Sociologiens første århundrede - og det næste

  • Göran Therborn


The First Century of Sociology - and the Next Sociology got many of its first institutions just one century ago - important and still existing journals and departments of sociology were founded in the last de¬cade of the 19th Century. Sociology of the early 20th Century - the period after the classics - was occupied by the origins and rise of capitalism and its evolution and progress. It is important to notice, that all three fundamental conceptions of classical sociology could be, and were, by the classical protagonists themselves, given different meanings and expressed with different accents. The social world was, above all, a world in evolution, a world historically evolved. In this per¬spective, the origins of things socially had an absolutely central place of inte¬rest. The conditions for social relations and how to create and maintain social solidarity were crucial issues among the first generations of sociologists. It was the dynamic of the modernisation pro¬cesses which concerned sociology while its focus was primarily around the soci¬al space of nation-states - its institutions as well as its theoretical approaches were tuned by nationality and were state-bounded. This contrasts strongly with today´s sociology which is globally focusing on variability and communication. By the end of the present century strategy and contingency have replaced evolution and progress as the dominant concepts of sociology. Undestanding and discour¬se seem to be the predominant models of cognition in contemporary sociology. It is in this perspective that social labelling, as a way of grasping and conveying the sense of contemporary world, becomes so central to sociologists of prime-time aspirations. Are we living in post-mo¬dernity, or in reflexive modernity, or perhaps in a second modernity. The repertoire of possible sense-making labels is an indefinite quantity. In this context we would need a critical sociology of bad sociology, and of other bad academic out¬puts, analyzing sloppiness and shallow¬ness as institutional effects, rather than as individual deficiences. Spatially, the practice of sociology has a three-dimensional location - the in¬stitutional space, the stage of performan¬ce and its space of imagination and inve¬stigation. Sociology of this century has been national and European in its approach to the social and society. A global sociology has to turn away from its euro¬centric past and present and to focus mo¬re on global issues such as information technology, capital and social move¬ments analysed in cross-continental perspectives. The paper concludes in a rather optimistic mood emphasizing the huge accummulation of sociological knowledge which has taken place du¬ring its first century. Here can be mentio¬ned recent work on identities - it may be ethnic, sexual or national - studies of in¬stitutionalisation in making political sy¬stems, and new knowledge concerning the dynamics of collective actions and the gendering of social systems as im¬portant achievements which were large¬ly unstated a century ago.