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Sociology after 9/11

Wickham, G. (2008) Sociology after 9/11. In: The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) 2008 Conference, 2 - 5 December, Melbourne, Australia



The attacks on New York in September 2001 and subsequent attacks on other Western targets continue to serve as a stimulus for a number of academic disciplines. In this way, in a bid to remain relevant to the needs of post-9/11 Western governments, the likes of international relations, political science, middle eastern studies, and comparative religion have, at least to some extent, reassessed their objects. Sociology has not reacted in anything like the same manner, assuming, it seems, that its object needs no adjustment for the field to be as relevant to post-9/11 Western governments as any of the other disciplines listed. Taking ‘the social’ to be sociology’s fundamental object, this paper will argue that sociology’s stance is much more complacent than it should be. The paper sketches the contours of three understandings of the social that are available to sociology and emphasises three points: one, that while the basic-interaction understanding is still useful to the discipline’s work, it is not helpful in making the discipline relevant to the needs of post-9/11 Western governments; two, that the reason-morality understanding is actually an obstacle to this type of relevance; and three, that the politico-legal understanding needs to be given more credence within the discipline, for it is in fact the key to this type of relevance.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Copyright: © Copyright remains with the authors
Notes: In T. Marjoribanks et al. (eds) Re-imagining Sociology. Melbourne: University of Melbourne and The Australian Sociological Association
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