We are unable to combine cultural diversity with the fact of belonging to the same nation and defending universalist values
Alain Touraine is considered one of the most important contemporary sociologists. His intellectual trajectory and scientific production have had a remarkable impact on the social sciences, especially in Europe, the United States and Latin America. His books have been translated into several languages, including Oriental ones. Touraine's work has focused on the central problem of social reflection: the individual-society relationship.
He has received several decorations in Europe and Latin America, including the Order of the Legion of Honor and numerous Doctorates Honoris Causa. The work of Alain Touraine has meant a decisive influence in the Latin American social sciences.
Born in 1925 in Hermanville-sur-Mer, France, Alain Touraine studied at the universities of Columbia, Chicago and Harvard and was a researcher at the French National Council until 1958. In 1960 he became a senior researcher at École Pratique des Hautes Études, currently the prestigious School of High Studies of Social Sciences of Paris, where he founded the Center for Analysis and Sociological Intervention, CADIS.
Touraine is a fierce opponent of neoliberal policies that were implemented during the 1990s. In the last years of the s. XX, the author, in the books Critique of modernity and What is democracy, put at the center of the debate the question of the subject and democracy. And it elaborates the idea of democracy as "not only a set of institutional guarantees, a negative freedom. It is the struggle of the subjects, in their culture and in their freedom, against the logic that dominates the systems ".
This French sociologist has published more than twenty books, among which stand out Social actors and political systems in Latin America, Sociology of action, The return of the actor or today's social movements: actors and analysts. In January 2005 he published A New Paradigm to Understand the World Today.
All his work constitutes a sociology of action, studied at the practical level during the first period, at the most historical level during the second period and in a more philosophical way during the third.
He has tried throughout his life to link together different types of studies: theoretical-analytical, empirical research of a purely sociological type, analysis of real historical events and, finally, books of a more controversial or intimate type. He has always considered it essential to be informed as much as possible about the different types of societies, which led him to write a book about the universities and the American student movement, to follow with great interest the evolution of French-speaking Canada, to make a Great study on the post-communist countries of Eastern Europe and to dedicate a large part of their time to the study of the countries of the Latin American continent.
The work of Touraine can be divided into three stages: the first, dedicated to the sociology of work and more precisely to the sociology of worker consciousness. It is during this period that he wrote his first works in Latin America about the Chilean workers of the coal mines and metallurgy; also it is necessary to emphasize his book the postindustrial society.
In the second stage, Touraine focuses on the events of May 68 and military coups in Latin America, which led him to concentrate his interest in the study of social movements. With a group of friends, he developed a method of sociological intervention and conducted a series of studies. And in the third stage, his predominant idea is that of the subject, considered as the central principle of the action of social movements.
Dean of the IE School of Global and Public Affairs & Senior Associate of Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in Harvard.
Spanish diplomat. Spanish Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2008-2012)
Director of the MIT Media Lab, Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist