• BARBALET, Jack (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    The development of sociology arose through the historical experiences of the French Revolution, the European Industrial Revolution and European and American urbanization. The intellectual and technical development of sociology during the twentieth century was similarly undertaken in American and European institutions. This particular background of geographic location is necessarily associated with cultural predispositions, preoccupations and limitations. At the same time sociology as a discipline has universalistic pretensions, assuming that it can be applied to social processes and social structures at all times and places. This outlook is encouraged by the global hegemony of ‘metropolitan’ research and scholarship associated with internationally dominant political and economic power.

    A number of researchers have argued for the recognition of local and indigenous scholarly traditions in the further development of social science in order to overcome the limitations of the perceived ‘Euro-centricism’ of much current sociology. This is particularly evident in Chinese cultural areas where endeavours to sinicize sociology have been undertaken during the last half century. This has included the development of sociological theory founded on Confucian philosophy. This strategy is not inappropriate as all sociology has a philosophical foundation and Anglo-American sociology is often analyzed and promoted in terms of its distinctive philosophical bases. The difficulty with a Confucian foundation of sociology is its limitation in explaining only Chinese cultural formations whereas the rationale for sociology as a ‘science of society’ is that it can explain social processes and social structure irrespective of the cultural complexion of the society subjected to sociological investigation.

    There is another indigenous Chinese philosophical tradition which arguably has broader application than Confucianism that the PI of this proposed research has already demonstrated has general relevance to sociological analysis. This is the tradition founded on Daodejing, a work extensively discussed by philosophers but neglected by sociologists. The proposed research is to support and advance the research already begun by the PI in examining the relevance of the Daodejing for the development of sociological theories concerning action, power, self, interest and social structure that are not only distinctive but complement and augment mainstream sociology in crucial ways. In this manner a philosophical basis for the development of sociological theory, drawn from Chinese traditions but demonstrably of general relevance in theory building, stands as a genuine alternative to much mainstream theorizing. In this manner the overall competence of sociology is enhanced and its universalistic aspirations realistically encouraged.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1431/12/15


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