Rethinking the Theory of Social Becoming: For a Humanistic Turn

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: 304
Distributed Paper
Sergey KRAVCHENKO , Sociological Department, Moscow State University of International Relations, Moscow, Russia
According to P. Sztompka (Society in Action: A Theory of Social Becoming. Cambridge, 1991), the modern world is in a state of becoming that occurs in the context of unfinished structural and functional development.  As a result social and cultural traumas  lead to different ambivalences, clashes within a culture. He worked out a new type of sociological imagination the essence of which is reflexive thinking about social becoming.

Since that time the socium has become even hypercomplex: there appeared  “normal accidents” (Ch. Perrow), climate change as well as new risks, vulnerabilities and social turbulences produced  by human agency (J. Urry, U, Beck). Taking into consideration these realities of new catastrophism I ague  for a ‘humanistic turn’ in sociology, whereby societies should be examined through the patterns and character of their complexity-dependence and human agency-consequences. This implies still a newer type of sociological imagination based on the synthesis of social, hard and humane sciences. The methodological instruments of this type of  sociological imagination include both non-linear  and  humanistic aspects. Thus, I propose a non-linear and humanistic sociological imagination that deals with the acceleration of socio-cultural dynamics and glocalization (R. Robertson), synergetically takes into consideration paradoxes, risks, and dispersions of socium, searching for new forms of humanism, based on men’s existential needs. The notion ‘praxis’ should be rediscovered: it should mean humane praxis - humanistic creative agency, the main aim of which is to preserve the human capital of all the generations and to maintain the balance between scientific, technological innovations and key environmental processes.