Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS


ANOVASOFIE Streszczenie raportu

Project ID: 506035
Źródło dofinansowania: FP6-CITIZENS
Kraj: Austria

Final Report Summary - ANOVASOFIE (Analysing and overcoming the sociological fragmentation in Europe)

The ANOVASOFIE project's main goal was in the analysis of the fragmentation of European sociology. It also tried to provide instruments in order to overcome this fragmentation. The project included, therefore, studies about the status of sociology as a discipline in order to understand its special problems of being fractured into different subfields and national sociologies that do not communicate with each other sufficiently. This is in fact a study about non-communication or about the disability of communication within scientific field.

The project had an analytic and a pragmatic aspect. In order to satisfy this two attempts, ANOVASOFIE included two main research packages:
1) the creation of a virtual library (pragmatic aspect); and
2) the study of sociologists who are involved as public intellectuals and the investigation of the structure of some national sociologies in order to address the problem and the processes of transmitting sociological knowledge (analytic aspect).
Whereas the second research package helps to understand the fragmentation of European sociology, the first one should help to overcome it.

ANOVASOFIE is in itself an example of European sociology because it is a cooperation of sociologists from eight European nations (Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and Turkey). Therefore, the researchers of this project became very much aware of the difficulties of sociological cooperation beyond language borders. In addition to the work packages, the project was organised in five meetings which took place in Graz, Munich, Istanbul, Stockholm and Dublin. At the Dublin meeting a conference had been hosted where invited speakers enlarged our scope of the original theme. The Austrian, the German, the Turkish and the Irish research group organised these meetings.

The fragmentation of European sociology is mainly due to:
- language barriers: relative isolation of language communities. It exists because culture und understanding culture are the main objects of sociology;
- relative isolation of national sociological scenes in respect to their 'style' of internal communication (their kind of practicing sociology), and the 'social problems' they perceive as being important to sociology;
- coexisting paradigms.

The rise of the nation states stimulated sociological thinking through the creation of new forms of language, institutions and power. Language barriers limit both the European and the sociological integration process. Unlike many other social sciences, sociology seems to be inextricably bound to the destiny of nation states because it is one of their very products. With the rise of nation states in Europe standardised national languages came into existence.

The introduction of national languages also supported a stronger standardisation of social settings such as communication, education and research. Not only a small elite of people capable of fluent Latin or French as their second language were now able to communicate, learn and research about social live. Communication was supported through mass circulation of books, journals and newspapers. Education and learning became more democratised through the expansion of schools, colleges and universities. Thereby, a bigger fraction of society became mass consumers of expert knowledge. Research was stimulated through the expansion of university systems and academies. The nation-wide standardisation of universities also supported scholar mobility. It was the nation state that provided the cocoon for speaking and debating about society in a modern sense. Millions of people who became connected to each other via the same educational background and a refined language began to debate about what we today would call 'social problems'.

Whereas public debates about social problems promoted sociological theories (which became sometimes intellectually well-organised weapons for certain political argumentations) managing the poor inspired quantitative research methods. The necessity of social engineering supported sociology as a technique of domination (Herrschaftstechnik). Matters of drafts, population control, public administration, policing, registration, official statistics, surveys or the organisation of the welfare state could only be handled through detailed knowledge about the society.

The role of techniques of domination for sociology can be demonstrated by several cases. In the course of the ANOVASOFIE project, case studies of sociology in three countries (Austria, Ireland and Turkey) were carried out along two lines:
a) analysing the internet discussion forum; and
b) researching the institutional history in these countries.
Above all, additional information from the Swedish case can be gathered by research about the Myrdals. Thus, some techniques of domination in the form of reports (Sweden), nation building (Ireland) and state ideology (Austria) can exemplify the interrelation between states and sociology.

The two cases of Austria and Ireland give some evidence that the creation of state building and national sociology was somehow linked to each other. Early Irish university sociology functioned as an important intellectual movement to support the young Irish independency (with the help of the Irish catholicism).

Before the internationalisation of Irish sociology took place, it mainly followed the guidelines of the Irish catholic church. The tragedy of small countries' sociology lies in its natural narrowness compared to the alternatives of internationalisation. Integrating national sociologies, however, should not become an aim without regarding the two major perils of this endeavour:
- internationalisation may lead to a system of domination;
- transcending national language communities may result in misunderstanding or non-understanding social phenomena.

In the nineteenth century, public intellectuals started to debate about 'social problems'. Thus, public intellectuals began to formulate problems of later sociology. The rise of public intellectuals, however, would not have been possible without the introduction of a modern media systems (regular newspapers, magazines etc.), the establishment of national languages, and the democratisation of Western societies. The educated middle classes became important for the formation of the public sphere. It was this social group which was mainly engaged as intellectuals, readers, and listeners of social debates. Presumably in France a prototype of modern public intellectual appeared first who were concerned with social issues. Here, even today, sociologists participate in public debates more frequently than in many other European countries. In a case study about how French sociologists perform as public intellectuals in the French newspaper Le Monde, Laurent Jeanpierre and Sébastien Mosbah Natanson studied characteristics of French public sociologists.

In Europe, mainly two types of sociologists as public intellectuals emerged during the nineteenth century: academic sociologists as public intellectuals and public intellectuals as sociologists. The sociologists who were engaged as public intellectuals and who brought their expertise to a wider audience often differed strongly in style, intention and effectiveness. In the ANOVASOFIE project, at least three different categories of sociologists as public intellectuals were identified: social engineers, disengaged public sociologists, and partisan sociologists. 'Conform to predominant political system' means that these sociologists do not reject the political system they are living in. They may be critical about particular political actions or campaigns. However, they do not intend or do not wish to replace the existing political structure. Moreover, these sociologists tend to participate actively in reform programs implemented by the state. They are not suspicious of the state-organisation itself and, therefore, they tend to support technocratic politics. And they see themselves as experts within such a politics of social engineering. Habermas criticised this position of experts: he means that such politics leads to the division of labour amongst experts who are not longer able to understand the wider context of society. The use of technology and social engineering fosters the development of a narrow understanding of society based on rational procedures among these experts. Therefore, they also tend to interpret the world in the focus of such narrow rational procedures. According to Habermas, such sociologists are not willing to conform to the predominant political system. Some of them try to detach themselves from the pragmatic world of experts. Some seek to find a new social base without hierarchies to discuss and implement reforms.

Not only technical and economic standards were necessary for creating a public sphere. Cultural standardisation within the framework of the nation state was also of major importance. Thus, Émile Zola's 'J'Accuse' would not have been possible without the existence of a nationwide newspaper system and readers with common educational and cultural background. The Habermas-Derrida of 2003 declaration clearly followed the steps of Zola in the intention towards a European public sphere. The interesting point is that it did not succeed to the same degree because modern Europe lacks the cultural coherence of Zola's France. It is characteristically for the European fragmentation that this declaration was published in two languages (German and French), in two different newspapers (Frankfurter Allgemeine and Libération) under two different headlines ('After the war: the rebirth of Europe', FAZ, 31 May 2003 and 'A plea for a common foreign policy: the demonstrations of 15 February against the war in Iraq designed a new European public space', Libération, 31 May 2003). Even the meanings of the German and the French headlines are different. All this differences are possible because there is nothing like a common European public sphere.

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Christian FLECK
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