

Du côté des partisans de la science sociale renouvelée par Henri de Tourville, l'appréciation de Durkheim est différente. Plus tardive, elle porte sur l'objet de la sociologie et sur la méthode prônée par l'auteur des Règles. Aux yeux des tourvilliens, celui-ci n'emprunte pas, à tort, la « voie royale » de la science sociale : l'enquête par observation directe, et néglige l'outil de coordination des faits sociaux qu'est la nomenclature mise au point par Tourville. Dès lors, les résultats auxquels aboutit Durkheim, par exemple dans les Fondements, sont sujets à caution (Descamps, 1912). La critique des tourvilliens est d'autant plus vive qu'elle se nourrit d'un dépit : Durkheim ne fait aucun cas de leurs travaux (Périer, 1913). Le débat qu'ils auraient souhaité engager n'aura lieu que post mortem, grâce à Bouglé et ses élèves du Centre de documentation sociale (Aron, Polin) qui joueront le jeu, dans les années trente, de la confrontation entre sociologie et science sociale.

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Editorial

Walking on the edge: Educational praxis in higher education

Lill Langelotz, Kathleen Mahon, and Giulia Messina Dahlberg

This special issue is a collection of articles that emerged from a series of symposia on praxis in higher education, aimed at critically exploring challenges and possibilities for educational praxis, including its role in the contemporary university. The collection highlights the need for asking critical and uncomfortable questions about what is and what could be in higher education. It calls for more focused attention on the consequences of what we do as teachers and university communities, both intentionally and inadvertently, so that higher education can be more socially just and responsive to student and societal needs amidst contemporary challenges. In explicating the concept of ‘educational praxis’, the editorial introduces the metaphor of ‘walking on the edge’ to illustrate the concept’s ‘uncomfortable dimension’ in terms of academics’ responsibility to engage critically with challenging issues in endeavours to address educational concerns.

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Peter R. Gardner and Benjamin Abrams

Even amid a global pandemic, contention never ceases. Despite governmental restrictions on public assembly in countries across the globe and the societal fears of transmission, the COVID-19 pandemic has nonetheless been a period of widespread contentious action. The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States sparked a host of antiracist protests worldwide, in the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Australia, South Korea, and elsewhere. In May, after a brief lull, the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong resumed street action. In August, thousands amassed in Minsk to oppose the result of the Belarussian presidential election, alleged by many to be fraudulent. Days later, large crowds of demonstrators gathered in Bangkok calling for reformation of the Thai monarchy and the dissolution of Prayut Chan-O-Cha's government. At the time of writing, the environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion appears poised for mass action in Westminster to call for a political response commensurate with the scale of the climate crisis to be passed into UK legislation. All this is to say that even when societies lock down, opportunities for contention most certainly remain open.

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Jean-Christophe Marcel, Matthieu Béra, Jean-François Bert, and François Pizarro Noël