3rd ISA Forum of Sociology: “The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World” – 10–14 July 2016 – Vienna, Austria
Working Group 02 Historical and Comparative Sociology (host committee)
Call for Papers: In What Ways Can Comparative–Historical Sociology Help to Improve the Workings of the Modern World?
Session Organiser: Stephen Mennell, University College Dublin (Stephen.Mennell@ucd.ie)
In its origins, sociology was comparative–historical sociology. It no longer is. In the modern neo-liberal university, money flows to present-centred (or ‘hodiecentric’) research, which politicians, policy-makers and administrators believe to be useful – a belief in which a large proportion of mainstream so-ciologists find it advantageous to share. Both sides may also share the com-mon belief that, because the modern/postmodern/digital/globalised world is changing and so new in character, studying the past is irrelevant: as Henry Ford put it so pithily at a pivotal stage in industrialisation, ‘History is bunk’.
Contemporary data-accumulating research is not without value, but it is not sufficient: contributions are invited reflecting on how sound comparative–historical knowledge of human society has the capacity to improve the hu-man means of orientation and possibly to improve political decision-making.
A few well-known quotations may help to bring this question into focus:
- ‘To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child’. (Cicero)
- ‘People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.’ (Edmund Burke)
- ‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ (George Santayana)
- And finally, Tony Blair, the British politician responsible for some of the most catastrophic decisions of the early twenty-first century, once said – with the advantage of hindsight on his career – that he wished he had read history rather than law at Oxford.
Please submit your abstract (300 words, in English) before 30 September 2015 online at: