Historical Social Research

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Reiner Keller & Angelika Poferl: Soziologische Wissenskulturen zwischen individualisierter Inspiration und prozeduraler Legitimation. Zur Entwicklung qualitativer und interpretativer Sozialforschung in der deutschen und französischen Soziologie seit den 1960er Jahren. [Abstract]

How do sociologists know what they know? Although sociology around the world is deeply shaped by processes of internationalization, strong regional, linguistic, and cultural differences persist. This concerns general production of knowledge, applied theories, methods as well as questions posed. In the present contribution, we discuss the development of and differences inherent to epistemic cultures in qualitative and interpretive research in French and German Sociology since the 1960s. In doing so, we refer to a document and interview based research project we directed in 2012-2014. Epistemic cultures are conceived of as the forms, ways, and practices of producing and legitimizing scientific (sociological) "output" involved in sociological knowledge-making. The production of knowledge is the core "action problem" that sociological inquiry is confronted with. This problem is addressed in rather different ways. French qualitative sociology trusts in researchers' skills, competencies, and inspirations in order to establish new knowledge. German qualitative and interpretive sociology prefers establishing "legitimacy through procedure" (procedural legitimation). We illustrate the unfolding of this difference between French and German based qualitative sociology in the early 1960s and discuss how it shapes their further development. In doing so, we intend to contribute to a current reflexive movement in sociology.

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