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SOCIAL THEORY and the Sociological Discipline(s) - page 34 / 44





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

Roland Robertson

Aberdeen, Scotland

Glocality and the Transdisciplinarity of Sociology

We are currently in a crucial mutational phase of disciplinarity, at the center of which is sociology and social/cultural theory. To a small extent this situation constitutes an extension of the writings of Comte, but "Comte without the positivism." Comte's positivism depended upon a unified conception of humanity and it is the latter which is addressed in this paper, without the suggestion that positivism necessarily follows from a universalistic view of humanity. The principal area of study which connects the focus upon humanity (as well as post-humanity) to contemporary social science and

other disciplines is that of so-called globalization. This paper investigates the ways in which there is a global convergence across numerous sciences and disciplines. At the same time, what are often called national sociologies should be regarded as variations upon cross-national and cross-cultural boundaries. The concept of glocalization is employed as a form of interrogating the relationship between methodological nationalism and a more universalistic type of sociology. Methodological glocalism is advocated as a way in which national and/or indigenous styles of sociology should be regarded as a form of the inclusion of a variety of sociological practices in a rapidly globalizing world, one which is potentially dialogically pluralistic.

Steffen Roth

Bern, Switzerland

truth against power, power against money, money



But the

idea of exchange


Bringing Society Back in Market - Why Market Sociology is No Segment of Economic Sociology






capital theory, and innovation re-search give evidence of the existence of non-economic markets. Following the tradition of Luhmannian sociology the paper develops a trans-economic concept of the Markets of Society including political, scientific, esthetic, religious, and further markets, as well. Given this multitude of markets, the paper sketches a research program focused on the analysis of forms and functions of (non- )economic markets as well as on the exchange rates between the very: How is belief charged against truth,

fluctuations between money, power and truth is not the only surprise resulting from a systemic multi-market approach: If we can conceive both the existence of non- economic markets of society and the idea of exchange rates between the very, then market sociology cannot be treated as an exclusive segment of economic sociology, anymore. Thus, the paper finally promotes the idea of discussing Market Sociology as an independent segment of sociology.

Philip Selznick

Berkeley, USA

Sociology as a ‘Moral Science’

In this paper I accept Durkheim’s claim that sociology is what he called a “moral science.” Durkheim sought objective criteria –“inherent in the facts themselves”--for distinguishing a healthy social body from one that is diseased or morally impoverished. Durkheim’s ideas contributed to the ethos of positivism, which has done much to undermine a commitment to human and moral well-being. We need to reaffirm that commitment to sociology as a “moral science” without abandoning the spirit of naturalism or the method of science.

Positivism asks us to accept a false and pernicious dichotomy between normative and descriptive theory, between facts and values. But by studying major components of social life including communication,

authority, rationality, justice and culture, sociology becomes a disciplined empirical and theoretical study of the prevalence and fate of values. The result is a reunion of moral philosophy and social science.

The study of qualitative variations requires both theoretical sophistication and empirical investigation of kinds, contexts and contingencies. Such investigations


facts, that is, latent or emergent values in

social experience. These values provide the foundation for the formation of standards and ideals by which to evaluate the social conditions that help realize those values or subvert them. It is this criticism in the light of values and ideals that makes sociology a “moral science.”

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