Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in the Social Sciences

Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in the Social Sciences

Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in the Social Sciences

Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in the Social Sciences

Synopsis

Southern Theorypresents the case for a radical re-thinking of social science and its relationships to knowledge, power and democracy on a world scale. Mainstream social science pictures the world as understood by the educated and affluent in Europe and North America. From Weber and Keynes to Friedman and Foucault, theorists from the global North dominate the imagination of social scientists, and the reading lists of students, all over the world. For most of modern history, the majority world has served social science only as a data mine. Yet the global South does produce knowledge and understanding of society. Through vivid accounts of critics and theorists, Raewyn Connell shows how social theory from the world periphery has power and relevance for understanding our changing world from al-Afghani at the dawn of modern social science, to Raul Prebisch in industrialising Latin America, Ali Shariati in revolutionary Iran, Paulin Hountondji in post-colonial Benin, Veena Das and Ashis Nandy in contemporary India, and many others. With clarity and verve, Southern Theoryintroduces readers to texts, ideas and debates that have emerged from Australia's Indigenous people, from Africa, Latin America, south and south-west Asia. It deals with modernisation, gender, race, class, cultural domination, neoliberalism, violence, trade, religion, identity, land, and the structure of knowledge itself. Southern Theoryshows how this tremendous resource has been disregarded by mainstream social science. It explores the challenges of doing theory in the periphery, and considers the role Southern perspectives should have in a globally connected system of knowledge. Southern Theorydraws on sociology, anthropology, history, psychology, economics, philosophy and cultural studies, with wide-ranging implications for social science in the 21st century.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to propose a new path for social theory that will help social science to serve democratic purposes on a world scale. the dominant powers reshaping our world seek to close down, rather than open up, the self-knowledge of society. in such a world, social science has a vital democratic role to play.

But social science is, at best, ambiguously democratic. Its dominant genres picture the world as it is seen by men, by capitalists, by the educated and affluent. Most important, they picture the world as seen from the rich capital-exporting countries of Europe and North America—the global metropole. To ground knowledge of society in other experiences remains a fragile project. Yet only knowledge produced on a planetary scale is adequate to support the self-understanding of societies now being forcibly reshaped on a planetary scale. This book is concerned with how social science might operate democratically on such a scale.

The first section, 'Northern theory', examines how modern social science embeds the viewpoints, perspectives and problems of metropolitan . . .

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