Conference Presentations

Global Complexities and the Rise of Global Justice Movement: A New Consciousness?

The paper argues that the impacts of current global transformations on collective-networked actions have become too complex to be explained satisfactorily by dominant dualist perspectives, including the New Social Movement and post-industrial approaches. Global transformations have not followed any linear path of development and there have always been structural opportunities to be exploited by the forces of growing resistance. As I will discuss, it is the ‘complexity’ of current global changes (and not any specific globalization trend in itself) that accounts for the emergence of new modes of consciousness within the global field of resistance. Four dimensions of global complexity will be delineated and their impacts on the global justice movement will be discussed. These four dimensions are as follows: (1) uneven global interconnection, (2) increasing socio-cultural fragmentations and economic inequalities, (3) the emergence of a post-Cold War multi-axial hierarchical power structure across the world, (4) escalating new uncertainties and risks.
Focusing on the ‘complexity’ of globalization processes and their contradictory, multidimensional, and partial nature will help us understand the cognitive transformations in the global field of resistance. In such an understanding, what is finally important to be investigated is the ways through which social movement actors in the field are facing up to global complexities. Since the existing vocabulary of sociological concepts for capturing these complexities is quite limited, I draw on helpful notions from ‘complexity theories’ and apply them in this article in an ad hoc way.

2009 Global Studies Conference, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 30 May to 1 June 2009

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Seminar
Sociology of Dissident Knowledge



In spite of the recent growing emphasis on the ideational dimension of collective action, many theoretical attempts and the studies influenced by them evidence significant problems in explaining the historical emergence and development of movements’ cognitions. These problems stem from: (1) a failure at the metatheoretical level, that is, their failure to hold an effective and integrative relation between ‘changing social structures’, ‘dynamic patterns of experience’ (or historical agency) and the actors’ social consciousness; (2) inadequacy in the translation of metatheoretical assumptions into analytical models. This failure, in turn, is related to the overriding reductionist tendency among the theories to ignore the autonomous existence of cognition with respect to both human agency and social structures.

Dr. S. A. Hamed Hosseini will start his lecture with examining the capacity of the conventional theoretical endeavors to conceptualize and explain social movements. Then he will argue for the necessity of developing an integrative approach according to which the existential autonomy of collective ‘cognition’, in relation to both practical subjectivity of movement actors and conditioning social ‘structure’, is adequately acknowledged. The basics of such a synthesizing approach, coined here as ‘sociology of dissident knowledge’, will be finally outlined.

Speaker/Host: Dr. S. A. Hamed Hosseini
Venue: Haydon Allen 2175 (Building 22)
Date: Monday, 4 December 2006
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

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Beyond the Practical Dilemmas and Conceptual Reductions: the Emergence of an Accommodative Consciousness in the Alternative Globalization Movement



This paper attempts to show the emergence of a new ideological trend within the global field of resistance against the corporate-led globalization. This ideological trend, coined here the alter-globalization trend, is ideal-typically constructed in terms of its associated mode of social thought. The newly developed perspectives and cognitive transformations inside the global field of resistance convey a new mode of in-praxis thought, named here accommodative cognition. This heralds the formation of alternative principles for creating emancipatory knowledges and flexible solidarities. The paper draws on certain discursive evidence within alter-globalization to show that the complexity of globalizing society and contemporary collective action is realized through the open spaces of dialogue and dispute introduced by the movement. This has resulted in the emergence of intellectual demands for transcending contradictions that are rooted in the post-70s disputes between modernist and post-modernist, and materialist and post-materialist thought. Two other features of such a new mode of cognition are: (1), a growing inclination for cutting across the incompatible conceptions of social polarities (around the issues like gender, race, cultural identity, individuality, and community) in establishing a flexible solidarity based on adapting the Other’s interest and identity into the process of affirming the Self; and (2) understanding the totality of globalization in terms of its structural unevenness, contradictions and multidimensionality.

International Conference of ISA Research Committee 48 (Other Worlds, Social movements and the making of alternatives), Sydney, Australia, 28-29 April 2005. Available here

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Between ‘Social Cognition’ and ‘Social Knowledge’: Retrieving ‘Sociology of Cognition’ as a New Synthetic Space of Study

This paper starts with a general terminology of the term “cognition” and then reviews the social theories which have, implicitly or explicitly, addressed the cognitive aspects of social life. In this review I focus on theoretical approaches which target the “cognition” as their major subject of argument whether under the rubric of this term or under any other synonym terms. While there has been no reason to restrict or reduce “cognition” to any level of analysis, prevailed dissension between science and humanities has dismantled its presumable totality into dichotomic and even confrontational levels of analysis: more importantly, macro/micro, subjective/objective, agentic/structural, and everyday life/institutional levels. Through the review, we can recognize two major supposedly opposite fronts in dealing with cognition and knowledge: (1) realist determinism; (2) subjectivist constructionism. This division has prevailed in social science until recent challenges by critical realism and synthesizing trends since last decade. As far as the definitions of social reality (the basic ontological assumptions) among theories are fragmented and differentiated, the conception of cognition as a social reality is also fragmented. This seems normal, but while the number of integrative and synthetic developments in defining social reality has grown increasingly during two last decades, this trend has lingered on dealing with cognition. Extending attempts have mostly focused on the possible links between levels while less recognizing an ‘autonomous existential bases’ of cognition as a multilevel phenomenon beyond the mind. As I will argue there are good prospects to (re)construct the concept of cognition within a multidimensional and comprehensive model in which the contradictory whole of concept and its autonomous existential bases are well recognized. I will call for retrieving “sociology of cognition” based on a new concept, “societal cognition”. Societal cognitions are dynamic structures which are procedurally under deconstruction and reconstruction by different social forces (cognizants) and simultaneously determine the capability of all affected social agents to cognize their own social world.

Post-Graduate Conference, ANU, Canberra, Australia. 17-18 July 2003

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