Community studies: fifty years of theorization
Sociological Research Online, 7, (3 Special issue)
Full text not available from this repository.
This paper reviews the ways in which sociologists in the second half of the twentieth century attempted to make sense of the major trends unfolding in their societies. It focuses in particular on the way in which sociologists have responded to the legacy of the founding figures in terms of their identification of trends such as rationalization, bureaucratization, and proletarianization. The proliferation of other trends captured by words ending with the suffix -ization (for example globalization, McDonaldization, and postmodernization) is noted, and the argument is developed that this style of theorising is valuable but problematic. It is valuable because it encourages sociologists to think comparatively, given that the trends identified necessarily have reference points in the past and that their uneven progress in different societies (or other social units) can be compared. It is problematic because there is no agreement on what constitutes evidence that these processes are unfolding, nor on the need for such evidence. A further problem relates to the issue of how these processes are considered to relate to each other. Research undertaken in the field of community in Britain and beyond over the period 1950-2000 is drawn upon to illustrate these points and to support the argument that concepts drawn from theorization at a general level are essential tools in the analysis of contemporary trends. It is also used to support the related argument that such theorization needs to be grounded in empirical evidence if it is to go beyond mere speculation.
Actions (login required)