From Time to Space? Current Conceptual Challenges in History and Sociology
3rd Annual Seminar of the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS), 7-9 February 2011
History and sociology are two disciplines that traditionally organise their research in terms of time. It is difficult to imagine historical research without temporal selectivity and typological chronologies, while the emergence of sociology is usually linked with ideas of modernity and the forward movement of society along linear trajectories. Central questions have been continually framed in a historical and sociological semantic of "Tradition/Modernity", "Re-/Evolution", or "Stagnation/Progress" etc.
These semantics still play a crucial role, but both disciplines are now facing a shift towards research questions that are framed in terms of spatial concepts. As concepts like "World Society", "Entangled Histories", "Transnationalism", "Multi-Locality" or "histoire croisée" suggest, research is increasingly represented in topological forms and structures. Today it seems that studies on 'modernisation' will be almost entirely replaced by research on 'globalisation'. These conceptual shifts challenge central and classical approaches in both disciplines.
Exchanges and dialogues between history and sociology have proven to be successful in the past, and the aim of the conference "From Time to Space? Current Conceptual Challenges in History and Sociology" was to revive these synergetic effects by broadening conceptual and methodological perspectives.