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Head of the Academic Center for Social Studies. He holds a doctorate in sociology from Mohammed V University in Rabat. He is interested in social theory, sociology of organizations, ethnography of the environment, and philosophy of the social sciences.

Hassan Ahjeej
Morad Diani Chairing the Seminar

The ACRPS seminar welcomed Hassan Ahjeej this week to present his research on Wednesday 3 March 2021. The Researcher and Translator in sociology and critical theories and President of the Academic Center for Social Studies in Kenitra, Morocco gave a lecture titled “Environmental Challenges of Orthodox Social Theory: For a New Sociological Imagination”.

The researcher highlighted the nature/nurture dichotomy that has influenced the bulk of sociological thinking since the end of the nineteenth century, often leaving strong, unrecognized repercussions on research methods and sociological epistemological foundations. These include the separation of the natural from the social sciences both intellectually and institutionally. The researcher thus argues that developing a social theory that integrates natural and cultural dimensions into a single broad framework has become more urgent than ever, and that it is not enough just to develop new approaches that include nature as the neglected dimension of human existence in their theoretical construction, nor is it sufficient to apply social theories to the existing natural approaches.

For this, the researcher believes that merely applying current theories and approaches to the study of phenomena related to nature is not enough to build knowledge of the natural as a causal factor in social life. Instead, he argues that we must develop forms of understanding that capture the unique place that nature occupies within the determinants of social behaviour. Nature must be acknowledged for its ability to transform the social environment with which it interacts, and incorporated into theories as deeply as possible.

The researcher proposed an ambitious approach that discards the conceptual matrix inherited from enlightenment philosophy, which establishes a strict separation between the natural and the social, with no priority given to one at the expense of the other. This is because the physical characteristics and social life of a situation are, according to the researcher, a product of what is called "co-formation," according to which, one characteristic builds the other. Consequently, realizing these ideas, we risk distorting our view with intuitive, socially agreed definitions based on a nature/nurture dichotomy, becoming prisoners of presumptive knowledge.

The researcher consequently advocates for a new sociological imagination, moving from a demand to link biography with history, as is the case for Wright Mills' sociological fiction, to a demand for an epistemological and systematic relationship between biography and history on the one hand (the social), and the physical world on the other. He argues that building an appropriate analytical strategy for social life in light of environmental threats is conditional on merging natural element epistemologically in sociological approaches, while avoiding the reductionist tendency of social entities, natural entities, and hybrid entities (which Bruno Latour calls “quasi-objects”).

The researcher highlighted that his approach to the relationship between society/culture and the environment/nature is based on two principles: First, the call to reconsider the way in which scientific knowledge appropriate to social life is acquired in light of the major environmental transformations and the widespread interest in it (i.e. the conditions for the possibility of honest scientific social knowledge). Second, the avoidance of the ontological analogy between social and natural phenomena.