Forget Modernity? Social Theory Anew

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Kathya ARAUJO, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile
The discussion about the pertinence of social theory’s core concepts – individualization, bureaucratization, commodification and secularization, among others – directly leads to the problem of the analytical place Modernity took in the construction of this field of knowledge. Modernity, as a historical process and as a source of an ensemble of conceptual tools, assumed an exceptional (and problematic) normative character as long as it was used as a reference for comparison, an ideal measure of value judgments, and a hegemonic analytical model in social sciences. Concepts which were created departing from the socio-historical humus of Western societies, that is the structural, normative and interactional solutions found for the problem of living together by this group of societies, have worked and continue to do so, as frameworks for the understanding of other social realities. Thus, despite the fact that those solutions should be seen as a contingent outcome of a particular historical path, they have been offered as general models due to their construction as abstract concepts.  The awareness of this fact has led scholars to question this construction and has given new momentum to comparative and historical sociology. Despite the criticism developed by these approaches, nevertheless, they have kept Modernity as a reference and on the horizon. Departing from empirical studies focused on Individualization processes in the so-called central and non central societies, the aim of this paper is to discuss critically the current scope of the concept of Individualization and in so doing to question the methodological pertinence of using Modernity as a basis for comparative sociology, which might be considered currently a privileged source for theorizing.