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SOCIAL THEORY and the Sociological Discipline(s) - page 30 / 44

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

Paulin Mbecke

Johannesburg, South Africa

Child Abuse in Theoretical Debates: Towards an Integrated Modelled Theory

This paper is based on a PhD thesis on Modelling the Differential Incidence of Child Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in Poor Households in South Africa. The paper acknowledges that, child abuse is one of the disconcerting challenges of our times. It critically looks at various theories that seek to explain child abuse. A theoretical interrogation of these theories acknowledges the merit of and is centred on social and critical theories.

The aim of the thesis is to build a theoretical grounding on understanding child abuse by filling the gaps and shortcomings found in the explanation of child abuse.

The paper argues that the gaps and shortcomings in understanding child abuse are caused by an over- estimation of the individual, structural and societal dynamics from socio-economic factors as the main factors causing child abuse, especially in poor households.

The paper maintains, after a critical analysis of 1800 recorded cases of child abuse, that there is no single theory or model that integrates causal factors from various theories for a clear understanding of child abuse. The findings of the analysis confirm the initial argument of the thesis and suggest an Integrated Modelled Theory (IMT) from which to approach and facilitate a clear understanding of child abuse, neglect and exploitation in poor households.

Kevin McSorley

Portsmouth, UK

Social Theory, Mobility and Immobility

One prominent theme in contemporary sociological analysis has been to emphasize the rise of globally networked processes, movements and flows and the concomitant decline in the significance of modern social and political boundaries. According to this analysis, we n e e d t o t h i n k b e y o n d a f o c u s o n t h e n a t i o n s t a t e , t o whose ‘sociology beyond society’, construct a

conceptual vocabulary is deft enough to track the new economic, cultural and social mobilities, the permanent liquidities, that are the emerging and defining features of the modern cosmopolitan networked world. At the same time, an alternative strand of contemporary

sociological discourse has emphasized sedentariness, enclosure and inertia over movement and change as increasingly important contemporary cultural logics. It has pointed to the proliferation of gated communities, ghettoes, camps and other enclaves, as well as the expansion of technological surveillant assemblages, as expressions of new political logics of securitization and xenophobia. This paper will consider the heterogeneity of these understandings of regimes of (im)mobility as a result of both differences in the phenomena under attention as well as the theoretical traditions drawn upon.

Tamás Meleghy / Heinz-Jürgen Niedenzu Innsbruck, Austria Sociological Theory and Social Innovation

If following the natural sciences modern sociological theory is not able to cope with social innovations. It usually tries to explain the effects of given conditions. Its interest refers to predictable events. Consequently this version of social theory remains unable to explain real discoveries in the field of science, technology or social institutions. In contrast to that the presentation will discuss an evolutionary social theory that refers to the life-sciences instead of the exact sciences. By means of the theory of social evolution actual discoveries can be focused. Social innovations will become understandable. They can be understood as solutions to problems which accommodate consequences that are more or less predictable.

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