The Sociology of Development and the (Under)development of Sociology: Problems, Priorities and Policies Post-Covid
June 28 to 30 2023
The discipline of sociology had its origins in a period of tumultuous change in 18th and 19th century Europe. At the time, its pioneers sought to grapple with the deep-seated iconoclastic changes resulting from the related processes of industrialization, secularization, modernization, and political revolution taking place as many expressed their “disenchantment with the world.”
While the discipline and the social sciences in general, were actively implicated in the process of European colonization, in its export and application to the Caribbean during the 20th century, sociology was also used as a tool to help grapple with the tumultuous impact of the process of colonization on the development and underdevelopment of the region. However, it now had to be recast as an agent of de-colonization and change in so called peripheries which, at one time, were at the centre of Empire and European expansion abroad through the systems of slavery and indentureship. Fortunately, the establishment of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1948, and the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) in 1949, enabled sociology to become institutionalized through teaching and the conduct of sociological research on the region. This institutionalization would have played a key role in the post-war flourishing of early sociological writings on the region when indigenization was a major concern of theorization, in the quest for independent thought and action in the context of a still vibrant nationalism..
In light of its original mission or promise, the discipline must now confront several related and pertinent questions. For instance, to what extent has sociology and sociologists contributed to better defining, explaining, changing, or transforming the Caribbean condition(s) through appropriate teaching, research, theorisation, and public policy interventions in order to address many of its developmental challenges, both old and new? Or, has the discipline merely drifted aimlessly from one meta narrative to another be it in relation to social class, race, ethnicity, gender, and intersectionality with the devil taking the hindmost? Has it also drifted from one developmental theory to the other, be it modernization, dependency, world system, human development or, decolonization, in response to fashionable global trends? In reflecting on the purpose and practice of sociology, how can any of these frameworks help us to deal with another tumultuous period of instability in the world brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic? This virus did not only serve to lay bare the historically derived structures of inequality, poverty, discrimination, and dependency on a global scale, but also exacerbated them.
For more information or submit and abstract visit: http://caribsociology.org/