Sociological Inquiries into the Concept of Crisis

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM-12:20 PM
Room: Booth 68
RC35 Conceptual and Terminological Analysis (host committee)

Language: English

Crisis has become a ubiquitous term to describe a widening array of facets of our contemporary societies. Nonetheless, what we mean by it is frequently vague and opaque. When we claim a particular situation is one of ‘crisis’, we make an underlying statement on a distance from ‘normality’ that might allow the enactment of profound and transformative actions that are unthinkable in other circumstances. That process, paradoxically, habitually comes accompanied with a recognition of the limits of our understanding. Crises thus point at the junction between knowledge and politics, and the way they are publicly tackled often involves moral and ethical considerations that confront us with essential aspects of our world. Different modes and accounts of crises, in this sense, also help delineate the contours of the social time in which we dwell: for instance, as part of a cycle and thus finite (e.g. in neoclassical economic theory), as trials of our resoluteness (e.g. in wartime discourse) or more fundamentally to the end of our social world (as in eschatology). Hence what is telling about ‘crisis’ is not only the situation this word describes, but also the effects it has on it, especially and precisely when we are faced with the limits of our knowledge. Acknowledging that this process is profoundly subjective, the aim of this session is to shed a light onto the implications of the use of the concept of crisis within sociology and elsewhere. Exploring the intersections between crisis and time, narrative, uncertainty and knowledge, we expect to contribute to Edgar Morin’s appeal for the foundation of a discipline of crisologie, clarifying what this concept reveals and obscures when uttered -ever more frequently– to describe a rapidly changing world.
Session Organizer:
Marcos GONZALEZ-HERNANDO, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Dietmar J. WETZEL, University of Bern, Switzerland
Historically Determined Apocalypse: The Struggle of Accents in a Time Born of Crisis (Oral Presentation)
Colin CREMIN, University of Auckland, New Zealand

A New Crisologie after 2008? Crises and Cognitive Autonomy (Oral Presentation)
Marcos GONZALEZ-HERNANDO, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom