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Theories & Methods in Social science AND humanities -- to understand and explain… = two examples: 1) Nationalism and/or 2) Religion and social life.

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Presentation on theme: "Theories & Methods in Social science AND humanities -- to understand and explain… = two examples: 1) Nationalism and/or 2) Religion and social life."— Presentation transcript:

1 theories & Methods in Social science AND humanities -- to understand and explain… = two examples: 1) Nationalism and/or 2) Religion and social life

2 Mattias säger ex: a) Jag är konservativ b) Min forskning genomsyras av marxistiska perspektiv av marxistiska perspektiv c) Jag är aktiv i Feministiskt Initiativ Feministiskt Initiativ d) Jag antar att när jag äter pizza så blir jag glad pizza så blir jag glad Let’s start with a reflection….. So…??

3 Reflections on the ”ISMS” Liberalism Conservatism Marxism Realism feminism Constructivism *Ideas ? *Ideologies ? *Political projects ? *Grand theories ?

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5 Grand theory is any theory which attempts an overall explanation of social life, history, or human experience. It is normally contrasted with empiricism, positivism, or the view that understanding is only possible by studying particular instances, societies, or phenomena.empiricism positivism Source: Quentin Skinner, ed., The Return of Grand Theory in the Human Sciences (Cambridge, 1985)

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7 Understanding theories about nationalism to understand nationalism Nationalists Modernism Constructivism Ethno- symbolism Nations & nationalisms

8 Nations / National identities / Nationalisms Are nations ancient or modern? ( role of the past in the creation of the present ) Are nations natural or constructed? = ”real” or ”imagined”? 2 theoretical questions:

9 Constuctivism in nationalism research... Constuctivism in nationalism research... Imagined communities (B. Anderson) Imagined communities (B. Anderson) [a nation] It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion [a nation] It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion = Media / Technology / Modernity /... = Media / Technology / Modernity /...

10 Ethno-symbolism in nationalism research... "... nationalists have a vital role in the formation of nations, not as social engineers, but as political archaeologists rediscovering … the communal past in order to regenerate the community. … they forget as well as remember the past, but to succeed they must meet certain criteria. Their interpretations must be consonant not only with nationalism (as an ideology) but also with the scientific evidence, popular resonance and patterning of particular ethnohistories. (Anthony D. Smith)

11 a theory?: a theory?: I believe that the European I believe that the European Union … reflects what Union … reflects what the world will look like at the world will look like at the end of history … the end of history … The EU's attempt to The EU's attempt to transcend sovereignty and transcend sovereignty and traditional power politics by traditional power politics by establishing a transnational rule of law establishing a transnational rule of law is in line with a "post-historical" world is in line with a "post-historical" world

12 Max Weinreich: Max Weinreich: ”a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot” ( ) ( אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט ) Ett språk är en dialekt med en armé och en flotta Язык - это диалект, у которого есть армия и флот Una lengua es un dialecto con un ejército a theory?:

13 Back to theories about nationalism = Levels (constructivism as an example) “Grand Theory”: = Social reality (identities, historical knowledge, gender roles,…) = socially constructed. National identities are thus a result of socio-political and cultural processes of construction. [Modernity & elites in focus] “Large” Theory = Italian identity is a nineteen century construction = politics + culture supported “by the political Rome”.. (Garibaldi, Mazzini,…, and their power over collective knowledge/imaginations)

14 Back to theories about nationalism = Levels (constructivism as an example) “Medium Theory” = Nationally oriented political a d cultural elites contributed strongly to the construction of modern Italian identity “Medium Theory” = Giuseppe Mazzini (+ La Giovine Italia) was enormously influential in giving meaning to the Italian national identity. (It would not be the same without him & it..) Nationally oriented political a d cultural elites contributed strongly to the construction of modern Italian identity “Micro Theory” = the publication about … was ?... “Micro Theory” = the publication about … was enormously influential on …?...

15 The Light and Darkness of the Occident - The contemporary Polish and American Christian Right in a Comparative Perspective (a pilot study) An example of how we may work with theories and methods … The Light and Darkness of the Occident - The contemporary Polish and American Christian Right in a Comparative Perspective (a pilot study) An example of how we may work with theories and methods …

16 Comparative analysis Throughout your academic career, you'll be asked to write papers in which you compare and contrast two things: two texts, two theories, two historical figures (…) "Classic" compare-and-contrast papers, in which you weight A and B equally, may be about two similar things that have crucial differences (…) or two similar things that have crucial differences, yet turn out to have surprising commonalities (…) REF: Kerry Walk, for the Writing Center at Harvard University,

17 Comparative analysis Organizational Scheme. Your introduction will include your frame of reference, grounds for comparison, and thesis. There are two basic ways to organize the body of your paper. In text-by-text, you discuss all of A, then all of B. In point-by-point, you alternate points about A with comparable points about B. REF: Kerry Walk, for the Writing Center at Harvard University,

18 Polish conservative politics in Western media, a few examples… International Herald Tribune ( ) Poland and Brussels face clash of cultures New York Times ( ) Conservative Poland Roils European Union; The Times ( ) Right-wing Polish MEP Michal Kaminski becomes Tories controversial EU leader

19 Theoretical reflection Many commentators of Western politics (mainly in Western Europe) seem to be somewhat blinded by the ‘modernization- secularization theory’. ( e.g. Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” = rationalist secularism.) Secular liberalism is ingrained in Western political & academic interpretations of European politics = the strong position of religion in Poland or in the US = seen as an outdated and surprising phenomenon… SECULARIZATION THEORY versus DESECULARIZATION THEORY

20 Peter Beger: “What I and most other sociologist of religion wrote in the 1960 about secularization was a mistake. Our underlying argument was that secularization and modernization go hand wrote in the 1960 about secularization was a mistake. Our underlying argument was that secularization and modernization go hand in hand. […] Most of the world today is certainly not secular” * to be compared with:…

21 = Multiple Modernities as Limits = Multiple Modernities as Limits to Secular Europeanization? to Secular Europeanization? the idea of multiple modernities presumes that the best way to understand the contemporary world is to see is as a story of continual constitution and reconstitution of a multiplicity of cultural programs” = how to define the concept of a civilization? = how to define the concept of the Occident?

22 The essence of ”this” discourse: A belief that a divine intent rules societies as well as conscience, forging an eternal chain of rights and duties. Political problems are in their nature religious and moral ones. “Politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which is above nature” (Kirk 1968; 18).

23 = A dichotomy between a ‘Christian America’ and a ‘secular Europe’ seems to be more and more outdated, especially after the Eastern enlargement of the EU. The evangelical (but also Catholic) Christian discourse in American politics, as well as religiously legitimized politics in Poland, open new questions about secularization versus desecularization of Western politics… = the present pilot study…

24 Comparative findings: 1) As well the Polish as the American Christian Right define the identity of the Occident in essentialist terms emphasizing Christianity as the foundation of Western cultural, social and political order. Neither the philosophical legacy of the Enlightenment, nor the technological, economic or material achievements of modernity makes the Occident really Occidental. Progressive ideologies may be seen as utopian, and de facto even “anti-Western”.

25 Comparative findings: 2) The conservative discourse is articulated as well by politicians as by prominent scholars and journalists ( = intellectual legitimacy ). * Contrary to many countries of the Western Europe, for example Sweden, many well-known scholars show directly their support for Christian social conservative politics.

26 Politcal Conservatism and Academic Legitimacy prof. R. Legutko prof. P. Jaroszynski prof. R. Legutko prof. P. Jaroszynski prof. R. Bender prof. J. Bartyzel prof. R. Bender prof. J. Bartyzel

27 Political Conservatism and Academic Legitimacy Ph.D. Thomas Fleming prof. Paul Gottfried Prof. Alvin Plantinga Prof. Alvin Plantinga Ph.D. Diana Butler Bass

28 Comparative findings: 3) In both cases = very good communication possibilities and strategies. The religious Right has its own, or is associated with: universities, TV and radio stations, large publishing offices and daily magazines. This is more visible in the US (larger number of Christian Right actors). However, the number of journals and organizations is relatively large in Poland as well; sometimes in a “soft conflict” with the Bishops)

29 Social conservatism in Poland – examples of organizations and media

30 Social conservatism in the US – examples of organizations and media

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32 Comparative findings: 4) In both cases, the modern Christian Right have historical origins, particularly = the 1970’s. The huge difference is that Polish Christian activist worked underground until the fall of Communism. * Even if (during the 1970’s and 1980’s) living in a non democratic and relatively poor society the Poles were however, similarly to the Americans, expressing criticism of materialism and the consumerist way of life.

33 Comparative findings: 5) Even if Polish social conservatives are Catholics, there were and continue to be important discursive transfers from and references to the American Right. The Polish actors seem often to be inspired by conservatism in the US. * (Examples of translations, references and inter-textuality in Bratniak, Polityka, Fronda, TV TRWAM)

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35 Further comparative findings to be elaborated: 6) Foreign policy, e.g. in relation to Israel 7) Strong criticism of feminism and articulation of the Christian traditionalist discourse by female scholars and politicians 8) Inter-religious dialogue


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