Between the Centre and the Periphery: The Beginnings of Sociology in Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 14:30
Oral Presentation
Dusan JANAK, Silesian University in Opava, Czech Republic
The paper describes the main results of a longer-term research effort of the author concerned with the history of sociology in Central Europe before the Second World War. The paper discusses elementary methodological issues associated with applying a comparative perspective to the research into both institutional and discursive environment of the science in Central Europe and focuses on three thematic areas. Firstly, it summarizes the main steps towards institutionalization of sociology in Central Europe before the Second World War with respect to four areas of institutionalization: university courses, scholarly societies, journals and research institutions. It makes a distinction between institutionalization implemented "from above" (dominating in Central Europe) and that advanced "from below" (predominant in western countries). In its second part the paper compares - based on the results of content analysis of specialist periodicals - the topics dominating respective national sociologies and their sociological rendering in relation to the contemporary social and intellectual context. In order to characterise the position of Central European sociology in relation to world sociology, it uses a concept of sociological "semi-periphery." The third part of the paper draws attention to the still valid elements in the general sociological theory of some Central European sociologists. As opposed to the results of empirical researches which represent a sociological archaism today, and unlike the research on institutionalization which involves social and historical mapping of the science history, the general sociological theory remains that part of the research in which the findings of the classics of sociology can still be applied in present-day research.