ZKF-Arbeitsgespräche im Sommersemester 24

From Societas to World Society. Genealogy of a Concept


Vortragende Personen:

Prof. Dr. Volker H. Schmidt (National University of Singapore)


Prof. Dr. Boris Holzer


The lecture draws on a recently completed book manuscript of the same title. This book seeks to reconstruct the evolution of the semantics of the word society from its first recorded manifestations in Roman law to our own time. It shows that several, very different types of societies co-existed during most of this history until Talcott Parsons reserved the term for a single type. This single type is the national society which in the second half of the 20th century became the social sciences’ and humanities’ default concept of society. The lecture concludes, following Luhmann, that this concept has always been problematic and must now be viewed as scientifically untenable, even misleading. Its theoretical obsolescence notwithstanding, it is alive and well in Anglophone academia which leads the social sciences globally and virtually “controls” the idiom in which the world describes itself.

Datum: 2024-06-05