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Towards a sociology of endings

Towards a sociology of endings
Towards a sociology of endings
Sociological commentaries on the future are frequently built around the claim that we are witnessing the beginning of a new social phenomenon as a result of an existing one coming to an end. Recent examples of discussions framed in terms of new beginnings include reference to the emergence of new forms of family, community, politics, slavery and the international division of labour, while the focus on endings includes analyses of the end of marriage, masculinity, work, class, capitalism, development, history, and the world as we know it. This paper argues that such claims exaggerate the discontinuous nature of social change, and that a more nuanced account of the processes involved in beginnings and endings needs to be developed. As a contribution to this project, ten propositions are advanced about the processes whereby old social phenomena come to an end and new ones emerge. For example, people's perceptions about whether they stand to gain or lose from the substitution of a new social arrangement for an old one are volatile, and this has major implications for the prediction of their behaviour. Taken together, the ten propositions offer a distinctive perspective on the understanding of long-term social change.
endings, social change, discontinuity, continuity
1360-7804
Crow, Graham
723761e4-bba1-4eba-9672-e7029f547fce
Crow, Graham
723761e4-bba1-4eba-9672-e7029f547fce

Crow, Graham (2005) Towards a sociology of endings. Sociological Research Online, 10 (3).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Sociological commentaries on the future are frequently built around the claim that we are witnessing the beginning of a new social phenomenon as a result of an existing one coming to an end. Recent examples of discussions framed in terms of new beginnings include reference to the emergence of new forms of family, community, politics, slavery and the international division of labour, while the focus on endings includes analyses of the end of marriage, masculinity, work, class, capitalism, development, history, and the world as we know it. This paper argues that such claims exaggerate the discontinuous nature of social change, and that a more nuanced account of the processes involved in beginnings and endings needs to be developed. As a contribution to this project, ten propositions are advanced about the processes whereby old social phenomena come to an end and new ones emerge. For example, people's perceptions about whether they stand to gain or lose from the substitution of a new social arrangement for an old one are volatile, and this has major implications for the prediction of their behaviour. Taken together, the ten propositions offer a distinctive perspective on the understanding of long-term social change.

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More information

Published date: 2005
Keywords: endings, social change, discontinuity, continuity

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 34135
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/34135
ISSN: 1360-7804
PURE UUID: 68462696-f49e-4767-bdd2-0012cbaeff46

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Date deposited: 16 May 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:51

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