The Chicago School and the study of conflicts in contemporary societies

Convenors: Marco Pitzalis (University of Cagliari) & Izabela Wagner (Uniwersytet Warszawski)

the nortons

Conflict is a social phenomenon that has been present in theoretical reflections and empirical studies since the beginnings of sociology as a discipline. However, in the numerous manuals of sociology, it seems that some theories remain prominent while others are forgotten. Our aim here is to draw the attention of the sociological community to the particular relevance of the Sociological Tradition of Chicago (Chapoulie, 2001) in the study and general understanding of conflicts.

We are looking for theoretical studies concerning the Chicago School of Sociology and the sociological analyses of conflicts as well as for empirical studies dealing with conflicts present in different areas of human activity (professional, educational and societal). Our aim is to focus on the Chicago School’s intellectual legacy in order to awaken sociological imagination and revive some of the ideas and scientific approaches for gaining a better understanding of our contemporary societies.

The contribution that the Chicago School made to the study of conflicts seems to have been somewhat overlooked by contemporary sociological “accounts” of the history of our discipline. Nonetheless, this Tradition made successful use of the concept of “conflict” and produced different variants of the definition of conflict. Various types of conflicts were studied at different levels and in various environments (society, institutions, organizations, groups and face to face interactions). Their inquiries enhanced understanding of macro, meso and micro levels of conflict phenomena.

Two of the most recurrent elements present in studies of conflict in the Chicago School tradition are the focus on interactions, which emphasizes the dynamics of social relationship, and the use of qualitative methods. In particular, observation seems particularly suited to the investigation of conflicts within daily life in different areas of human activity.  Numerous levels of analysis emerge: from the negotiation of identities through the political/institutional level to the interracial relationships in urban space.

We are looking for fresh and innovative papers in order to foster an original debate on the Chicago School’s intellectual legacy on the theme of conflict. In particular, we would like to encourage submissions dealing with the study of current migration processes, organizational life, group relations and processes, focusing on identity negotiations, conflicts and/or stigmatization processes. The aim is to explore the legacy and establish dialogue between the sociological theory of the traditional and contemporary Chicago Schools of Sociology.

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