Is it possible to read history of sociology as history of receptions?

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13th Conference of the European Sociological Association (ESA), Atina, Greece, 29 August - 01 September 2017, pp.967

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Atina
  • Country: Greece
  • Page Numbers: pp.967
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


There has been an increasing interest in new ways of grasping history of sociology since the 1960s, as seen in collections of Tiryakian, Lepenies, Dayé and Moebius. As a result of the general orientation from an abstract, pure scientific, isolating and intellectual approach toward a concrete, institutional, contextual, relational and sociological one, history of sociology seems more like sum of scientific networks rather than an aggregate of abstract theories or a simple “history of thoughts”. Even if there are certain continuities in the historiography of sociology, such as focusing on sociologists/classics, theories/schools of thought, and national traditions, it is obvious that these “old” focuses are no longer handled from old points of view. Parallel to this transition, memories, biographies, book reviews, dairies, memoirs of and correspondence between sociologists become new research objects. This also widens the scope of history of sociology, and new units of analysis come forward such as membership to schools and circles, institutional and generational identities, socio-cultural and political background. The attempt to read history of sociology as a history of receptions (Rezeptionsgeschichte) is a great example for this shift. According to this relational and sociological approach, a generic and universal reading regarding a specific sociologist, school of sociology or national tradition has to be replaced by a multitude of viewpoints stemming from diverse locations in time and space. Instances for this research program would be Max Weber’s reception in France, Chicago School’s reception in Germany or German sociology’s reception in America in certain periods. Moving from previous attempts, this paper aims to question possibility of reading history of sociology based on diverging or converging receptions stemming from various contexts.