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

João Howell Pato

Lisbon, Portugal

From Public Goods to Public Policies: sociology without concepts? (cancelled)

The absence of sociological theorization and conceptualization on public goods is an intriguing issue in contemporary Sociology. The relevance of the concept first became evident when public property regimes and public provision of goods were addressed (water & sanitation, education, defense, etc.): for its collective value, some goods should be excluded from private property, and this principle was first adopted in Roman Law. Nineteenth century public economists, trying to achieve efficiency in public finance, became

When national governments assumed the need to integrate private stakeholders and citizens in general on the larger framework of public policy making (especially after the 1970’s), trying to induce behavioral changes (individual or collective), some sociological perspectives emerged. Mancur Olson’s work is probably the first, and still the most acclaimed piece of sociological theory on the field, claiming that group size and communication

are

key

variables

in

understanding

collective

management of goods. Since Olson’s work, research

trends

have

developed

towards

multidisciplinary

frameworks,

but

sociological

theorization

is

still

residual, despite recognition of sociological variables as

interested

on

the

concept.

Therefore,

we

find

key variables.

systematic conceptual approaches in both disciplines, as well as subsequent mainstream research lines (public choice theory, welfare economics, public policy analysis, etc.).

We

intend

to

give

insight

on

conceptual

/

methodological perspectives when it comes to introduce sociological variables into analytical frameworks designed for public policy analysis. This effort might also contribute to the preliminary definition of public goods as a sociological concept.

Seppo Poutanen

Turku, Finland

Finland: an outpost for critical neopragmatism to settle their score

realism and

In the European context of recent developments in social theory, critical realism, and Rortian and Joasian

neopragmatism can be

considered two, or possibly

three,

important

and

reorganising

social

competing research,

programs starting

for from

metatheoretical basis. It has become obvious that there is no discussion or argumentation that could be labelled as ‘European’, concerning the relative merits and flaws

In this presentation I will review the current pattern of discussion between more or less self-confessed critical realists and neopragmatists in the Finnish context. My research material consists of a number of recent journal articles and book chapters published under the title of sociology or social theory. By analysing structure and content of arguments – and textual strategies used - in the material I will first outline the Finnish case of setting critical realism and neopragmatism against each other, and then discuss if any general lessons might be drawn from this case.

of these programs, nationally embedded

but more generally, various traditions in the philosophy of

social sciences, social theory and social research in

different

countries

have

significantly

shaped

the

discussion. Thus, it is no accident that critical realism, for example, has won remarkably strong support in Great Britain compared to social theory (and its metatheory) pursued in most other European countries, new member countries of EU included.

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