Subjectivity and Human Rights: A Theoretical Investigation

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: Booth 46
Oral Presentation
Paola REBUGHINI , Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
In spite of an enduring attention for ethics and morality, the interest of sociology for human rights is recent, although lively and prolific. Power, violence, domination, the idea that “Whoever says 'humanity' wants to betray” (Carl Schmitt), have been at the core of critical sociology much more than the analysis of subject’s capability to struggle for human rights through social movements and everyday personal choices. Hence, not only positivistic tendencies have brought to mistrust towards the issue of rights, but critical and emancipative sociology as well – from Frankfurt School, to Foucault, Bourdieu and others – has been sceptical towards the topic of human rights. Indeed, a sociology of human rights is related not only to ethics, social justice and social inclusion, citizenship rights and critique of discriminations, but also to a sociology of the acting subject. A full sociological understanding of the issue of human rights needs as well a reflection on subjectivity in a pluralist, multicultural and globalized society. After a philosophical phase during which the concepts of subject and subjectivity have been criticized, deconstructed, reduced to the immanence of situated practices, the rise of the issue of human rights in the international sociological debate and in social movement studies highlights again the centrality of the problem of subjectivity (and humanity) in social theory. The aim of this presentation is to analyse the connections between contemporary sociology of human rights’ movements and sociology of subjectivity.