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Touraine and Historicity

Buechler makes reference to French sociologist Alain Touraine's theory of historicity: "the symbolic capacity of social actors to construct a system of knowledge and the technical tools that allow them to intervene in their own functioning, act upon themselves, and thereby produce society" (6). In Social Movements, Old and New: A Post-modernist Critique, Rajendra Singh deals extensively with Touraine's work on social movements. At this point, my sense is that Touraine's conceptual framework may prove productive as we struggle to answer the questions guiding our examination of social movements: most notably, how to theorize social movements and the conditions of possibility for social change given the ascendancy of diffusion? (Sorry, Kirt, if I butchered this).

I am planning to read some of Touraine's work in the upcoming weeks, focusing my attention on The Self-Production of Society where he theorizes the concept of historicity. If anyone else is interested in working through this material, I could make copies of particular selections; we could discuss the readings via the blog. Also, if anyone would like to take a look at Singh's work, let me know, and I will lend you my copy (it's very expensive). The book offers a slightly different narrative of social movement theory that the ones we've encountered thus far.