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SOCIAL THEORY and the Sociological Discipline(s) - page 26 / 44





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

Eleonóra Hamar

Brno, Czech Republic

Social Theory Implied:

Articulating the Post-

Holocaust Jewish Second Generation

It has been argued recently that intellectual interchange is needed between Holocaust studies and sociology since the actual separateness and non-dialogical relationship of these fields of knowledge causes blind places on both sides. Gerson and Wolf (2007) for example claims not only that sociology/social theory can play a crucial role in Holocaust studies, but also that Holocaust research might confront the main developments in sociology/social theory. Given that the separateness of Holocaust studies and sociology weakens the argumentative force of both of these fields they are calling for their “intellectual cross-fertilization”. I would like to question this picture by showing how social theory works in the context of post-Holocaust Jewish second generation research. I do not mistrust

the reason behind the mentioned call for intellectual interchange; the underlying principle of this idea is worth of attention. What I cast doubt on is its implicit presupposition: such an idea seems to presume the existence of two separate fields of knowledge (that of Holocaust studies and sociology) which have to be brought closer to each other after a phase of disconnected development. A short analysis of the concept of post-Holocaust Jewish second generation can reveal that the very articulation of such a subject is grounded in social theory. There is no knowledge about the second generation waiting to be cross-fertilized while sociological theories of identity, generations and ethnicities were crucial for its constitution as a relevant object of inquiry.

Rasco Hartig-Perschke

Hamburg, Germany

System Properties and the Explanatory Power of Social Mechanisms – A Communication-Oriented Approach

Among the various concepts, schemes and models sociological theory offers for the explanation of social emergence, there are only a few that have been widely embraced, even by approaches and paradigms that are usually recognized as exclusive and adverse. One of these concepts is the idea of generative and explanatory mechanisms (Hedström/Swedberg 1998), first introduced by Small (1905), Merton (1949/1968), and Karlsson (1958). The paper reflects the current use of the concept in the wider context of social systems theory and communication theory with a special focus on the possibilities it offers to explain the structural dynamics of communication and the emergence of

system properties. Social mechanisms are recurring processes, i.e. procedures and practices that reliably generate certain associations between certain social situations. Reconstructing their structural dynamic, they can be redefined as sociological mechanisms that explain why particular “set-up conditions” usually lead to specific “termination conditions” (Machamer, Darden, Craver 2000). Following Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory (Luhmann 1984) and Andrew Abbott’s relational approach to social theory (Abbott 2001), mechanisms are defined as communicative procedures and distinct types of reference structures between communicative events and sequences. Focussing on the fields of mass media and public online-communication as areas of application and political scandals as subject matter, the paper shows (1) how the reproduction of conflicts between discourse communities, (2) the indication of assumed intersubjectivity, (3) the emergence of closed semantic fields, and (4) the redistribution of social visibility contribute to the reproduction of social norms and system properties.

Kornelia Hauser

Innsbruck, Austria

Pragmatism and critical Social Theory

In my perception the revival of Pragmatism (a first reception took place in the 20ies of the 20th century) on the left wing theoretical side has a lot to do with the social conditions or better: with the social change of society. We find totally new structures of economical,

First I will give a short overview of the german critical theory misunderstanding of American thoughts. Then I will review some raw ideas of the new condition of capitalism. Finally I will discuss why pragmatism would be an excellent framework for a better understanding.







Interdependence and participation – the foundations of inclusion – are corroding followed by individual isolation and forms of poverty.

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