From Macrosociology to an Experiential Critique of Global Modernity

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Oliver KOZLAREK, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás, Mexico
From macrosociology to an experiential critique of global modernity

In recent years the concept of modernity has been criticized as the ideological keystone of Eurocentrism. It is suspected that it hinders sociology and the social sciences in general to move away from colonial and post-colonial structures of knowledge production, and that it reproduces narratives that reaffirm European superiority. Although I consider this criticism as absolutely necessary I content that it is valid only for certain uses and discursive practices—above all those that can be found in many examples of the so-called "theories of modernization".

Contemporary debates about modernity could already be seen as important correctives. They do not only tackle the problems of Eurocentrism and methodological nationalism, but they also turn away from using "modernity" as a teleological normative concept. Instead, they see in it a conceptual tool that allows to address the global entanglement of human affairs from multiple perspectives.

However, as macrosociological theories they still presuppose the existance of clearly defined patterns of modernity that can take different shapes and colors, but that do not change substantially.

In my paper I content that more attention must be paid additionally to concrete experiences that people in different parts of the world have made with and within global modernity. In order to account for these experiences it would be necessary to complement the examination of macrosociological parameter with a philological reading of cultural texts that include sociological and philosophical theories, but are not limited to them. Such a "close reading" will reveal the complexity of experiences lived in different parts of the world, but also the production of  multiple "imaginaries", "critiques" but also "project" of modernity. In my paper I will discuss some Latin American examples.