Parallel Worlds of the Sociological Theory Cover Image

Paralelné svety sociologických teórií
Parallel Worlds of the Sociological Theory

Author(s): Dilbar Alieva (Alijevová)
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Sociologický ústav - Slovenská akadémia vied
Keywords: Sociological theory; postmodern social theory; functionalism; marxism; J. Baudrillard; M. Maffesoli; J. Alexander; M. Castells

Summary/Abstract: Parallel Worlds of the Sociological Theory. The article is devoted to the co-existence of such different contemporary sociological approaches as the post-modern social theory and the mainstream sociology, represented by functionalism. Their thematic and conceptual differences are so significant that the metaphor of the parallel worlds of sociological theory seems to be adequate to describe the present situation. The analysis focuses on the late works of J. Baudrillard as the most important representative of post-modern social theory. Baudrillard declares that the social is dead because the key social factors like class and ethnic differences have disappeared with the creation of an undifferentiated mass. This declaration leads Baudrillard towards creating a new way of sociologizing and a new sociological vocabulary, which sharply contrasts with the concepts of the mainstream sociology. The masses for him are a non-social category – a „silent majority“, a „black hole“ that absorbs all social characteristics of the system. It is their fatal strategies that are so crucial for the fate of the social world. The similar position in this respect is typical for another eminent French post-modern theorist M. Maffesoli. For him, the masses have lost their political and economical characteristics – they are not anymore the subject of the world history. Naturally, such „antisocial theory“ make the post-modern sociology unacceptable for the most mainstream sociologists in their research and theorizing. They live in their own sociological universe that had been created during the long sociological tradition. The core conception of mainstream sociology is represented by structural-functionalism, which has been recently revived in the works of neo-functionalists (J. Alexander, P. Colomy, S. N. Eisenstadt, F. Lechner, R. Munch). Functionalism survives not only in the sociological theory but also in the „practical sociological reasoning“. It presents the sociological theory that is parallel to the post-modern social theory. The third parallel structure in contemporary sociology is presented by Marxist social theory. It has also survived in the works of the eminent modern (A. Giddens, P. Bourdieu) and post-modern (J. Baudrillard, M. Maffesoli, F. Jameson) sociologists. An outstanding example of the “latent Marxism” in recent years is the conception of the informational society by M. Castells. In comparison with the functionalism that embodies the consensual thinking, the Marxism presents a conflict-oriented critical position which makes it a popular ideology in contemporary globalizing world. The pessimistic image of the disintegrated sociological world composed of its parallel theories is not true. Each of these parallel sociological theories fulfils its special function in the contemporary sociological research. They present the complementary, not competitive, positions in sociology and contribute to the sociology as the complex system of theory and research.

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: 5
  • Page Range: 367-398
  • Page Count: 32
  • Language: Slovak