PSR 2(186)/2014

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A Sociological Prelude in Theological Notations: Minor and Major

This paper explores trivial or minor issues of body parts and relics and the major matter of evil. These incongruities offer a means of reflecting on the relationships between sociology and theology as re-set by the advent of postsecularity and the fears of Benedict XVI concerning the dictatorship of relativism. Efforts to resolve these incongruities draw attention to metaphors and the limits of sociological rhetoric in handling matters pertaining to theology. A means of overcoming these dilemmas is to be found in the musical explorations of Weber who offers a way of coming to terms with the irruptive spectres of postsecularity.

Keywords: sociology; theology; postsecularity; trivia; evil.

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Between Rejection of Religion and World-Saving: Itineraries of Sociology and Postsecular Social Theory

Encroachments of contemporary social theory on the field of theology are the focal point of this essay. In postmodernity, theology facilitates connections with social theory. In the domain of theology, sociocultural problems are being presented as theological issues. Secularized variants of world theology meet with theologizing postsecular social theory above and beyond sociology. This is facilitated by the constant discourse of ambiguity. In this discourse, “the theological” is a vehicle of indeterminate meanings. Praxis’ oriented discourse uses the term “social theory” with its modernist connotative envelope of science and rationality, but with no obligation whatsoever to maintain objectivity of cognition. Sociology doesn’t interfere with theological discourse, but may analyze it, leaving the otherworldly outside its perspective on sociocultural phenomena. The sociotheological discourse of ambiguity, however, opposes both religion and the rationality of science.

Keywords: postsecularism, praxis, social theory, sociology, theology.

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Sociological and Theological Imagination in a Post-secular Society

In Comte’s vision, humanity progressed from a theological to a metaphysical to a positive phase.This transition was to be mirrored by the replacement of theology and metaphysics by a new science of society—sociology. Comte’s prophecy was quickly fulfilled—within a century the new discipline had successfully undermined the legitimacy of other systems of knowledge in the social realm—like philosophy, theology, and literature. Even theologians learned to adopt the findings of their rival and incorporate them into their framework. At the same time, the emerging social sciences borrowed heavily from theology, while trying to mask the debt. The recent constructivist turn has challenged social scholars to rethink that positivist paradigm. This article tries to take up the challenge and see whether theology and sociology can possibly learn from one another.

Keywords: theology, sociology, secularity, post-secularity, sociological and theological imagination.

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Biography and the 20th Century Tony Judt’s Project of a Political Death

The aim of this article is to analyse the political and mnemonic programme to be found in the last books of the British historian and thinker Tony Judt. The author of this article assumes that the final period of Judt’s writing, in which he produced Ill Fares the Land, TheMemory Chalet, and the posthumously published discussion with Timothy Snyder entitled Thinking the Twentieth Century, is dependent on a kind of ‘art of memory’. For Judt, being terminally ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and thus condemned to immobility, this method became not so much—as in the case of its classic varieties—a technology of remembering, as a manner of recognizing and analyzing the contemporary world by turning to his own biography. The purpose was to construct a ’political testament’ for the Western world in a time of crisis whose roots, according to Judt, can be found in the supremacy that ‘economic’ thinking has achieved over traditional political thought. In a gesture reminiscent of the Stoic ‘techniques of the self’ described by Michel Foucault, Judt, by exploiting his own no less complicated biography and identity, tries to throw light on the complicated history of the 20th century, containing the sources of ‘our contemporary ills’. Biography and history thus meet here in a ’work of memory’ whose horizon and catalyzer is the perspective of death, and whose stake is the idea of a political community experiencing, according to Judt, a period of inertia.

Keywords: intellectual biography, political biography, history of the 20th century, politics, social memory, death.

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Why the Global Crisis? History’s Footprints

This article unravels the complex dynamic that had led to the September 2008 financial collapse and to the subsequent and continuing global economic downturn. Taking a longer historical perspective it argues for the need to go beyond the immediate causes that are most often cited, by academics and non-academics alike, as the main reason behind the crash. The essay is first focused on the evolution of societal values within a democratic society, with a specific focus on the United States, the quintessential Western democracy. It shows how the puritan values of social responsibility, hard work and prudence came to be replaced by the ‘me first culture’ characterised by self-realisation and instant gratification. The article also examines the various policies democratic leaders the world over have been implementing in an effort to meet the growing societal aspirations brought on by the normative changes.

Keywords: Global crisis, democracy, popular culture, social structure, values.

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Bauman and Bergman: A Short Note

The influence on sociologists of texts by others is widely accepted and a standard line of investigation.However if books can be an influence it is not unreasonable to assume that other cultural products might be significant too in the formation of a sociologist. This Note addresses the possibility by exploring some of the possible meanings of a passing comment once made by Zygmunt Bauman. In conversation with the present author Bauman once said that Ingmar Bergman’s film Winter Light is important to him. This short Note attempts to work out why, and it focuses on the theme of vocation. It is crucial to stress that this Note was inspired by Bauman’s comment but works entirely at the level of publicly available texts. It is not to be assumed that Bauman would personally agree with this explanation.

Keywords: Bauman, Bergman, Culture, Film, Vocation.

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Bruno Latour, Rejoicing. Or the Torments of Religious Speech (Aneta Gawkowska)

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Marcel Fournier, Emile Durkheim. A Biography (Jakub Bazyli Motrenko)

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A Sociological Contribution to HAHR’s Open Forum on Jeremy Adelman’s (2013) Biography of Albert O. Hirschman (Adriana Mica)

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Jeffrey David Turk and Adam Mrozowicki (eds) Realist Biography and European Policy (KatarzynaWaniek)

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