This volume explores the sociological legacy of the late Pierre Bourdieu through an examination of the intellectual division between his reception in the world of French social sciences and his reception in the Anglophone world.
This article is a contribution to the revival of `virtue ethics'. If we regard human rights as a crucial development in the establishment of global institutions of justice and equality, then we need to explore the obligations that correspond to such rights. It is argued that cosmopolitan virtue a respect for other cultures and an ironic stance towards one's own culture spells out this obligation side of the human rights movement. Cosmopolitanism of course can assume very different forms. The article (...) traces various cosmopolitan ethics from the Greeks, Roman Stoics and Christian philosophers. Contemporary cosmopolitanism needs to be ironic to function usefully in hybrid global cultures, but it is open to the charge of being culturally `flat' and elitist. These criticisms are examined through the confrontation between Maurizio Viroli and Martha Nussbaum. While American patriotism is not a promising foundation for ironic cosmopolitanism, the republican tradition of virtue does offer a viable method of developing cosmopolitanism. Ironic cosmopolitan care for other cultures is founded on the commonalities of social existence, of which there are two central components: ontological vulnerability and political precariousness. (shrink)
It is a common complaint that sociology has little regard for history. One important exception to this standard criticism is the sociology of religion of Robert N. Bellah and his ‘revival’ of Karl Jasper’s notion of the axial age. In this article, Bellah’s evolutionary notions of religion are explored within a debate about historical disjunctures and continuities. A significant challenge to the idea of the continuity of axial-age religions comes from the notion of an Anthropocene. Our relationship to nature has (...) fundamentally changed and the possibilities for ‘improving’ the human body create a significant ontological challenge to the continuity/preservation of embodied practice as the underpinning of axial-age religions. The Anthropocene age presents a turning away from the religious legacies of the past, because biotechnical developments change not only our relationship to nature but they presage a radical change to the human body. Can the axial-age religions as our contemporaries survive the construction of hybrid post-bodies? In conclusion, insofar as there has been a ‘protestantization’ of religions with modernity involving an erosion of habitualized religion, an individualized and dis-embodied religiosity may be compatible with our anthropocenic future, but this possibility represents a discontinuity with the past and not a continuity. (shrink)
The sociological debate about globalization has often neglected the place of religion in a global age. This absence is problematic, given the creative role of the world religions in the shaping of the modernization and globalization processes. This article treats globalization as a particular phase of the general process of modernity, and considers religion in terms of four paradoxes. The first argues that, against the received wisdom, fundamentalism is a form of modernization. Although religious fundamentalism may be a reaction to (...) the hybridity brought about by globalization, it is not a traditional reaction. The second argues that modernization and globalization constitute religion as a special and separate institutional sphere of society, and hence transform religion into a problem of modernity. Fundamentalism attempts to reverse this pattern and, in the marginal societies of the global system, fundamentalist religion challenges this western version of modernized religion. The third is that religious values in a global village expose the incommensurability of cultural systems, but relativism is not easily sustained in practice and globalization paradoxically increases the need for human rights universalism. While nationalism as a framework for cultures conflicts with attempts to develop general systems of rights discourse, it is not evident that the creation of alternative rights systems appears to be immediately viable. The final explores the contradiction between Orientalism as a necessary consequence of the discovery of Otherness and Otherness as a necessary experience of cosmopolitan humanism. The article concludes with a discussion of the possibilities of cosmopolitan virtue in the context of these paradoxes of globalization and religion. (shrink)
In contemporary sociology, there has been significant interest in the idea of mobility, the decline of the nation state, the rise of flexible citizenship, and the porous quality of political boundaries. There is much talk of medicine without borders and sociology without borders. These social developments are obviously linked to the processes of globalization, leading some to argue that we need a `sociology beyond society' in order to account for these flows and global networks. In this article, I propose an (...) alternative analysis. There are important developments involving the securitization of modern societies that create significant forms of immobility. One striking illustration is the increasing use of walls to quarantine or secure territories and communities against outsiders or to regulate the flow of migrants in Israel, in Europe and along the Mexican-US border. Modern societies are in particular characterized by a deep contradiction between the economic need for labour mobility and the state's political need to assert sovereignty. Gated societies, ghettoes, quarantine zones, prisons, camps and similar arrangements are in many respects pre-modern institutions of spatial regulation for political ends. Contemporary technical developments in biomedicine offer new opportunities for political control and spatial regulation in terms of forensic policing, bio-tattooing and bioprofiling. Globalization paradoxically produces significant forms of immobility for political regulation of persons alongside the mobility of goods and services. (shrink)
The human body has been a potent and persistent metaphor for social and political relations throughout human history. For example, different parts of the body have traditionally represented different social functions. We refer to the ‘head of state’ without really recognizing the metaphor, and the heart has been a rich source of ideas about life, imagination and emotions. The heart is the house of the soul and the book of life, and the ‘tables of the heart’ provided an insight into (...) the whole of Nature. The hand also plays an important role in conventional imagination regarding things that are beautiful or damaged and incomplete. We can generalize from these diverse examples to argue that the fluids flowing from the inside of the body to the outside are regarded as socially dangerous and contaminating, because these fluids on the outside of the body directly challenge our sense of order and orderliness. This inside/outside division of the body combines with a wet/dry dichotomy to delineate these risky borders. Although leaking bodies have been a source of ancient metaphors of disorder, the modern world, that sociologists increasingly characterize by its liquidity, is peculiarly fascinated by flow as an image of global flexibility. The more our world is economically and militarily interconnected, the more we fear social fluidity. In political terms, asylum seekers and terrorists are thought not to respect our bodies or our borders; we are especially sensitive to their capacity to disrupt the solidity of sovereignty. In short, metaphors of the human body, even in an age of high technology, continue to shape the social and political imagination, but they are challenged by emerging metaphors of liquidity, that is by liquid modernity. (shrink)
In traditional societies, knowledge is organized in hierarchical chains through which authority is legitimated by custom. Because the majority of the population is illiterate, sacred knowledge is conveyed orally and ritualistically, but the ultimate source of religious authority is typically invested in the Book. The hadith are a good example of traditional practice. These chains of Islamic knowledge were also characteristically local, consensual and lay, unlike in Christianity, with its emergent ecclesiastical bureaucracies, episcopal structures and ordained priests. In one sense, (...) Islam has no church. While there are important institutional differences between the world religions, network society opens up significant challenges to traditional authority, rapidly increasing the flow of religious knowledge and commodities. With global flows of knowledge on the Internet, power is no longer embodied and the person is simply a switchpoint in the information flow. The logic of networking is that control cannot be concentrated for long at any single point in the system; knowledge, which is by definition only temporary, is democratically produced at an infinite number of sites. In this Andy Warhol world, every human can, in principle, have their own site. While the Chinese Communist Party and several Middle Eastern states attempt to control this flow, their efforts are only partially successful. The result is that traditional forms of religious authority are constantly disrupted and challenged, but at the same time the Internet creates new opportunities for evangelism, religious instruction and piety. The outcome of these processes is, however, unknown and unknowable. There is a need, therefore, to invent a new theory of authority that is post-Weberian in reconstructing the conventional format of charisma, tradition and legal rationalism. (shrink)
This article makes a contribution to the on-going debates about universalism and cultural relativism from the perspective of sociology. We argue that bioethics has a universal range because it relates to three shared human characteristics,—human vulnerability, institutional precariousness and scarcity of resources. These three components of our argument provide support for a related notion of ‘weak foundationalism’ that emphasizes the universality and interrelatedness of human experience, rather than their cultural differences. After presenting a theoretical position on vulnerability and human rights, (...) we draw on recent criticism of this approach in order to paint a more nuanced picture. We conclude that the dichotomy between universalism and cultural relativism has some conceptual merit, but it also has obvious limitations when we consider the political economy of health and its impact on social inequality. (shrink)
A global transformation of modes of religious authority has been taking place at an increasing pace in recent years. The social and political implications of the growing dominance of neo-scripturalist discourses on Islam have been particularly noticeable after 11 September 2001. This evolution of religiosity, which is mediated by mass media and new media technology, creates the conditions of existence of a post-Weberian and post-Durkheimian order. In this new social context, legitimacy can be more easily disconnected from the institutionalized framework (...) of religious and political authority. Both in Muslim countries and in Western democracies, the attempt by Islamic activists to make the Shari’a relevant in contemporary settings creates new opportunities and challenges for legal pluralism. At the same time, the multiplication of Muslim voices claiming to be able to interpret the sacred texts, particularly in virtual communities, creates an increasingly inchoate ‘noise’ about Islamic orthodoxy. In the context of an exponential increase in the global possibilities for religious identification and expression, the growth of neo-scripturalist interpretations of Islam reflects a quest for parsimony and stability. (shrink)
The concept of generation has had little refinement and application in recent sociology. After reviewing the literature, this article modifies Mannheim's original conceptualization through Bourdieu's notion of habitus, with the aim of providing a framework for the comparative study of generations. To this end, generation is defined as a cohort of persons passing through time who come to share a common habitus, hexis and culture, a function of which is to provide them with a collective memory that serves to integrate (...) the cohort over a finite period of time. (shrink)
The Huntington thesis of the clash of cultures and American foreign policy analysis are both aspects of the legacy of Carl Schmitt's distinction between friend and foe. This article explores Schmitt's political theology as the theoretical basis of modern politics in terms of the concepts of state sovereignty and the idea of a permanent emergency. Within this Schmittian framework, the analysis of Islam as presented by writers such as Huntington, Fukuyama and Barber is critically analysed. Their analysis of fundamentalism and (...) political Islam fails to grasp the complexity and diversity of modern Islam. The article concludes by examining a number of social and economic processes that make the political division between friend and foe untenable. (shrink)
This article argues that tattooing and body piercing in modern societies cannot be naively innocent acts; such activities cannot recapture primitiveness, because they take place within a social context, where social membership is not expressed through hot loyalties and thick commitments. Body marks in primitive society were obligatory signatures of social membership in solidaristic groups, wherein life-cycle changes were necessarily marked by tattooing and scarification. Modern societies are metaphorically like airport departure lounges where passengers are encouraged to be cool and (...) distant, orderly and regulated. The article is thus critical of recent attempts to discover and unearth Dionysian moments of creative tribalism in modern youth groups or working-class communities. Body marks are commercial objects in a leisure marketplace and have become optional aspects of a body aesthetic, which playfully and ironically indicate social membership. They cannot serve as charismatic entrance points to the primitive. (shrink)
Jean-Francois Lyotard is often considered to be the father of postmodernism. Here leading experts in the field of cultural and philosophical studies, including Barry Smart, John O' Neill and Victor J. Seidler, tackle many of the questions still being asked about this controversial figure.
The Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011 and its corollaries, Occupy Sandy and Occupy Debt, have been largely understood as secular movements. In spite of this, religious actors not only participated, but in some cases played an integral role within the movement, lending material support, organizing expertise, and public statements of support. We rely on interviews with faith leaders in New York and Oakland, and engage in an analysis of print and online media to explore the role of religious actors (...) and groups in Occupy Wall Street. Religious participants were often long-time veterans of progressive political struggles and drew inspiration from their faith traditions. Nonetheless, religious commitments were secondary to political objectives shared by themselves and their secular counterparts. Religious leaders believed they offered symbolic authority to the movement and highlighted this in their engagement in the hope of giving it greater moral weight. Current discussions on postsecularism and public religions are considered. (shrink)
Religion was one of the most important issues for early sociology, as is amply demonstrated by the work of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. This set draws together the formative works on this subject, including key works in social anthropology. The collection includes a volume of important early essays, and an original introduction by the editor.