February 20th, 2012
Humanism and Sociology: Discord and syntheses
This abstract is about a presentation that I will be giving at a “Contemporary Social Theory in Canada” panel, at a Sociology conference in Waterloo, Ontario, around the end of May.
Humanist and anti-humanist discourses have a long and convoluted history. In Sociology, humanistic approaches sometimes have been deemed to be un-scientific, or inherently exclusionary. For decades, humanist language has been met with trans-disciplinary opposition, as such conceptions have been described as passé, deceptive, or even dangerous. To relate these questions to Sociology, this presentation will address a series of contemporary accounts. In recent years, there has been renewed support for humanistic concepts, in at least a few fields of study. Edward Said’s work is a noteworthy case in point. The Sociologists Paul Gilroy, Ken Plummer, and Patricia Hill Collins also have lent support to this shunned term. Moreover, Raewyn Connell’s work on masculinities offers a quasi-humanist approach. Decades earlier, C. Wright left a humanistic mark on Sociology. His critical approach and his calls for change are along the lines of reformist and radical impulses of the ‘founding fathers.’ Core strands of the discipline arguably have had humanist inclinations all along. Karl Marx’s analysis, in particular, has been associated with much of the humanistic work in and around Sociology, since the mid-twentieth century.
Two other relevant books that I don’t mention in the abstract are Lorenzo C. Simpson’s book The Unfinished Project, and Kate Soper’s Humanism and Anti-Humanism.
This presentation basically will be about sections of my PhD dissertation, which mainly is about Murray Bookchin, Erich Fromm, and Henri Lefebvre.
There’s also a humanism tag on this blog, and on some of my Flickr posts.
Tags: · academic, history, humanism, social theory, Toban