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Uttaran Dutta and Judith N. Martin’s chapter identifies influential sociological concepts and methods across various paradigmatic approaches, including the influential concept of Simmel’s ‘stranger’ as well as the contributions of European critical sociologists (e.g. Habermas, Foucault). In particular, this chapter is a plea for more attention to the ‘silent zones’ in intercultural communication research – the geographical and conceptual gaps in current scholarship. It identifies historically under-researched topics (e.g., hidden/forbidden cultural practices, posthumanism) and addresses issues of socioeconomic and structural disparities particularly in the ‘silent zones’ of the Global South region. The aim is to incorporate community authorship, alternate wisdoms and, ultimately, facilitate meaningful societal changes towards plurality, sustainability and the ecology of culture and languages.
In this chapter, I trace the late-nineteenth-century sociological equivalent to the idea of tensional individuality, demonstrating that this notion formed part of early foundational reflections in the discipline. I do this by reconstructing the considerations of individuality of French sociologist Gabriel Tarde. On the one hand, Tarde promoted an image of the so-called ‘somnambulistic myself’, the notion that the individual is multiplicitous and that every person is constituted through the mimetic influences of others. On the other, Tarde maintained that this somnambulistic constitution of the individual co-exists with an anti-mimetic core: elements that persist despite external mimetic influence. What transpires out of this is, I posit, a conception of tensional individuality – one that, in contrast to the psychotherapy discussions detailed in Chapter 1, is then placed at the centre of early sociological thinking. The chapter identifies its relevance in a broader theoretical landscape stretching from fin-de-siècle philosophy to twentieth-century psychology. The chapter also discusses Tarde’s disputes with Emile Durkheim about the role and nature of sociology. I argue here that the supposed antagonism between Durkheim and Tarde is overblown and that the two found common ground on several important issues.
This chapter concludes Culture and Order in World Politics. It summarizes the book’s central claims, and it considers two implications. It begins by explaining the contribution that the book can make beyond the discipline of international relations, and what it offers for the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, and law, in particular. It then considers the implications of the book’s argument for thinking about contemporary problems of international order.
In this chapter I show that it is possible to identify across a range of different thinkers a shared analytical investment in collective behaviour that allows one to distil the notion of social avalanches or social avalanching. The fundamental claim I make is that Durkheim, Simmel, Tarde and many others sought to respond to an experience that gained particular prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: various forms of social change increasingly produced situations in which individuals felt the ground disappearing beneath them, carrying them away in a collective turbulence which, once set in motion, acquired its own self-organising properties. In addition to developing the notion of social avalanching from late-nineteenth-century social theory, this chapter explores the prosocial character of avalanches. Elaborating on the concept of social avalanching, I examine the extent to which a metaphor such as ‘avalanche’ merits inclusion in the realm of proper sociological concepts and connect it to discussions within physics about self-organised criticality. Finally, I discuss the notion of social avalanching in relation to social action as conceived in the sociology of Max Weber.
This chapter focuses on financial markets and how these markets have enjoyed close ties to cities. It also demonstrates that social avalanches and tensional individuality have played a central role in how financial markets work and are conceived. I discuss this by examining the historical design of the trading floors of stock and commodity exchanges, introduced to avoid emergence within these exchanges of the avalanching of metropolitan life, as well as contrarian investment advice, which suggested techniques for how to avoid the avalanching properties of markets, techniques that ultimately subscribed to a tensional notion of individuality. The chapter also discusses more recent market developments such as the increasing computerisation of financial markets. I focus on the rise of algorithmic finance, in which fully automated computer algorithms are behind the majority of activity in financial markets. Through a discussion of the Flash Crash that took place in US markets in May 2010, I argue that fully automated algorithms may engage in social avalanching, meaning that sociality can indeed be ascribed to non-human algorithms.
This chapter sets out the central argument of Culture and Order in World Politics. It provides definitions of cultural diversity and international order, and makes the case for an expansive conception of the latter. It then revisits four key propositions from Reus-Smit’s On Cultural Diversity (2018), on which this volume builds. It goes on to detail four elaborations of these propositions, informed by the analyses provided in contributors’ chapters. These concern the productive power of diversity regimes, the connection between cultural diversity and legitimacy crises, the complex relationship between political centralization and intolerance, and the plural and multiscalar nature of diversity regimes.
This chapter examines cities and urban life from the perspective of social avalanches and tensional individuality. I discuss the ways in which contemporary sociologists and other commentators on nineteenth-century urbanisation saw modern cities as constituting the optimal habitat for the emergence and rapid diffusion of contagious ideas. Several argued that in the metropolis one’s immunity against corrupt ideas is constantly weakened, paving the way for contagion dynamics that could escalate into social avalanches carrying urban inhabitants away in collective frenzy. I also show how sociologists examined metropolitan life as wedded to a notion of tensional individuality: in the city, the individual is at once exposed to a bombardment of external mimetic forces which threaten to undermine individuality and is characterised by an anti-mimetic core which works to counteract such external influences. Finally, the chapter argues that many of the concerns that sociologists expressed concerning late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century cities were shared by architects and urban planners at the time. Their contemplations led to a series of design proposals: suggestions for urban planning believed to eliminate the problem of social avalanching in cities and minimise the mimetic component of urban individuality.
This chapter introduces the book, Culture and Order in World Politics. After explaining the problems with current perspectives on cultural diversity and international order, it stresses the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue, and the book’s ambition to move debate forward through an engagement between international relations, anthropology, sociology, history, and international law. It summarizes the main arguments of the book, explains its organization, and overviews the contributions of the contributors’ chapters.
This chapter looks at law at an abstract level and the fundamental questions of ‘What is law?’ and ‘Why have laws?’ are explored by discussing the functions and concepts of law. This chapter examines the macro and micro functions of law, as well as the major perspectives of law including natural law, legal positivism, sociology of law and critical legal theory. It concludes by exploring various classifications of legal systems and the way in which the law is divided within them, such as the difference between the common law and civil law systems, national and international law, substantive and procedural law, and public and private law.
The chapter presents Bergson as an underacknowledged yet first-rate social theorist, demonstrating that in Two Sources Bergson is in extensive, albeit implicit, dialogue with his two great predecessors in the tradition -Émile Durkheim and Auguste Comte - and that his encounter with them turns on three questions at the heart of sociology as a unique field of inquiry: first, what binds people together in society? second, what is the origin of society? and third, what is the nature of social change? By working through Bergson’s engagement with these key authors and themes, the chapter presents Bergson’s own original theory of society and sociability, which, as with all his work, centers on creativity, but this time in connection with personal and collective transformation.
As a response to an ageing population, and to benefit from senior citizens’ resources and improve their quality of life, European countries are increasingly engaging older volunteers in the old-age sector and care environments. Older Danes’ participation in volunteer work is high; however, nursing home residents and home care recipients are typically not part of these initiatives as volunteers, but as the receivers of volunteer care. We investigate an initiative that engages frail older people as volunteer language teachers for foreigners learning Danish in an endeavour to utilise their resources as volunteers and to engage the language teachers socially. Through participant observations and semi-structured interviews with older volunteers, Danish-language students and care personnel, we explore what constitutes good social relationships in this specific initiative, how these relationships are created and the kind of subject that appears through Elderlearn. We are inspired by the sociology of attachment as we describe how frail older people emerge as engaged subjects by becoming reattached to their life histories, interests, abilities and relational skills. In this regard, good social relationships surpass the immediate volunteer–recipient bond and create a ‘blurry volunteering’ with less distinct divisions of who gives and who receives. This generates constructive relationships created through interlinguistic competences, international consciousness, and use of materials, objects and the local community. We argue that this arrangement reattaches the language teachers to their life histories, thereby enabling the emergence of a different kind of international and engaged old-age subjectivity.
In a context of hyper-diversity and social polarisation, it has been suggested that public parks constitute crucial arenas in which to safeguard deliberative democracy and foster social relations that bind loosely connected strangers. Drawing on empirical research, we offer a more circumspect and nuanced understanding of the – nonetheless vital – role that parks can play in fostering civic norms that support the capacity for living with difference. As ‘spaces apart’, parks have distinctive atmospheres that afford opportunities for convivial encounters in which ‘indifference to difference’ underpins ‘openness to otherness’. As places in which difference is rendered routine and unremarkable, the potency of parks for social cohesion derives from fleeting and unanticipated interactions and the weak ties they promote, rather than strong bonds of community that tend to solidify lines of cultural differentiation. Both by design and unintentionally, regulation and law can serve to foster or constrain the conditions that sustain conviviality.
Chapter 9 describes the revolt at the University Institute of Social Sciences at Trento. It demonstrates the importance of protest about Vietnam in the first closure of the Institute. I argue that in the course of the revolt, the students discovered themselves as passive subjects of the university system and sought to reinvent themselves as active subjects via protest. In the third occupation at the Faculty of Sociology at Trento, they developed a charter of demands that sought to create structural spaces within the university and perpetuate the student movement without integrating it within the university. The protest movement successfully paralysed the Institute of Sociology without managing to impose itself, until the contestation spread to the Catholic Church in the Anti-Lent of 1968 which, although it culminated in the successful transformation of the institute, nonetheless left the protest movement with a question of what direction it should take.
Chapter 2 analyses the meaning of sociology in the 1960s. It traces the creation of the sociology degree in France, West Germany and Italy, and describes in detail the origins of the University Institute of Social Sciences in Trento. The chapter describes the first occupations in Trento over the discipline of sociology. The chapter shows how technocrats and modernisers envisaged in sociology a discipline that would provide managerial staff to administer and control social change. Students, however, most frequently chose sociology as a discipline that embodied a critical vision of contemporary society, personal emancipation and political change. I argue that this conflict explains the centrality of sociology to the revolts of 1968.
This chapter recasts the intellectual history of US sociology as a reception study of the poems of Walt Whitman, focusing on “Song of Myself.” Prominent early sociologists such as Robert Ezra Park and Daniel Brinton engaged Whitman under the banner of “social science.” They recirculated poetic extracts to illuminate the range of issues – from mass media and crowd psychology to race relations and urban studies – that became the foci of modern sociology. As the fledgling discipline probed for new conceptual models of social development in a modern, secular age, this professionalizing, reform-minded class of social scientists employed nineteenth-century verse to explicate twentieth-century social theory. More than most, Whitman’s poetry, which demanded empathy as well as observation, furnished the vocabulary for a compassionate, impartial, and distinctively American sociology.
It is widely recognized among state leaders and diplomats that personal relations play an important role in international politics. Recent work at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and sociology has highlighted the critical importance of face-to-face interactions in generating intention understanding and building trust. Yet, a key question remains as to why some leaders are able to ‘hit it off,’ generating a positive social bond, while other interactions ‘fall flat,’ or worse, are mired in negativity. To answer, we turn to micro-sociology – the study of everyday human interactions at the smallest scales – an approach that has theorized this question in other domains. Drawing directly from US sociologist Randall Collins, and related empirical studies on the determinants of social bonding, we develop a model of diplomatic social bonding that privileges interaction elements rather than the dispositional characteristics of the actors involved or the material environment in which the interaction takes place. We conclude with a discussion of how the study of interpersonal dyadic bonding interaction may move forward.
This chapter focuses on Aron’s interpretation of Montesquieu and Tocqueville and his influential self-description as their ‘belated descendant’ in his book Main Currents of Sociological Thought. It argues, firstly, that in this book Aron’s invention of a ‘French school of political sociology’ represented by these liberal forbears was part of wider efforts among sociologists to rewrite their discipline’s history at a time when it was becoming unprecedentedly popularised and institutionalised. It shows that the decline of Durkheimian hegemony at this juncture had opened up a consensus gap between French sociologists, some of whom - including Aron - responded by rewriting the discipline’s past to legitimate their competing visions of its future. The chapter also shows how Aron read Montesquieu and Tocqueville through the lens of his earlier philosophical writings in an attempt to revise the epistemological basis of his political thought. Ironically, this project was substantially indebted to previous readings of Montesquieu and Tocqueville by some of the same Durkheimian colleagues against whom Aron defined himself and the ‘French school of political sociology’ in Main Currents.