Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-sz752 Total loading time: 0.455 Render date: 2023-02-07T06:46:07.463Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

12 - The Promise of Pragmatic Sociology, Human Rights, and the State

from Part VI - Luc Boltanski and Political Sociology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2014

Kate Nash
Affiliation:
Cambridge University Press
Get access

Summary

Introduction

As a sociologist working in the emerging area of the sociology of human rights, I find the approach that Luc Boltanski and his various collaborators take to cultural, moral, and political questions inspiring. There is an urgent need to develop theoretical concepts and methodologies to study human rights, which have been growing in importance as a result of the activities of transnational advocacy networks, digital communication, and the codification and enactment of international law since the end of the Cold War (see Nash, 2012). What resources do human rights offer for the critique of injustices? Are human rights contributing to imagining solidarity beyond borders? How do we study what difference human rights make to existing social forms – for good or for ill? Pragmatic sociology, with its emphasis on the importance of principles of justice as intrinsic to social life, is an attractive starting point for exploring such questions. Breaking with perspectives in which social life is seen as structured by violence, self-interest, or habit, which all too easily and automatically position human rights as nothing but neo-liberal imperialist ideology, pragmatic sociology opens up the study of disputes, uncertainty, and socially embedded moral argument in ways that can only be promising. Boltanski's groundbreaking book Distant Suffering (1999 [1993]) is itself a landmark contribution to the field, although it focuses on humanitarianism and responses to suffering, rather than on principles of justice and human rights. It was Distant Suffering that first led me to Boltanski's work (Nash, 2008). Reading further, however, it is striking that Boltanski has written nothing explicitly on human rights, despite the concerns of pragmatic sociology with contemporary questions of justice.

In this chapter, I reflect on the value of Boltanski's work on everyday justice and injustices. I also question his neglect of the study of principles of human rights, arguing that it is not just an empirical lack but that, in addition, it has serious consequences for the development of his theoretical framework.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Spirit of Luc Boltanski
Essays on the 'Pragmatic Sociology of Critique'
, pp. 351 - 368
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×