Sociology, emerging in the 19th century as the study of national societies, is the intellectual product of its time, power relations and social imaginaries. As a discursive practice that was enmeshed in the meta-narratives of modernity, the discipline of sociology bears the inherent capacity to shape socially shared concepts and construct collective identities. This book examines the relationships between sociology and projects of national identity construction, and presents a critique of Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, the prominent Israeli sociologist known as the "father of Israeli sociology".
The book focuses on Eisenstadt’s sociology of Israel as a case of knowledge construction within an ideological system and examines the relationships between his various sociological analyses of Israeli society and the Zionist imaginary, namely the deeply entrenched political myths and historiographical narratives that constitute Israel’s hegemonic national identity. By emphasizing the interrelation between textuality, identity, and loaded language, the volume seeks to demythologize Eisenstadt’s sociology of Israel. Three major concepts in Eisenstadt’s scholarship are specifically thematized: integration, civilization, and modernities. In each of these foci, the author shows how Eisenstadt’s sociological conjectures reproduce dominant Zionist historiographical representations of the past, rationalize prevalent social hierarchies, reify the boundaries of a national collective "Self", and render legitimacy to Israel’s governing ethnocratic tendencies, underlying the premises of the Zionist settler-colonial project.
Sociological Knowledge and Collective Identity will appeal to those interested in the interconnectedness of sociology and political memory, as well as in a radical postcolonial reconstruction of sociology.
"Stavit Sinai’s powerful book addresses the postcolonial context of the emergence of the state of Israel and its influence on Shmuel Eisenstadt’s sociology. Widely regarded as the foremost theorist of ‘multiple modernities’, Eisenstadt is also the ‘father of Israeli sociology’. This is a compelling and urgent inquiry into the ways in which national social imaginaries have been central for the development of universal concepts."
- Gurminder K. Bhambra, Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at the University of Sussex, UK
1. Eisenstadt, Modern Imaginaries, and the Political Mythology of Zionism
Part I: The ‘Problem’ of Social Integration
2. Mediated Identity: Early Eisenstadt, the Zionist Utopia, and the Orientalist Gaze
Part II: Civilization
3. The Short Road from Antiquity to Modernity: The Jewish Past and Eisenstadt’s Civilizational Analysis
Part III: Modernities
4. The Jewish Democracy and Multiple Modernities
5. From Zionist to Radical Sociology
The International Library of Sociology (ILS) is the most important series of books on sociology ever published. Founded in the 1940s by Karl Mannheim, the series became the forum for pioneering research and theory, marked by comparative approaches and the identification of new directions in sociology, publishing major figures in Anglo-American and European sociology, from Durkheim and Weber to Parsons and Gouldner, and from Ossowski and Klein to Jasanoff and Walby.
Its new editors, John Holmwood (University of Nottingham, UK) and Vineeta Sinha (National University of Singapore), plan to develop the series as a truly global project, reflecting new directions and contributions outside its traditional centres, and connecting with the original aim of the series to produce sociological knowledge that addresses pressing global social problems and supports democratic debate.