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SOCIAL THEORY and the Sociological Discipline(s) - page 35 / 44





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

Mikhail Sokolov

St. Petersburg, Russia

Why successful “theory groups” do not emerge at the periphery of the academic world-system? The evidence from the Russian case

As many important works in sociology of science demonstrated (e.g. Abbott, Collins, Mullins), the coherent intellectual statements which we call “theories” are inseparable from a form of social organization Mullins named “theory group”. Following this line of reasoning, we can suppose that the wider institutional context can inhibit development of this organizational form and, conversely, stimulate emergence of other types of academic groupings which do not produce theory-like statements. This possibly explains the fact that, in spite of existence of a huge disciplinary community in Russia, no theory enjoying nation-wide renown has emerged their in the last 20 years. The types of organizations which dominate the Russian academic scene are local “schools” (shkoly) with enormous internal cohesion and strong sense of loyalty to their leaders but with marked tendency to avoid

posing their distinctiveness from other “schools” in intellectual terms. It is argued that prevalence of “schools” over “theory groups” results from (1) extremely low mobility of personnel at the academic labor market; (2) scarcity of means of professional communication, dampening down “market for ideas”; (3) general economic shortage, favoring investments into empirical research rendering short-turn monetary return over long-term investments into producing and disseminating theoretical schemata. As these traits are also characteristic of many other societies, we can arguably claim that they are responsible for the phenomenon “academic dependency” theorists try to explain: how does the disciplinary “core” localized in few Western universities maintains its privileged position of producer of theory in the global division of academic labor.

Daniel Šuber

Konstanz, Germany

The traces of philosophy of life in German sociology – towards a neglected affinity

While it is generally assumed that the methodological roots of the social sciences were based on a dualistic conception of science which had been purported by






investigates the influence of Dilthey’s life-philosophical and holistic theory of knowledge on the methodological

works of Mannheim.






concept of Erfahrung in Weber’s Wissenschaftslehre and of Verstehen in Simmels theory of historical knowledge. As can be shown, both concept figured as nodal points which allowed them to overcome the limitations of a neo-kantian frame-work for knowledge foundation. Symptomatically, Weber and Simmel, like Dilthey, arrived at a relationist conception of science and validity. In Karl Mannheim’s epistemology we finally encounter probably the most explicit theory of social scientific knowledge that put itself within the tradition of Diltheyan philosophy of life. In particular manners, Mannheim even radicalised Dilthey’s presuppositions: especially in

Although a few scholars – like J. Weiß (1992) – have expressed the conjecture that Weber and Simmel both followed a similar theoretical strategy in their theoretical foundation of ›verstehende Soziologie‹ as Dilthey in his renowned ›Critique of Historical Reason‹, such a stance have barely been fully legitimized and must still be viewed as a minority view. In order to found this statement, I want to dwell on the prominence of the







substituted with a sociology of knowledge, but also in his concept of dynamic relationism. It can be concluded that Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge translated Dilthey’s general theory of knowledge.

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