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SOCIAL THEORY and the Sociological Discipline(s) - page 14 / 44





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13 ESA Social Theory Conference, Innsbruck, September 11-13, 2008

Jan Balon

Prague, Czech Republic

Theoretical Research in Sociology: Its Conditions of Possibility

In my paper I concentrate on the problem of theoretical explanatory models in sociology. My intention is to map and critically analyze both the argument against theoretical forms of explanation and the argument re- constructively adopting and revising classical, modern and contemporary sociological theories of action. The questions, I am addressing, are the following: how is (sociological) explanation of action possible, and how is it, today, possible to dismantle the problematical relation between general theory and experience? Historically, I take Parsonsian project of general action theory, and consequent attempts at the reconstruction and revision of Parsonsian theory, as a key reference. However, the intention is not to call for a renewal of sociology in the form of Parsonsian type of theorizing,

but conduct a detailed study of reconstructive theoretical explanatory models, their contradictions and conditions of possibility. My paper considers the concept of action to be a central category of social inquiry: it intends to delineate the challenged object of a general theory of action, analyze the conditions and prerequisites of general explanatory schemas and integrate them into a theoretical explanatory model. My key point is to take sociological theory of action as an example of a viable theoretical approach, allowing to address the problems of theory construction both systematically and analytically. I argue that the dissolution of sociological theory is not in sight, since it generated a certain conceptual framework without which sociology would be fundamentally incomplete.

Gabriel Barhaim

Netanya, Israel

On the Imbalance of the Present Private and Public Sphere

The paper is



the imbalance of








consequently the role played by the public morality and its cultural discourses as a result of this asymmetry. The argument is based on Peter Berger’s statement that the private sphere is deinstitutionalized while the public sphere is over institutionalized. In the paper I put

forward the idea that as a result of the transference of

functions from family to other institutions both spheres have radically changed.The public sphere has become a private oriented public sphere while the private sphere has been transformed into a vulnerable and powerless environment. Two main sets of functions have been shifted from the private to the public: emotional and body functions.The construction of both spheres has been taking place around this shifting. The paper sets out to analyze the implications emerging when private needs once met by the family are now serviced by public organizations. Especially, the concern is with the empowerment of public moralities and individuals’vulnerabilties to their imperatives.

Henning Bech

Copenhagen, Denmark

Some Pitfalls of Critical Sociology: An overview of trends during the last 20 years

Surveying the theoretical landscape of the last 20 years of “critical sociology”, it appears that it is largely

Feminism, Bourdieu or Latour), often in some kind of alliance. The paper aims at specifying the characteristics of these theoretical frameworks as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Further, some alternatives will be discussed.

dominated by a number of “paradigms




”. Among these politologism,

discursivism, lacanianism, and monoperspectivism à la mode (be it Habermas, Foucault light, Luhman,

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