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Becker, Johannes; Burchardt, Marian

Doing Global Sociology

Qualitative methods and biographical becoming after the postcolonial critique


Historical Social Research, 48, 4


This HSR Special Issue takes a globally comparative perspective on processes of biographical becoming in order to illustrate ways of doing “global sociology” after the postcolonial critique. The critical interrogation of sociology’s standard assumptions, the postcolonial questioning of Western epistemologies more broadly, and of the conditions of sociological knowledge production, have produced a sense of crisis; a crisis with regard to the validity, usefulness and justifiability of theoretical paradigms, concepts and narratives. However, rarely have scholars extended these interrogations into the realm of sociology’s methods and methodologies. If sociology’s theories can be criticized in this regard because they are based on flawed understandings of agency, action, social relations and so on, what about the methods through which sociologists gather data, interpret these data, and theorize them through practices of generalization and abstraction? Are all methods equally valid and justifiable in all cultural and geographical contexts? What does it mean for sociology on a global scale to account for the existence of divergent methodological approaches and different forms of concept-building that arise from them? What kinds of methods and procedures of comparison, context variation and so on, enable us to generalize findings and to produce hypotheses, arguments, and formulations that make research in one site or society relevant for research in other sites and societies in our globalized world?
In this special issue, sociologists from diverse backgrounds tackle these questions through empirical case studies and theorizations ranging from the biographies of femicide convicts in Argentina and gig workers in Abidjan to the professional careers of Pentecostal pastors in Cape Town and life histories of former members of military groups in Cambodia.

Contributions from ZMO
Becker, Johannes; Burchardt, Marian : Doing Global Sociology
Burchardt, Marian; Becker, Johannes : Subjects of God?