Debating Civilizations: Sociology and The Inter-Disciplinary Field Of Civilizations Analysis

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:50 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Jeremy SMITH , Education and arts, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Australia
In the early twentieth century, civilizations analysis combined perspectives from anthropology to archaeology through to world history. Founding thinkers in sociology contributed greatly to this inter-disciplinary field. In a phase that stretched from Weber, Durkheim and Mauss to Sorokin and Elias, a ‘classical era’ of civilizations analysis generated a program of research problems that was productive in critical and multidisciplinary ways and limited in scope and vision in others. The field was lost as a suppressed tradition during the postwar institutionalization of disciplines. This paper will examine what was gained for sociology in the early traditions of civilizations analysis as well as what was displaced when it subsided. Potential paths for renewal of multidisciplinary scholarship involving sociology will be sketched out based on the contemporary experiences of neo-Weberian revival of civilizations analysis in the work of Benjamin Nelson and S.N Eisenstadt. The paper will also identify intrinsic limitations in latter-day approaches.