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A growing interdisciplinary literature explores how people can simultaneously hold strong convictions and remain open to the possibility of learning from others with whom…
A growing interdisciplinary literature explores how people can simultaneously hold strong convictions and remain open to the possibility of learning from others with whom they disagree. This tension impacts not only knowledge development but also public discourse within a diverse and disagreeing democracy. This volume of Political Power and Social Theory considers the specific question of how religious convictions inform how people engage in democratic life, particularly across deep political divides. In this introduction, I begin by discussing how a narrow vision of religious citizens as dogmatic believers has led observers to frame religion as a concerning source of democratic distortion – encouraging too much arrogance and not enough humility. Yet this dogmatic believer narrative captures only one aspect of American religion. Juxtaposing a snapshot of dogmatic believers alongside two other snapshots of religious groups engaging in political life raises complex questions about the relationship between religious conviction, humility, and democracy in a time of deep political polarization. I argue that answering these questions requires a sociological approach that is attuned to power, context, culture, institutions, and history. At the same time, I show how attention to the tension between conviction and humility has the potential to enrich the sociological study of religion and democracy, and particularly ethnographic research across the moral/political divide.
This year's volume of Political Power and Social Theory marks the end of my tenure as editor of this esteemed journal, truly. Although I composed a very similar sentence a year ago, circumstances beyond my control delayed the transition. Thankfully, our new incoming editor, Professor Julian Go, from the Department of Sociology at Boston University, has already started his tenure as this volume goes to press. In addition to undertaking the review of pending and current incoming manuscripts, he also has contributed to this year's volume by agreeing to guest-edit a special section on empire and colonialism. On behalf of the entire editorial board and our readership, I thank Julian for his work on this volume, welcome him to the helm, and wish him well in future volumes. I look forward to continuing my own commitment to PPST as just another member of the editorial board. In the meantime, we can expect some new ideas and new blood in the editorial board as Julian takes over the journal and moves it in new directions. It is an exciting time to consider changes in the field of comparative-historical sociology, as the discipline seeks to accommodate both old and new trends as well as the transforming spatial scales in which political power and social theory are increasingly embedded.
Postcolonial theory has been widely influential in the humanities. But its influence on social science and sociology in particular has been minimal. This special volume of PPST brings together leading scholars to ponder the possibility of a “postcolonial sociology.” Chapters consider whether or not postcolonial theory is compatible with sociology. They offer postcolonial readings of canonical sociological thinkers like Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Robert Park. They explore the relationship between knowledge and colonial power. They offer critical perspectives on the sociology of race; they ponder the implications of postcolonial theory for global sociology; put sociology, area studies, and postcolonial studies into dialogue; deploy and rework key postcolonial concepts such as hybridity; and excavate postcolonial sociologies in India and Mexico. In bringing these essays together, this volume of PPST is among the first attempts in North America to craft new sociologies informed by postcolonial criticism.