“Inter”, “Multi”, “Trans” and “Post”: Sociology, Disciplinarity and Postmodernism

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Professor; Chief Researcher
National Research University “Higher School of Economics”
Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 2

This article analyzes the historical and theoretical aspects of interrelationship of sociology and other disciplines. The author examines the “positive” and “negative” sides of this interrelationship. The “positive” aspects can be seen in the explorations of the problems located on the borders of different disciplines, in the forms of inter-, multi- or trans-disciplinary studies, such as, for instance, the diffusion of innovations, gender or cultural studies. Even the thinkers, whose attitude towards sociology was sceptical or hostile, exercised a fruitful influence on the development of sociology. As examples it can be cited the theory of close and open societies by Henri Bergson or the treatment of hermeneutics by Wilhelm Dilthey. The “negative” influence is illustrated by the postmodernism in sociological theory. Although, according to some analysts, it is dead in this field, its influence continues there; besides, it is reviving in new guises (“postpostmodernism”, etc.). The author emphasizes such traits of postmodernism as the vagueness or senselessness of conceptual constructions; denial of interdisciplinary borders; devaluation of science and, at the same time, tendency to establish itself in it; pseudo-newness and pretention to ultra-newness; verbiage, shocking, faddishness, political partisanship, etc. These statements are illustrated by the case of Michel Foucault, the most characteristic and famous postmodernist in sociology. One of the main conclusion of this article is the need of sociology to be more selective, critical and reflexive in its choice of external influences.

Keywordstheoretical sociology, interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, postmodernism, Michel Foucault
Publication date25.03.2021
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