Sophia’s cultural Thursdays. Dialogue on an indispensable concept


The soiree was spent in trying to understand and explain that love has a public and not only an intimate dimension in globabalised society. The effort to seek and give a name to what already exists in society, identifying “love-agape” a term of Greek origin, as that which seems to best express that weft of actions and reactions of our daily routine, and has the basic characteristics of being bountiful and unconditional, and having no accountability.

Though difficult for those who set the objective of deciphering social action and its intentionality in depth, this theme is a “must,” as is obvious in the title of the soiree that took place last 19 May in Sophia, on the occasion of the usual “Cultural Thursday.” And it started off from the awareness of this “indispensable” theme, giving room to dialogue with the public that interacted, and to whom the guests offered a fascinating interpretation of an existing social phenomenon which is often “invisible.”


There are three reasons for such an invisibility, the last of which is also the scarce theoretical definition to this regard: the challenge to try to fill this theoretic deficit had been undertaken by a group of scholars of the Social-One/Social Sciences . It was made the object of a vast research programme that started a few years ago, and which has now produced an important publication: Love in the time of globalisation, edited by New City. The authors of the volume interviewed some of the most influential scholars of the contemporary panorama of sociology and social services:
– Luc Boltanski, Research Director of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris;
– Michael Burawoy, former President of the International Sociological Association;
– Axel Honneth, third-generation advocate of the Frankfurt School;
– Paulo Henrique Martins, President of the South American Sociological Association;
– Annamaria Campanini, former President of the European Association of Schools of Social Work.

Emceed with great competence by Bernhard Callebaut and Licia Paglione, IUS Professors in Fundaments of Sociology and Social Research Methodology, respectively, Gennaro Lorio of the Salerno University, and Silvia Cataldi of the Sapienza University in Rome, the soiree did not conceal the difficulties of an operation that tries to define a new sociological concept. But as they said – it is social analysis itself that evidences the existence of “love-agape,” firstly as a phenomenical possibility and then as a new interpretative category, that overturn the stereotype of a society perceived and described exclusively as a place of consumerism?? and uncertainty. It reaches up to the representation of an instrument that could become a project and stimulus also for institutional renewal.


On the other hand, in sociology the hidden concepts arise essentially from observation and serve to explain and comprehend real phenomena in a circularity between theory and facts. Therefore, if “the globalisation process under way worldwide reveals a radical change that is a challenge for modernity” – according to Vera Araújo in the Preface to the book – it is evermore actual to question ourselves over a long period of study, on a concept that may be useful and perhaps necessary to interpret meanings and behaviours of individuals, those in interindividual interactions and those in intergroups interactions. The work of Sophia in the sociological field is also embedded in this framework, to collaborate and offer a new site for public debate.

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