9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN29 Social Theory

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 European Society or European Societies? I Building AA, AA.326

The Europe Refleted from Looking-Glass Self and the Others

Several answers are possible to the question: a single European society or European societies dissimilar in point of nation, class, ethnicity, region, and gender? A likely answer can be given with reference to discussions resulting from political erosion of the concept of "society" which is central to sociology. In this sense, the question can be answered in the light of discussions about death of society, assumption of a central role by nation-states instead of society or resurrection of communities instead of society.

There is another possible answer: construction by the West of itself and the others, namely non-western societies, ontologically and epistemologically. The common and universal values shared under the conceptualisation of European society construct the notion of "being European" for all European societies epistemologically and ontologically, and convey what is similar and common in all European societies. However each geographical region and society exists with its individual differences under this common framework while Europe involves common aspects for the geographical regions and societies signified by the life-world itself. So, a second answer is possible to the question based on the duality of universality and localness.

Both answers are quite logical in the opinion of a sociologist viewing social reality from the perspective of western sociological concepts. If, however, the sociologist concerned is Turkish and sees the West from a geographical region to the east of the West, other answers may emerge. The answer is shaped around the concept of "looking-glass self" and the function of sociology is evaluated based on this concept in our study. The European societies and the European-Western rationality are represented by a looking-glass and the "self" looking at, standing against and being reflected from this looking-glass refers to the life-world in the land where a Turkish sociologist belongs to. The paper will be composed by evaluating the discussion, the European society or European societies, within the concept of looking-glass self and constructed with references to the concepts of ego-I and the other.