Towards the Global Social Sciences? Some Preliminary Reflections

Towards the Global Social Sciences? Some Preliminary Reflections

Colombo E.

Prof., Department of Social and Political Science, University of Milan (Università degli Studi di Milano), Italy

ID of the Article: 7808

For citation:

Colombo E. Towards the Global Social Sciences? Some Preliminary Reflections. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2019. No 9. P. 3-18


The transformations brought about by globalization processes have put social sciences under stress. Several voices, especially from the so-called ‘South’, claim a radical revision – if not total rejection – of the (Western) social sciences. It has become evident that the tool-kit of concepts and method inherited from modernity seems incapable of grasping the complexity and variability of current social experience, characterized by a plurality of voices, interest, historical traditions. The awareness of a plurality of different perspectives that characterize the social sciences well beyond their classical (western) formulation seems to push social sciences towards two opposed direction. On the one hand, part of social sciences tries to regain the solid ground of a shared knowledge, overcoming diversity and particularity, running after a rigorous definition of methodological and conceptual tools that can help founding a renewed universalistic comprehension of the complexity of current societies. On the other hand, another relevant part of social sciences seems to surrender to the unavoidability of partial, instable and biased knowledge. The paper presents the rationale of the different positions and suggest integrating the current reflections about the ‘theoretical and methodological’ content of social sciences with a reflection about the ‘practices’ of doing social sciences.

social theory; globalization; complexity; postcolonialism; universalism; relativism


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