Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

On the Communicative Geography of Global Sociology

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Sociology

On the Communicative Geography of Global Sociology

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article analyzes the two distinct communicative logics that inform the institutional geography and normative understanding of global sociology. The globalizing logic imagines a unitary global space that organizes sociological debate; the transnational logic envisions a series of overlapping sociological debates, often organized within a national context that is in the process of cosmopolitan, global, and transnational transformation. We argue that both logics shape communication in the sociological tradition, even if neither project is fully realized. The main challenge to global sociology, particularly in its globalizing form, is the existence of extremely influential spaces of sociological debate in North America and Europe, which reproduce the privileges of the larger and more powerful national associations. At the same time, these large, powerful national associations are becoming increasingly transnationalized, putting centre and periphery into dialogue, if in limited and uneven ways.

Resume. Cet article analyse deux logiques communicatives distinctes qui contribuent a la geographie institutionnelle et a l'approche normative de la sociologie globale. La logique globalisante imagine un espace global unitaire qui organise le debat sociologique; la logique transnationale envisage une serie de debats sociologiques imbriques qui s'organisent souvent dans le cadre d'un contexte national, alors que le contexte national est en train de subir une transformation cosmopolite, globale, et transnationale. Nous soutenons que ces deux logiques determinent la communication dans la tradition sociologique, meme si leurs projets ne se realisent pas. Le grand defi pour une sociologie globale, surtout sous forme globalisante, semble etre l'existence des lieux de debat sociologique extremement puissants en Amerique du nord et en Europe, qui, tout en ayant une influence globale, tendent a reproduire les priviliges des associations nationales les plus vastes et les plus puissantes. Pourtant, ces grandes associations nationales puissantes deviennent de plus en plus transnationalisees, de facon a etablir un dialogue entre centre et peripherie--mais encore une fois, selon des echanges limites et inegaux.

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Whatever else it may be, global sociology is a communicative project, consisting of mediated conversations and dialogues among sociologists worldwide. What is "global" about global sociology then, is not (or not only) a common object, such as globalization or planetary society; rather, it is the refashioning of cultural exchange among those who want to participate in the sociological tradition around the world. (2) We offer an analytical distinction between two communicative forms to analyze this global sociological project: the globalizing form and the transnational form. On this basis, we hope to render questions about the institutional--disciplinary, national, intellectual--nature of global sociology more precise.

There are actually two competing projects of global sociology. One of these, which we call the "globalizing form of global sociology," imagines a unitary global space that organizes sociological debate. The other project is the "transnational form of global sociology," which imagines a series of overlapping sociological debates organized within a national context in the process of cosmopolitan, global, and transnational transformation.

In addition to describing and comparing the analytical and normative viewpoints of these competing perspectives, we also examine the institutional conditions that constrain and enable their respective development. In order to do this, we limit our empirical gaze primarily to a particular institution, the International Sociological Association. We recognize that this is only one global sociological organization among many. (3) We also recognize that global sociology takes place in a variety of contexts, not all of which are organized in and through professional academic associations and journals. …

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