A New Crisologie after 2008? Crises and Cognitive Autonomy

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:10 AM
Room: Booth 68
Oral Presentation
Marcos GONZALEZ-HERNANDO , Sociology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
This paper is an attempt to address Morin’s (1968) plea for a sociology of crisis, focusing particularly on the issues of the sociology of time and intellectual change from the vantage point of intellectual responses to a crisis.

Most current sociology characterizes our epoch as one of incessant acceleration, which precludes social agents from being able to weave a lasting narration where to situate their life-worlds in the context of an ever-changing society. This insight brings together thinkers as diverse as Rosa, Sennett, Bauman and Castells. 

Nonetheless, when moments of heightened uncertainty occur and faced with a context of pressing time – the classical definition of crisis as a turning point, from the Greek krino (to cut, to select, to judge) – narrations do frequently appear, for without a minimum of foreseeability, action is impossible and the future unbearably contingent. 

If, precisely at the moment in which narrations are the most unstable we need them ever more urgently, we face a tension where the role of intellectuals becomes fundamental. Already Gramsci had acknowledged this. Furthermore, as Morin had already argued, intellectual reactions to a crisis are in no way readily predictable, for they raise forcefully the issue of the justification of normality. This might even mean the ascent of ‘regressive’ responses to a crisis – plagued with dualisms – or a newfound sense of complexity. 

From this starting is that I attempt to weave together the tension between cognitive autonomy and narration after critical events. I argue that in order to fathom intellectual change and crisis, sociology must meet at least two characteristics: First, it must understand cognitive autonomy as a relational (not absolute) characteristic of intellectual actors and second, it must be particularly attentive to the issue of time in a self-reflecting way; i.e. it must become a “temporalised” sociology.