Editorial of Global Dialogue 9.2

Sociologists not only aim to foster discussions within the discipline but also are engaged in public debates and controversies. Over the last decade Nandini Sundar, a most renowned Indian sociologist and social activist challenged the boundary between academia and activism and confronted social injustice in India through political action. In the interview opening this issue of Global Dialogue, Sundar talks about the past and current situation of India’s “war in Bastar” and about the difficulty of being a good scholar and a good activist in these hastening times.

Our first symposium “Transformations and Alternatives” starts with two texts that trace sociological reflections on alternative societies and possible futures through the history of sociology and discuss why this kind of reflection is necessary to combine sociological critique with emancipatory ideas. A text from Latin America highlights political struggles for a solidary society and the role of concepts like Buen Vivir. A contribution from Qatar contrasts possible futures of the Arab world. Articles from South Africa and Zimbabwe introduce empirical research into how people deal with major changes in their lives (in this case brought about by climate change) and what obstacles desired policy changes may face.

Erik Olin Wright, a scholar whose life and work was dedicated to the ideas of equality, freedom, and community passed away in January 2019. With him we lose a sociologist whose work on class, Marx and “real utopias” did not only inspire colleagues across the globe but also activists fighting to build a more just and democratic society. Two close friends from different parts of the world pay tribute to his life and work.

In our second symposium Birgit Riegraf, Lina Abirafeh and Kadri Aavik invited scholars from around the world to present their research on the relation between “Gender and Social Inequality.” The articles highlight different aspects of this relation like gender inequality in research funding from a European and Nordic perspective, the status quo and the fate of Gender Studies in the Czech Republic, the route and obstacles of gender inequality in the Arab Region, and gendered labor in the Asian context. The articles give us an insight into the debates about social progress or the backlash in gender equality and spark the discussion on how sociology as a discipline can offer tangible solutions for equality and social justice. Contributions point to the need of social action and the necessity to keep the struggle for gender equality going to further pave the way towards an equal society.

As part of our regional focus on “Sociology from (South) Africa” the first article highlights the persistence of poverty and inequality in South Africa and puts this as a warning to Africa as a whole. The second text discusses the rising popularity of and controversies around charismatic churches in South Africa and addresses the silence of sociological voices on this matter. The following two articles debate the situation of mining workers in South Africa, one showing how the rhetoric of inclusion contradicts the exclusion of women from doing certain tasks while the second piece presents an ethnographic study of black unemployed ex-mine workers and shows the effects unemployment has on their confidence and self-worth. What we can learn from the working people of Tanzania is brought to us in an article that examines the food system in Dar es Salaam. Focusing on the history of Zimbabwe, the next piece examines the modes of accumulation and political reproduction that transformed and sustained Zimbabwe’s predatory state. With a wonderful photo-essay Alexia and Edward Webster round off this symposium by combining insights about Johannesburg’s history with remarkable photographs of that city built on gold.

The article included in the Open Section of this issue examines solidarity in times of right-wing populism in Europe by focusing on Austria and Hungary.

Brigitte Aulenbacher and Klaus Dörre, editors of Global Dialogue

, Austria, Germany, Volume 9, Issue 2

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