In What Ways Can Comparative–Historical Sociology Help to Improve the Workings of the Modern World?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00-10:30
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
WG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology (host committee)

Language: English

In its origins, sociology was comparative–historical sociology. It no longer is. In the modern neoliberal university, money flows to present-centred (or “hodiecentric”) research, which politicians, policy-makers and administrators believe to be useful – a belief which a large proportion of mainstream sociologists find it advantageous to share. Both sides may also share the common belief that, because the modern/postmodern/digital/globalised world is changing and is so new in character, studying the past is irrelevant: as Henry Ford put it so pithily at a pivotal stage in industrialisation, “History is bunk”.  
Contemporary data-accumulating research is not without value, but it is not sufficient: contributions are invited reflecting on how sound comparative-historical knowledge of human society has the capacity to improve the human means of orientation and possibly to improve political decision-making.  
A few well-known quotations may help to bring this question into focus:  
“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.” (Cicero)  
“People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” (Edmund Burke)
“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana)  
And finally, Tony Blair, the British politician responsible for some of the most catastrophic decisions of the early twentieth century, once said – with the advantage of hindsight on his career – that he wished he had read history rather than law at Oxford.
Session Organizer:
Stephen MENNELL, University College Dublin, Ireland
Comparative-Historical Sociology As Professional Practice
Eric Royal LYBECK, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
National Habitus and the State Formation Process in Scotland
Alex LAW, Abertay University, United Kingdom
Difficulties of the EU As a Common Object for Identification
Behrouz ALIKHANI, Reserch fellow at the Institute for Sociology, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany, Germany
WHAT CAN WE Learn about Financial Crisis with Norbert Elias?
Fernando AMPUDIA DE HARO, CIES-IUL, Portugal
Learning from the Past: Urban Ways to Reduce the Daily Complexity in Economic Practices
Nina BAUR, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany; Linda HERING, Technische Universitat Berlin, Germany