Inaugural Lecture of Professor Karl Von Holdt: The making and unmaking of social order

We are living in a society which is continuously being made and unmade, made and remade, in a dynamic, contested set of processes that generate confusions, disorder and confrontations – frequently violent. Thinking about this poses problems for sociology (and the social sciences more generally). We are trained to see the pattern in things, to try and discern their underlying structures and forces. We tend to be more comfortable with thinking through a frame of social structure and social order rather than rupture, confrontation, breakdown. Perhaps we need to rethink our categories and concepts, to destabilise them and remake them as well so that they are adequate to the task of understanding the world.