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Sociology, Critique and Modernity: Views Across the European Divide

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Questions raised by the collapse of Communist power and ideology have major implications for the self-understanding of sociology as a mode of inquiry. These questions are linked to unresolved disputes and incomplete projects, inherited from earlier phases of the sociological tradition but still relevant to the central issues of theoretical and substantive debates. In that context, the idea of comparative analysis is a defining characteristic of sociological inquiry rather than one research strategy among others. Social theory and comparative history need each other for mutual information, as well as for protection against the danger of disciplinary closure. The idea of sociology as a critique of modernity – or at least a possible foundation for such a critique – should be reconsidered in light of comparative and historical perspectives. Both the predicament of Marxian critique and the question of alternatives to it should be considered from the East Central European angle. It provides a compelling case for re-examining the very idea of critique, the arguments on behalf of rival versions, and the role of critical perspectives in sociological analysis. A civilizational frame of reference will broaden our perspectives on the antinomies of modernity beyond the partial views of earlier sociological theory.


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