Are Sociological Concepts of the Unprecedented Possible? The 20th Century and the Methodological Challenges Before Sociology Cover Image
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Are Sociological Concepts of the Unprecedented Possible? The 20th Century and the Methodological Challenges Before Sociology
Are Sociological Concepts of the Unprecedented Possible? The 20th Century and the Methodological Challenges Before Sociology

Author(s): Svetlana Sabeva
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Институтът по философия и социология при БАН
Keywords: Traditions and Transitions in Sociology; Hannah Arendt’s concept of ‘the banality of evil’; contemporary sociology and the concepts of the unprecedented; understanding sociology; ‘Gestalt switch’; hermeneutic of the everyday; hermeneutic of the unpreceden

Summary/Abstract: The article discusses a possible extension of the cognitive scope of contemporary sociology to the direction of thematizing the ‘unprecedented’ (of events like the Holocaust, the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl, the attacks of 11 September 2001 etc.). In the search of a paradigm in a field, a reference is made to Hannah Arendt’s concept of ‘the banality of evil’ (aiming at the uniqueness of the Nazi destruction camps), and the sociological relevance of this concept is demonstrated – a relevance which is has been neglected and left unexplicitated by Arendt herself. Basic requirements are outlined for the construction of concepts of the unprecedented which are analogous in the methodological aspect. The emphasis is put on two of these requirements: the retaining of the autonomous level of actions, and the hermeneutic justification of the said concepts. In the spirit of Weber and Schutz, the classics of understanding sociology, the latter requirement means to have ‘adequacy’ between interrelations of meaning inherent in the social science construction, and the meaning formation taking place in the contexts of action in the studied social world. The central problem of the article is how a ‘Gestalt switch’ is possible from the hermeneutic of the everyday – which represents the fundament of the classical understanding sociology – to the hermeneutic of the unprecedented.

  • Issue Year: 34/2002
  • Issue No: Special
  • Page Range: 41-54
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: English