Informalisation, Sociological Theory and Social Diagnosis
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In the last 30 years or so books about the impact of the recent globalization spurt on social relations, politics, culture, social selves and identity formation within Western nation-states have been legion, coming from both sociology and other sources such as journalism and social commentary. Also, in the social sciences, economic diagnoses of our time—though much narrower in scope—seem to have the upper hand in terms of influence (Stiglitz 2002; Martell 2010; Picketty 2014). This chapter shows how the theory of informalization can illuminate in a unique way the nature of those social, psychological and behavioural effects, something which can also potentially have a bearing on the adequacy of some of the strident condemnations of society often being made. At the same time, it can illuminate the shortcomings and distortions of the work of many of those social critics working from different traditions on the same problems. As Karl Mannheim said, when we embark upon social research, ‘[W]e drag along … intentional and unintentional misrepresentations—a false mythology. Sociology brushes these things aside with ease (Mannheim 1931: 160–161)’.
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