CFP: Special Issue of the Austrian Journal of Sociology
(ÖZS – Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie)
*“Potentials of Pragmatist Social Theory. Contributions on the occasion of
the 150th anniversary of George Herbert Mead's birth”*
From the beginning the reception of American Pragmatism has shown striking
peculiarities and ambiguities. This holds especially true for the European
reception of Pragmatism. Here, it was conceived to be a kind of “logical
utilitarism” (Émile Durkheim), a “philosophy of the Dollar”, a shallow
American reception of Nietzsche (Georg Simmel) or the reduction of all
thought to *Herrschaftswissen *(knowledge of domination; Max Scheler).
Interesting similarities to other philosophical schools and/or mutual
influences – e.g. to phenomenology, vitalism, philosophical anthropology,
or the Durkheim School – were ignored.
These distorting interpretations of Pragmatism have determined its
discussion and reception in sociology down to the present day. On the one
hand, authors like George Herbert Mead and Charles Horton Cooley have been
canonized as sociological classics since the 1970s. Especially, Symbolic
Interactionism refers to Mead and secured his place in sociological
consciousness. On the other hand, one can hardly find an accurate treament
of Mead’s and Cooley’s basic ideas in contemporary sociological textbooks.
Often, the colloquial and the sociological meaning of the terms
“pragmatist” and “pragmatic” are blurred by ascribing an exclusive focus on
usefulness and utility to Pragmatism. Even the “renaissance of pragmatism”
since the end of the 1970s – closely linked to Richard Rorty’s seminal
study *Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature *– has to a great extent been
ignored by sociologists. Aside from Jürgen Habermas, the sociological
reception of pragmatism was marginal.
In recent years, however, the voices emphasizing the “incredible modernity”
(Hans Joas) of American pragmatism increase. Besides efforts to develop a
systematic Pragmatist theory of action (Joas), a growing number of
positions in social theory refer to and deal with Pragmatism – at present,
for example, the “praxis theories” of Bourdieu, Thévenot, Latour etc.
Furthermore, one can identify substantial similarities to current results
in the cognitive sciences such as Michael Tomasello's cognitive psychology
of culture. Additionally, more and more empirical studies in sociology make
use of pragmatist concepts – for instance, Jens Beckert in the area of
The modernity of Pragmatism is – in the main – based on its anti-dualistic
impulse. Because of this impulse, Pragmatism attaches crucial sociological
importance to intersubjectivity, corporeity, creativity, and emotions –
topics alltogether neglected by sociology for a long time. More
consequently than other Pragmatists, Mead applies this anti-dualistic
perspective to the relation of the individual and society. This explains
the particular relevance of his work to sociology which has been burdened
with dualistic conceptions from its beginning. According to Mead, humans
are intrinsically social beings who develop self-consciousness only through
social interaction and communication. On this basis, individuals develop
the possibility to reflect on their own actions and their social
environment. In this way they become able to intentionally form their
social interrelations and to re-organize them when faced with problems
which permanently arise in society.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of George Herbert Mead's birth in
2013 the Austrian Journal of Sociology (Österreichische Zeitschrift für
Soziologie – ÖZS) will publish a special issue to explore the potentials of
pragmatist social theory. The volume aims at the systematic and creative
continuation and development of sociological Pragmatism. We invite
contributions to the following topics:
• critical discussions of the sociological and philosophical foundations of
• analyses of important approaches to Pragmatist theory of sociality and
society (e.g. Herbert Blumer, Anselm Strauss, David R. Maines, Richard
Bernstein, Hans Joas or others),
• studies on possible “synergy effects” with current findings in
psychology, anthropology and the cognitive sciences, •discussions of
Pragmatist elements in other sociological approaches, similarities
and differences to competing perspectives, • examples of empirical
Pragmatist social research and Pragmatist philosophy of science,
• evaluations of the potentials of Pragmatism for normative social theory
and social criticism.
The editors of the volume invite authors to submit papers which critically
discuss Pragmatist thought in sociology and/or make a contribution to its
further development. In particular, contributions which deal with Mead`s
social theory and philosophy are welcomed.
Please, submit your abstracts (300 – 500 words) until May 18th, 2012.
Feedback will be given until May 31st. The length of articles should not
exceed 55,000 characters including spaces. The deadline for submitting the
papers is November 30th, 2012. Papers will be subjected to a blind review
process by two peers.
Please send the abstracts to the editors:
*Frithjof Nungesser*, University of Graz and Max Weber Center, University
of Erfurt: firstname.lastname@example.org *Franz Ofner*, University of