Facing Modernity: Ambivalence, Reflexivity and Morality by Professor Barry Smart

By Professor Barry Smart

Barry clever bargains a wide-ranging and significant dialogue of ways problems with reflexivity, ethics and ethical accountability tell social and political notion. via a severe dialogue of the `ambivalent culmination' of social research, exemplified particularly by means of the paintings of Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo, Beck, Bourdieu, Goffman, Giddens, Levinas and Bauman, this e-book submits that an immense accountability of social enquiry this present day is to interact seriously with the ethical problems and moral dilemmas that have arisen with regards to modernity.

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Additional info for Facing Modernity: Ambivalence, Reflexivity and Morality (Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society)

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In such circumstances it is questionable whether trust can be restored through campaigns aiming to promote reassurance, and/or references to the prospect of further 'advances' in scientific research finding 'solutions to every problem' (Beck, 1992: 32, 45). The belief 'that we bend the world to our will by means of technology' has been a characteristic feature of modern society, but as Baudrillard adds, in fact 'it is the world that imposes its will upon us with the aid of technology, and the surprise occasioned by this turning of the tables is considerable' (1993: 153).

Whereas the founding figures in the discipline sought to radically differentiate sociology from other social and human sciences, contemporary analysts are inclined to draw attention to the blurring or undermining of disciplinary boundaries and the virtues, if not the necessity, of inter-disciplinary work (Giddens, 1987; Touraine, 1984, 1989; Bauman, 1992a). It is in this complex setting that the question 'Whither sociology' continues to be posed. What are the prospects for sociology? One common response is to attempt to resuscitate the aims and objectives of the longstanding tradition of sociological inquiry which extends back to the work of Saint-Simon and Comte.

It is on these grounds that Bauman finds sociology to be 'so internally ambiguous and inherently schizophrenic' (1992a: 209). From its inception sociology has been preoccupied with modernity as a general focus of analytic inquiry, but how that particular subject matter has been conceptualized and what methods and styles of inquiry have been invoked to bring it into focus have varied considerably, and they continue to do so. It has been argued that evidence of diversity in respect of conceptualization and method signifies that sociology remains in a pre-paradigmatic stage of development (Friedrichs, 1972), but it would be more appropriate to argue that sociology has always, from the very beginning, been effectively post-paradigmatic, that the prospect of 'progressing' to an agreed shared paradigm has never been a serious option for the discipline because fundamental differences in respect of style of analysis, Page 12 conceptualization of subject matter and method of investigation constitute an intrinsic feature of its field of inquiry, and reflect the increasingly fragmented and diverse character of modern social life (Levine, 1985).

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