This is for the first time when it is for the second time: Reflections on uniqueness in sociological descriptions and explanations (přednáška v rámci workshopu The Challenge of Uniqueness)
Venue: CTS, Husova 4, Praha 1, 3. patro
Lecturers: Zdeněk Konopásek
The problem of uniqueness in sociology is often seen as a problem of methodology. It refers to research configurations in which we deal only with a few cases or even with a single case so that it becomes impossible using standardized statistical tools and generalizing our findings to cover some wider population. In such situations, we mobilize “qualitative methods”. I will briefly comment on their practical relevance and on the nature of knowledge they bring about. Uniqueness, however, can also be taken as a substantive sociological issue. There are sociologists (including myself) who consider uniqueness as an omnipresent and irreducible feature of social reality – a feature that should be taken seriously. This implies a radical redefinition of the sociological perspective and of basic sociological questions. The redefinition is often misunderstood though. While we must understand and deeply respect that everything happens only once, and at one place, it is equally serious that we take account of things made durable, repeatable, and standardized or generalized on a mass scale and daily basis. It is not a paradox: the former should be taken as a theoretical-methodological precondition of the latter.