XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010


RC homepage


Thematic Group on
Historical and Comparative Sociology TG02

Programme Coordinator
Willfried Spohn, Free University of Berlin/University of Goettingen, Germany, willfried.spohn@sowi.uni-goettingen.de

Congress Programme


Multiple Modernities, civilizational analysis and historical sociology

Sessions descriptions

Session 1: Inter-civilizational configurations and encounters – Towards a historical sociology of globalization
Chair: Victor Roudometof, University of Cyprus, roudomet@ucy.ac.cy
This session will address the multiple historical dimensions of globalization. It will focus on the growing connectivity among world regions as manifested in the longue-durée of world history. Of particular importance are the inter-civilizational constellations that have emerged as a result of the growing contacts among civilizational traditions in the Euro-Asian continent during the pre-1492 periods as well as those between old civilizations of East and South Asia and the historically recent civilizations inWestern Euro-Asia. Of equal importance are also the encounters between Westerners and non-Westerners in the post-1492 period. Colonialism, post-colonialism and inter-cultural relations are all included within the rubric of an emerging historical sociology of globalization. Among the key themes for the session are the following: the role of inter-civilizational encounters for the articulation of multiple modernities in different world regions; the inter-play between religious traditions and the accentuation of cultural difference; the interrelations between structural and cultural dimension in inter-civilizational encounters and constellations; the commonalities and differences of inter-civilizational encounters in different periods of globalization; as well as the relationship between the multiple modernities perspective on, civilizational approaches to and historical-comparative analyses of globalization.   

Session 2: Civilizational analysis and historical sociology – Convergent or divergent approaches and perspectives?
Chairs: Johann Arnason, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic, j.arnason@latrobe.edu.au and Willfried Spohn, University of Goettingen
Historical and comparative sociology has primarily developed in criticizing macro-sociological theories and analyses of modernization and social change by focusing on the social, political and cultural meso- and micro-foundations of path-dependent trajectories. Civilizational analysis in criticizing the Euro-centric and nation-state focus of sociological approaches to modernization and social change and related to the multiple modernities perspective has concentrated on civilizational complexes and constellations beyond the nation-state in terms of world religions and political empires. In such a characterization, historical-sociological and civilizational approaches seem to diverge. At the same time, there are also convergent links, particularly between macro-historical approaches that include culture or ideology and civilizational approaches that include economic and political power relations. The session intends to bring both approaches together and discuss their theoretical, methodological and analytical commonalities and differences. Topics of the contributions may range from varieties of capitalism and economic cultures, state formation and democratization, social movements and revolutions, nation-building and ethnic-national relations as well as cultures, religions and inter-civilizational encounters.   

Session 3: Peripheral modernities and multiple inequalities – Theoretical and comparative perspectives
Chair: Manuela Boatca, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany,
Approaches building on or explicitly departing from the multiple modernities perspective have increasingly stressed the fact that the mere pluralization of modernities is an insufficient corrective of conventional sociological views of modernization and the modern. In particular, the multiple modernities perspective is seen as paying too little attention to the historical bonds linking the various geopolitical spaces credited with their own model of modernity, as well as to the structural hierarchies among the modernities thus produced. In turn, theories of “entangled”, “subaltern”, and “peripheral modernities” in different ways and to different degrees address the connectedness and the asymmetric power relations between modernities, while stressing the legacy of colonialism and slavery alongside economic, political, and epistemic dependence in peripheral and ex-colonial contexts. They are thus closer to world-systemic analyses of global inequality structures and postcolonial approaches drawing on Latin American dependency theory or Indian Subaltern Studies than to conventional theories of inequality and social change. The session will therefore focus on the relationship between peripheral/subaltern modernities and the emergence of inequality structures that differ from those in core/dominant modernities, as well as on the impact of such differing structures on global inequality patterns. Contributions dealing with processes of race and ethnicity formation in Western and non-Western areas, global and regional class structures, and gender regimes in historical and/or comparative perspective are welcome.

Session 4: Europeanization between globalization, nation-states and citizens – Civilizational and historical-sociological perspectives
Chair: Willfried Spohn, University of Goettingen, Germany, willfried.spohn@sowi.uni-goettingen.de
Europeanization in the double sense of the development of a trans-national multi-level regime on the basis of a growing number of member states, on the one hand, and the impacts of enlarging European integration on European societies, on the other, is often conceived as an internal European process. However, the double process of Europeanization is also dependent on the historical foundations, constructions and reconstructions of the European civilization; the development of inter-civilizational encounters in an emerging world order; as well as their contemporary transformations in a globalizing world. The session invites contributions to the multi-dimensional, socio-economic, political-legal and cultural-cognitive relationships between Europeanization and globalization. The contributions may range from political economy and economic sociology to political sociology and international relations, inter-disciplinary approaches to international migration and citizenship as well as the cultural and historical sciences. But the contributions should particularly focus on inter-civilizational constellations and global conditions in a historical-comparative sociological perspective. 

Session 5: Business Meeting

Joint sessions hosted by other RC

Joint session: Global Economic crisis, varieties of capitalism and social inequality – Theoretical, historical and comparative perspectives
Joint session of RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee] and TG02 Historical and Comparative Research
Joint session: Transnational migration and (family) life-courses – Theoretical, historical and comparative perspectives
Joint session of RC38 Biography and Society [host committee] and TG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology

Joint Session: Futures after the crisis: Joint sessions hosted by other RCTheoretical, historical, and comparative perspectives
Joint Session of RC07 Futures Research , RC09 Social Transformations and Sociology of Development [host committee], and TG02 Thematic Group on Historical and Comparative Sociology


Integrative session 10: Islam and power
Friday, July 16, 08:30-10:30
Integrative session of Research Committee RC22 Sociology of Religion, Thematic Group TG02 Historical and Comparative Sociology, Australian Sociological Association, Croatian Sociological Association and Association for the Study of Persianate Societies