Hegel`s theory of recognition: in order to be a full subject, each needs to be recognized by the other

In Hegel you have essentially two actors encountering one another and each is a subject, but in order to be a full subject, each needs to be recognized by the other. Each affirms the other as a subject in its own right that is simultaneously equal and different from me. If both people can affirm that, then you have a reciprocal egalitarian, symmetrical process of recognition. But, famously, in the master-slave dialectic, they encounter one another on highly asymmetrical, unequal terms, terms of domination or subordination. Then you get non-reciprocal recognition.

Nancy Fraser (2016)


Historicism = our thoughts are “socially located”

Historicism especially as expressed in the work of Wilhelm Dilthey, immediately preceded the sociology of knowledge. The dominant theme here was an overwhelming sense of the relativity of all perspectives on human events, that is, of the inevitable historicity of human thought. The historicist insistence that no historical situation could be understood except in its own terms could readily be translated into an emphasis on the social situation of thought. Certain historicist concepts such as “situational determination” and “seat in life” could be directly translated as referring to the “social location” of thought.


“Ideology” and “false consciousness”

The sociology of knowledge in­herited from Marx not only the sharpest formulation of its central problem (that is “man´s consciousness is determined by his social being”) but also some of its key concepts, among which should be mentioned particularly the concepts of ‘ideology’ (ideas serving as weapons for social interests) and ‘false consciousness’ (thought that is alienated from the real social being of the thinker).

Experimental governance and pre-scientific knowledge

In a previous post it was addressed the concept of experimental governance, understood “as a means to launch an environmental project in spite of uncertainties and uphold the project without disrupting the overall process” (Gross, M., & Heinrichs, 2010:283). This point, the authors continues “is wholly pragmatic to create and facilitate the building of a community of inquirers who locally deliberate social problems, form hypothesis about appropiate means and ends of practice, and put their assumptions to test”.

In this context, insofar non-scientist community members are enriching the research process with “pre-scientific” knowledge (formation of hypothesis and ends of practics to be test) they are taking actively part of such process. This moves away the experimental governance from the Habermas communicative approach or “participatory paradigm”. The pragmatist ideas developed by Habermas “have trickled down to environmental planning discourse since the 1970s and researchin environmental sociology has examined a wide range of participatory decision processes” (Gross, M., & Heinrichs, 2010:282). However, the authors argue, in the ideal case, it is not enough to bring local actors into deliberation where their varying presumptions and biases will succumb to the force of the better argument (by scientist and practicioners?). Hence, the actual power to have a say in political decision making is easily taken away from the participants (the lack of arguments among local actors and the consistent of the scientifist discourse ultimate take the former ones away from decision making. Public participation is reduced to a information session where scientist show how powerful they are in base of their consistent discourse). Furthermore, the authors suggest that the Habermassian ideal type case could not be further from real-world decision making which is characterized by many unknows and uncertainies that cannot even be fathomed via risk assessment and computer modeling, let alone by mere citizen participation.

But the experimental governance consists of not only bring local actors into deliberation but also allow them to “form hypothesis about appropiate means and ends of practice, and put their assumptions to test”. In other words, the experimental governance consist of allowing local actors for forming hypothesis based on their everyday experience, i.e. pre-scientific knowledge, as a previous step to objetivize the phenomon, it is, to produce scientific knowledge.

Gross, M., & Heinrichs, H. (Eds.). (2010). Environmental sociology: European perspectives and interdisciplinary challenges. Springer Science & Business Media.

The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies

In this provocative and broad-ranging work, the authors argue that the ways in which knowledge – scientific, social and cultural – is produced are undergoing fundamental changes at the end of the twentieth century. They claim that these changes mark a distinct shift into a new mode of knowledge production which is replacing or reforming established institutions, disciplines, practices and policies.

Identifying features of the new mode of knowledge production – reflexivity, transdisciplinarity, heterogeneity – the authors show how these features connect with the changing role of knowledge in social relations. While the knowledge produced by research and development in science and technology is accorded central concern, the authors also outline the changing dimensions of social scientific and humanities knowledge and the relations between the production of knowledge and its dissemination through education.

Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty

“Re-Thinking Science” presents an account of the dynamic relationship between society and science. Despite the mounting evidence of a much closer, interactive relationship between society and science, current debate still seems to turn on the need to maintain a ‘line’ to demarcate them. The view persists that there is a one-way communication flow from science to society – with scant attention given to the ways in which society communicates with science.

The authors argue that changes in society now make such communications both more likely and more numerous, and that this is transforming science not only in its research practices and the institutions that support it but also deep in its epistemological core. To explain these changes, Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons have developed an open, dynamic framework for re-thinking science.

The authors conclude that the line which formerly demarcated society from science is regularly transgressed and that the resulting closer interaction of science and society signals the emergence of a new kind of science: contextualized or context-sensitive science. The co-evolution between society and science requires a more or less complete re-thinking of the basis on which a new social contract between science and society might be constructed. In their discussion the authors present some of the elements that would comprise this new social contract.

Why “there is no such thing as economic science”?

I have recently referred to an interview made to Piketty where he states “there is no such thing as economic science. There are social sciences”. He argues that “economic processes involve social control” and that “we should teach ‪economics‬ much more in conjunction with economic‪ ‎history‬, social history, political history, political science”

That said, the truth is that Piketty’s argument is deductible from the classic economic sociology concept embeddedness. It refers to the degree to which economic activity is constrained by non-economic institutions. The term was created by economic historian Karl Polanyi as part of his Substantivist approach. Polanyi argued that in non-market societies there are no pure economic institutions to which formal economic models can be applied. In these cases economic activities such as “provisioning” are “embedded” in non-economic kinship, religious and political institutions. In market societies, in contrast, economic activities have been rationalized, and economic action is “disembedded” from society and able to follow its own distinctive logic, captured in economic modeling. Polanyi’s ideas were widely adopted and discussed in anthropology in what has been called the “Formalist vs Substantivist” debate. Subsequently, the term “embeddedness” was further developed by economic sociologist Mark Granovetter, who argued that even in market societies, economic activity is not as disembedded from society as economic models would suggest.