14: Conclusion: Towards a Southern Sociology

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The conclusion discusses each of the chapters in this volume in order to address the three big questions that animate this book: Does critical engagement represent a Southern sociology? Does critical engagement constitute a whole sociology, engaging in knowledge and theory production as well as questions of political mobilization and change? Does it constitute a counter-hegemonic sociology? It argues that Southern sociology is constituted in the context of permanent instability and movements for radical social change – accounting for critical engagement’s radical orientation, its alliance with forces for social change and its critique of official sociology. This chapter explores the different combinations of scholarly autonomy and political engagement adopted by each of the researchers as they navigate power-laden research sites, and it argues for the importance of reflecting on the subtleties of these diverse experiences. Ultimately, it argues for a conception of critical engagement as incipiently counter-hegemonic, both in its South–South encounters and in North–South solidarity and contestation.

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