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What Use is Sociology Conversations with Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester von Bauman, Zygmunt (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 06.02.2014
  • Verlag: Polity
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What Use is Sociology

What's the use of sociology? The question has been asked often enough and it leaves a lingering doubt in the minds of many. At a time when there is widespread scepticism about the value of sociology and of the social sciences generally, this short book by one of the world's leading thinkers offers a passionate, engaging and important statement of the need for sociology. In a series of conversations with Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester, Zygmunt Bauman explains why sociology is necessary if we hope to live fully human lives. But the kind of sociology he advocates is one which sees 'use' as more than economic success and knowledge as more than the generation of facts. Bauman makes a powerful case for the practice of sociology as an ongoing dialogue with human experience, and in so doing he issues a call for us all to start questioning the common sense of our everyday lives. He also offers the clearest statement yet of the principles which inform his own work, reflecting on his life and career and on the role of sociology in our contemporary liquid-modern world. This book stands as a testimony to Bauman's belief in the enduring relevance of sociology. But it is also a call to us all to start questioning the world in which we live and to transform ourselves from being the victims of circumstance into the makers of our own history. For that, at the end of the day, is the use of sociology. Zygmunt Bauman is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Leeds. His many books have become international bestsellers and have been translated into more than thirty languages. Michael Hviid Jacobsen is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University, Denmark. He has published extensively on issues such as social theory, death and dying, and methodology. Keith Tester is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hull. He has published widely in sociology and is recognised as one of the leading interpreters of the work of Zygmunt Bauman.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 180
    Erscheinungsdatum: 06.02.2014
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9780745679884
    Verlag: Polity
    Größe: 163 kBytes
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What Use is Sociology


What is sociology?

Michael Hviid Jacobsen and Keith Tester Looking back at your own sociological trajectory, your work was initially inspired by Polish sociology in the 1950s and 1960s and after that your immediate sociological environment has been British sociology. How would you – in hindsight – say that these diverse sources of inspiration – Polish and British sociology – have inspired and shaped your own thinking?

Zygmunt Bauman 'Looking back', as you've asked me to, I can hardly spot a watershed or a violent clash of 'sources of inspiration'. Taking off from Poland, I was already set on my sociological travels and landing in Britain did not cause anything like a significant shift in my itinerary. Separated from Poland by a linguistic barrier, 'Polish sociology' seemed a different universe, but please remember that the barrier was one-sided: English was then the 'official' language in sociology's realm and sociologists in Poland read the same books and followed the same caprices of fashion and meanders of interests as their workmates on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Besides, British sociology in the early 1970s was not exactly in the forefront of the worldwide trends, and for a newcomer from the University of Warsaw there was not much to catch onto; indeed, the discoveries made in those years in the British Isles were, in almost every respect, old and sometimes even outdated stuff around the Vistula. Most of the excitements through which my British colleagues were to go in my presence (such as the discoveries of Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, 'culturology', hermeneutics, the nonentity of 'structural functionalism' and the greatness of structuralism, etc.) I had already gone through in the company of my Polish colleagues well before landing in Britain. To cut a long story short, my first decade in Britain might have been full of sound and fury, for quite a few reasons (and indeed it was, as I confessed to Keith Tester quite a long while ago), but however, that signified pretty little for my vision of the sociological vocation.

You have always defined sociology as a 'conversation with human experience'. This raises two questions. First of all, what do you mean by 'human experience'?

I mean both Erfahrungen and Erlebnisse : the two different phenomena generated at the person/world interface, which Germans distinguish and set apart yet English speakers, due to the lack of distinct names, usually blend in one notion of 'experience'. Erfahrung is what happens to me when interacting with the world; Erlebnis is 'what I live through ' in the course of that encounter – the joint product of my perception of the happening(s) and my effort to absorb it and render it intelligible. Erfahrung can, and does, make a bid for the status of objectivity (supra – or interpersonality), whereas Erlebnis is evidently and overtly, explicitly subjective; and so, with a modicum of simplification, we may translate these concepts into English as, respectively, objective and subjective aspects of experience; or, adding a pinch of interpretation, actor-unprocessed and actor-processed experience. The first may be presented as a report from the world external to the actor; the second, coming from the actor's 'inside' and concerning private thoughts, impressions and emotions, may only be available in the form of an actor's report. In reports of the first category we hear of interpersonally testable events called 'facts'; the contents of the second kind of reports are not testable interpersonally – beliefs as reported by the actor are, so to speak, the ultimate (and only) &lsqu

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