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Mobility

Geographies, Histories, Sociologies

Peter Merriman, Rhys Jones, Tim Cresswell, Colin Divall, Gijs Mom, Mimi Sheller and John Urry

This article is an edited transcript of a panel discussion on “mobility studies“ which was held as part of a workshop on mobility and community at Aberystwyth University on September 3, 2012. In the article the five panelists reflect upon the recent resurgence of research on mobility in the social sciences and humanities, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary debates, and the ways in which established fields such as transport history, migration studies, and sociology are being reshaped by new research agendas. The panelists discuss the importance of engaging with issues of politics, justice, equality, global capital, secrecy, and representation, and they encourage researchers to focus on non-Western and non-hegemonic mobilities, as well as to produce “useable“ studies which engage policy-makers.

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Baruch Kimmerling

This article analyzes recent trends in Israeli public sociology and examines the extent to which Israeli sociologists have been engaged in the public realm. The basic presumption informing this essay is that since the 1967 War, Israeli society has been in a continuous state of crisis as a result of an inability to make decisions regarding the Occupied Territories. This crisis and its societal consequences have not been incorporated into Israeli academic sociology, either conceptually or paradigmatically. One result of this omission (but perhaps also its major cause) is the withdrawal of most Israeli sociologists from the public sphere and the lack of public sociology in Israel. The author calls for discussion and debate among his Israeli colleagues regarding this state of affairs.

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Eduardo Cintra Torres

This article aims to bring out Durkheim's development of a pioneering sociology of the crowd, overlapping with yet going beyond psychological theories of the time. It begins by exploring the terminology used by Durkheim, colleagues and contemporaries in referring to crowds/gatherings/assemblies, and next asks about the social, political and intellectual context in which 'the crowd' became a key issue, as in the Dreyfus Affair and among writers such as Tarde. It then focuses on the issue's discussion in Durkheim's new journal, the Année sociologique, as well as in his own major works, but above all in Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, which offers a seminal, if concealed, sociology of the crowd.

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Sociology in the Garden

Beyond the Liberal Grammar of Contemporary Sociology

Nissim Mizrachi

This article poses a simple question: why do marginalized Mizrahim, a group most likely to benefit from liberal justice and human rights, so vehemently and repeatedly reject the liberal message? To address this question, we shift the direction of inquiry from problems in the message’s transmission or reception to the message itself. By doing so, we seek to go beyond the ‘liberal grammar’ shared by most social activists and critical sociologists. The insight emerging from this theoretical turn is that the politics of universalism, rooted in the liberal grammar of human rights and viewed from the liberal standpoint as a key to social emancipation, is experienced by the target population as a heartless betrayal and a grave identity threat. This article offers the initial outline for a new interpretive space and seeks to surpass both the limits of the Israeli case and those of the liberal grammar of contemporary critical sociology.

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Le Suicide in Poland

Analysis of the Spread and Reception of a Sociological Classic

Antoni Sułek

In 2006 a Polish translation of Émile Durkheim’s Le suicide was published in Warsaw. Polish sociology is one of the most active in the European sociological tradition, both drawing and contributing to this, and has developed in close touch with the world’s centres of sociology. Yet Le suicide was not translated into Polish until more than one hundred years after the original edition. The paper explores this paradoxical situation, and traces the work’s career from its early reception in Poland, through the inter-war years, the post-Stalinist ‘thaw’ after 1956, the Solidarity movement and the crisis of the 1980s, up to the present day. But also, in taking the example of Le suicide and Poland, it aims to show how a classic work created in the centre of Europe spreads across other countries; which paths it takes; how it reaches a country situated far from the metropolis; how it is perceived there, accepted or rejected; how it is assimilated and included in the body of public and scientific work.

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Monika Boll

This article delves into the relationship between cultural radio and the Cold War. After 1945, culural radio took on a central role in the intellectual self-understanding of the early Federal Republic. From the very beginning, there was much less censorship than with political editorial departments. Thus, it was possible for cultrual radio to offer an intellectual forum in which socialism was not simply dismissed due to the official anticommunist political doctrine. This article shows the ways in which the East-West conflict was present in the cultrual departments of radio broadcasters. It argues that socialism appeared less as an ideological restraint or taboo, but rather as a productive challenge, which in the end was part of the modernization of West Germany's intellectual self-understanding. Two prominent examples buttress this argument: the free space that cultrual radio conquered in a kind of leftist integration with the West, and the rapid advancement of sociological discourse.

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The Voice of History within Sociology

Robert Nisbet on Structure, Change, and Autonomy

Daniel Gordon

The conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet developed a theory that history is needed to supplement sociology. According to Nisbet, the chiefagents of historical change are the state and war. Sociologists tend to exaggerate the importance of internal or"endogenous" factors when explaining change. The article highlights the relationships between key topics— such as conservatism, medievalism, community, universities, the state, and war—in Nisbet's thought.

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Alexander Gofman

In tracking Durkheim's Russian career, this article first explores Russian sociology during his lifetime, emphasizing its internationalism and noting Russian-related reviews in the Année sociologique. It then focuses on the issue of religion, to compare his approach with contemporary Russian trends, especially bogoyiskatielstvo (god quest) and bogostroyitielstvo (god building). In concluding with the Russian reception of his last great work, Les Formes élémentaires, it contrasts the circumstances before and after his death, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution, and especially compares the responses of Nikolai Berdyaev and Pitirim Sorokin.

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Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

What is environmental expertise? The background to this question is that many scholars consider environmental expertise crucial for discovering, diagnosing, and solving environmental problems but do not discuss in any depth what constitutes expertise. By investigating the meaning and use of the concept of expertise in three general theories within environmental sociology—the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization— and findings from science and technology studies (STS), this article develops a sociological understanding of environmental expertise: what it is and how it is acquired. Environmental expertise is namely about group belonging and professional socialization around specialized skills; that is, it concerns both substantial competence and social recognition. The implications of this general view on expertise are then used to enrich theories in environmental sociology.

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Mike Keating, Cathal O'Siochru and Sal Watt

This article describes a C-SAP-funded project evaluating the introduction of a new tutorial programme for first year Sociology students, which sought to integrate a 'skills framework' to enable students to develop a range of academic skills alongside their study of the subject.

The pegagogical and institutional background to the decision to adopt this 'integrated' approach is summarised and the staff and student experiences are then evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Primarily concerned with evaluating staff and student responses to the new programme, this paper also raises some issues with regard to the methodologies of evaluation.