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Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas

Print version ISSN 0873-6529


SILVA, Augusto Santos. Being contemporaneous, surviving the classifications of sociological thinking. Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas [online]. 2014, n.76, pp.9-32. ISSN 0873-6529.

Sociological thinking is strongly influenced by dichotomous classifications. Especially influential is the one organised around the category ‘modernity’, opposing modern to pre-modern on the one hand and to post-modern on the other. Just what is it that we want to say when we use these categories and establish this kind of binary opposition? Do they still make sense in today’s sociological theory? Can they only be used in the shape of dichotomies, or are there other, more productive ways? This article seeks to answer these questions. It begins by demonstrating the huge cultural and theoretical influence of both the idea of modernity and the categories derived therefrom. It then shows how one should look at these categories in the light of the tension between them: we are still modern, and yet we are not just modern; before going on to say that reducing this tension to a simple dichotomy impoverishes and slants its sociological explanation. Finally, the article suggests a positioning that is simultaneously more modest and more open in epistemological terms: that we should simply define ourselves as contemporaneous - i.e. that we are part of our circumstances, but capable of mobilising all the possibilities they give us.

Keywords : modernity; networked knowledge.

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