20 ESA Social Theory Conference, Innsbruck, September 11-13, 2008
Alexander F. Filippov
Analysis of social perspective
What sociologists do observe? Nobody has ever seen a system, an institute or even a (the) society or social action. We have to infer from what we see to what we only pretend to see in our researches. Our concepts are our optical devices that at once enable and disable us to see what happens. The concepts being constructed in and embedded into a consistent theory do allow us to get always only a restricted access to reality. So, the
conceptualization is so important. It is the question about the interface between theory as a sensitizing scheme and reality as what should be theoretically
placed outside theory, however deficient this distinction may be. My suggestion is that social event be the concept both enabling us to register the most relevant facts of sociological observation and get access to a wide range of resources of theoretical sociology. Event is an element, a unit of sociality – however always in a theoretically grounded perspective of observation. Sociality, as far as it can be observed, consists of events and can be analyzed further and further till we arrive at the level of temporarily shortest and spatially mostly restricted events. From here we can go up, to the complicated figurations of events. The theories of G. H. Mead, E. Goffman, H. Garfinkel and N. Luhmann should be re-interpreted and to some extent integrated as the theories of events.
Social theory against antisemitism: reflections on current trends
The classics of social theory offered an alternative way of thinking about the pathologies and costs of modernity to that provided by antisemitic writers. For example, one aspect of Marx's critique of Bauer, Proudhon, Duehring and Bakunin lay in his rejection of their antisemitism. An analogous comment could be made for Weber, Durkheim and Simmel. In Europe today social theory is once again beginning to confront the question of antisemitism. Some theorists of 'new antisemitism' see it as an imminent threat to the
European project. Some theorists of what I would call 'post-antisemitism' largely deny the existence of antisemitism in the post-Holocaust age. And some in the 'postnationalist' tradition of Habermas take a middle position: they take the threat of antisemitism seriously but see the construction of the new Europe as capable of meeting and defeating this threat. My paper takes off from an analysis of the pivotal and neglected role of classical sociology in resisting antisemitic ways of thinking in the age of imperialism and then considers the main currents of contemporary socio-theoretical analysis of antisemitism in Europe in order to compare and contrast them with the classical heritage.