Global Social Theory: Towards Inclusivity

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 12:45
Oral Presentation
Sujata PATEL, University of Hyderabad, India, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, India
This paper examines the way the social movement for global social theory is being reframed in contemporary social sciences. It suggests that both colonialism and nationalism played a major part in theory building. Today contemporary globalisation processes have inaugurated a new phase. In this context how do global social theory not repeat the journey taken in late 18th and 19th centuries?

It assesses this argument by examining the sociological traditions of India wherein social theory was articulated in context of colonialism. Social theory in India remained embedded in anthropological theory and methods because colonialism divided the disciplines of sociology and anthropology into two-one studied the modern world (Europe, North America) and the other the pre-modern traditional word Colonial countries). While there was an effort to confront this divide in order to constitute an interdisciplinary perspective, in India, as in other ex-colonial countries, the nationalist interrogation of colonialism did not completed erase the episteme that organised social theory; rather it allowed for the continuity of colonialist positions within methodological nationalism.

Contemporary globalisation has raised theoretical challenges to this legacy and questioned various nationalist positions in practise both in the Global North and Global South. However because the globe remains unipolar dominated by the countries and regions characterised by the Global North as it did in late 18th and 19th centuries, it is possible that there might be a trend towards reconstituting the late 18th and 19th century episteme of social theory in the 21st century.

In this circumstances, it is imperative to ask how global social theory can be both universal and particular expressing concerns for the entire world and yet engaging with local, regional and national issues. The paper suggests the need for creating a new inclusive language of diversity built on relational ontological differences.