Sociology and human rights: confrontations, evasions and new engagements
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AbstractSociologists have struggled to negotiate their relationship to human rights, yet human rights are now increasingly the focus of innovative sociological analysis. This opening contribution to ‘Sociology and Human Rights: New Engagements’ analyses how the relationship between sociology and human rights could be better conceptualised and taken forward in the future. The historical development of the sociology of human rights is first examined, with emphasis on the uneasy distancing of sociology from universal rights claims from its inception, and on radical repudiations influenced by Marx. We discuss how in the post-war period T.H. Marshall's work generated analysis of citizenship rights, but only in the past two decades has the sociology of human rights been developed by figures such as Bryan Turner, Lydia Morris and Anthony Woodiwiss. We then introduce the individual contributions to the volume, and explain how they are grouped. We suggest the need to deepen existing analyses of what sociology can offer to the broad field of human rights scholarship, but also, more unusually, that sociologists need to focus more on what human rights related research can bring to sociology, to renew it as a discipline. Subsequent sections take this forward by examining a series of themes including: the relationship between the individual and the social; the need to address inequality; the challenge of social engagement and activism; and the development of interdisciplinarity. We note how authors in the volume contribute to each of these. Finally we conclude by summarising our proposals for future directions in research.
CitationHynes, P. et al (2010) 'Sociology and human rights: confrontations, evasions and new engagements' The International Journal of Human Rights 14 (6):811