Morality as rebellion: towards a partial reconciliation of Bauman and Durkheim

Dawson, M. (2017) Morality as rebellion: towards a partial reconciliation of Bauman and Durkheim. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 18(3), pp. 255-273. (doi: 10.1080/1600910X.2017.1381133)

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This paper seeks to bring the sociologies on morality developed by Zygmunt Bauman and Émile Durkheim into conversation. Rather than adopting an approach which sees their perspectives as opposed, it will be suggested that while there are differences in their broad approaches there is also a hitherto uncommented upon overlap concerning the possibility of moral rebellion. For Bauman, inspired by those who were part of the resistance to the Holocaust, this is seen to reside in the pre-social moral impulse to be for the other while Durkheim links this to the role of education as a form of moral socialization. By exploring these links, we can see that both rely upon a conception of the conscience which, expressing the moral ideal lying behind our morally imperfect world, inspires actors to act morally in immoral times. The paper concludes by suggesting that this argument reflects recent claims concerning the potentially humanist elements of a sociological perspective and long-running debates on the potentially ‘oversocialized’ conception of individuals common to sociology. Therefore, this paper raises wider questions about the notion of the human resting behind sociological ideas.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dawson, Dr Matt
Authors: Dawson, M.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):2159-9149
Published Online:27 September 2017

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