Introduction: Postcolonialism, Sociology, and the Politics of Knowledge Production



‘Modernity’ is the dominant frame for social and political thought, not just in the West, but across the world. The repercussions of the French Revolution and the processes of industrialization stimulated debates about the emergence of a modern world and this world was held to require a distinctively modern form of explanation. I shall argue that this rests on two fundamental assumptions: rupture and difference — a temporal rupture that distinguishes a traditional, agrarian past from the modern, industrial present; and a fundamental difference that distinguishes Europe from the rest of the world. These paradigmatic assumptions frame both the standard methodological problems posed by social inquiry and the explanations posited in resolving them. In this book, I call into question the socio-historic evidence for ideas of rupture and difference, and examine how the construction of this evidence itself has led to the development of particular forms of theoretical understandings. Most importantly, the equating of modernity with Europe reinforces a fundamental assumption of much intellectual thought today: that particular structures, emerging first in the West, would become universal.


French Revolution Dominant Conception Postcolonial Theory Western Experience Colonial Encounter 
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© Gurminder K. Bhambra 2007

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