Plural Modernities and Post-Western Sociologies : Individuation in Europe and in China

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
In a context of plural modernities we have entered in a period of Post-Westernization of knowledge and coproduction of the construction of situated knowledge. We are in the midst of a “global change” which is distinct from previous changes and their ephemeral nature and which appears to be a turning point in the history of the social sciences. In this communication we will consider the diversity of epistemic injustices and reticular dominations, the emergence of Post-Western sociology through the dialogue between European and Chinese sociologies; finally we will be focused on theoretical continuities and discontinuities between Chinese and European sociologies through the analysis of the process of individuation in Europe and in China. The concept of the individual is not very highly developed in Chinese sociology, whereas it has assumed a central position in European sociologies. On the other hand, various theories of the guanxi have been developed; some Chinese sociologists advance the ‘we’ is produced, on the one hand, by guanxi, which delineate the particular boundaries of the ‘self’ in the construction of the individual, and, on the other hand, by categorisations, identifications and social affiliations.  Over the past 20 years or more, it has been interesting to observe that in European sociology, and particularly French sociology, the contemporary individual, whether he appears uncertain, reflexive or autonomous, lies at the heart of sociological thinking, whereas he is scarcely visible on the Chinese sociological scene. This phenomenon highlights the affirmation of the process of individuation as a process of civilisation – in Norbert Elias’s sense of the term– and shows that, whereas in the past it was social structures that sustained the individual and the level of reflexivity was consistent with the social structure. We would consider discontinuous continuities and continuous discontinuities between Chinese and European sociologies.