Divisions and polarizations are increasingly prevalent in contemporary societies. They are visible in growing income disparities, divisions between rural and urban areas, between locals and migrants, and also in rifts between the political establishment and popular sentiments. The recent rise of populist movements and social upheavals have challenged the liberal consensus and power blocs that have shaped the last decades in many societies. These contenders may also unleash social forces imbued with xenophobia and anti-democratic sentiments.
Sociology occupies a central position in relation to these processes. Sociology possesses tools capable of analyzing the complex manifestations of social differences and hierarchies. At the same time, sociologists have been the champions, at least in lecture halls, of precisely the aspects of cosmopolitan and tolerant open society that have been threatened. Yet sociologists have sometimes been reluctant to participate in public discourse, and those who do publicly engage often find their voices sidelined.
The discipline has tools able to address the problem of growing polarizations, and its ’voice’ in public debates is critical in this changing social landscape. This conference invites sociologists to take part in a critical examination of the current polarizing conditions – to include their empirical validity and intersectionality – as well as in a reassessment of sociology’s contributions to the public debate.
Welcome to Lund in March 2018!