The Contemplative Turn in Sociological Imagination

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 55
Oral Presentation
Vincenzo GIORGINO , University of Torino, Torino, Italy
In my presentation I will address some epistemological and theoretical aspects related to the integration between sociological and contemplative methods. The latter are social practices originating from the wisdom traditions of human culture, mainly from the religious and spiritual backgrounds. Their recent secularization (going back to the 70s) enables non-experts to achieve specific knowledge skills. The most successful attempt in this translation is currently found in the so called mindfulness programs, oriented to integrate the biomedical approach and nurturing the subfield of the so called integrative or behavioural medicine; it has also found a positive reception in psychological therapy. Through the 80s and 90s they constituted a growing bulk of research, recently testified by the birth of the scientific journal Mindfulness, not to mention its growing influence in education and management, especially in the literature about learning organizations.

My aim is to focus on the conceptual background in which such kinds of integrative programs can be developed in social sciences, outlining some implications for transformative sociology as well. The core discussion is focused on the re-definition of experienceself and action, taking into account an established tradition of first-person inquiry and narrative research.

From my point of view, the attempt to set up such an integration calls for an enactive approach: via introducing an embodied and interactional perspective, it challenges the dominant representational model of knowledge. In this direction, it could also be of help in broadening and reshaping what we intend by change, contributing to a pragmatic “social transformation from within” and alleviate social suffering.

In my intention, this transdisciplinary effort aims to help at disentangling some crucial sociological concerns and contributes to an experiential, post-constructivist model.