Gennaro Ascione

The unbearable lightness of method. Concept formation in global social science

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: methodology, concept formation, eurocentrism, decolonial, world-system.

Four decades of radical criticisms against eurocentrism in historical sociology manifest today through a side effect: the allergy to elaborate a more adequate method enabling global studies to cope with multiplex challenges coming from heterogeneous geohistorical as well as epistemological standpoints. To be sure, the task of placing new methodological cornerstones urges, even though it remains inexplicit. For it solicits automatic suspicion of neo-positivist «conspiracies» or «neo-colonialism» of knowledge whereas scrutinized from postcolonial, decolonial or post-Western perspectives. In turn, these same critical perspectives do not acknowledge their own inability to steam an appropriate methodology out of a pressing demand: struggling against the prejudice that the instances they express are in fact exclusively confined to provincial, exotic or solipsistic particularisms; therefore never as universalistic as the dominant ones. Here contradiction arises that calls for theoretical formulation in terms of methodological problem. The problem is enunciated as follows: how should research about large-scale/long-term processes of social change be conducted once agreed upon the world as a single yet multi-layered spacetime of analysis, in order to cope with the asymmetrical power relations that materialize colonial history through heterarchies of class, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, knowledge, cosmology and ecology? To answer this question, the paper herewith faces one major issue among the many this formulation raises: concept formation. The argument develops in four steps: formulating the limits of Eurocentrism in terms of methodological issues within the social sciences at large; unthinking conceptualization in historical sociology; exploring heuristic pathways in postcolonial and decolonial thinking; formalize six methodological directions toward a protocol of concept formation for global social sciences.

Trova nel catalogo di Worldcat

Article first page

Article first page