CfP: Can Comparative–Historical Sociology Help to Improve the Workings of the Modern World?

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 (

Language: English

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:

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *