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Using the face-to-face confrontation of new tendencies in French sociology and Chinese sociology[1] and the symmetries and dissymmetries between different sociological fields, we will investigate the ways in which dialogues, exchanges, connections and disjunctions are formed between seats of sociological knowledge located in France and in China. Consequently, we will draw conjunctive and disjunctive theoretical spaces where the Post-Western Sociology can emerge and be developed. During 2017-2020 we will examine how research practices and sociological knowledge are constructed by analyzing the different forms of fieldwork experience in sociology to analyze the process of elaboration of sociological knowledge.

Western sociology gravitates according to its own modalities around central devices of knowledge in which "issues", in the sense of Popper, and "enigmas", in the sense of Kuhn, occur. They refer to the cognitive situation that triggers a research: a “dissonance” between a phenomena and its explicative frame. Post-Western Sociology means working towards displacement and the construction of planes of epistemic equivalence between the conjunctive and disjunctive boundaries of knowledge to struggle against any form of “epistemic injustice” (Barghava, 1013)[2]

Post-Western Sociology is born out of: 1) the refusal to imitate Western epistemic frameworks; 2) a concern to control hybridisations of Western and non-Western knowledge based on the dynamics of the de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation of non indigenous knowledge; 3) the recognition and validation of places of conjunction and disjunction between Western and non-Western knowledge; and 4) the existence of “epistemic white zones”, that is, zones in which the epistemic frameworks constructed in different societal contexts cannot come into contact (Roulleau-Berger, 2013)[3].

 Li Peilin (2016)[4] considers so-called “Post-Western Sociology” can be defined from three aspects: firstly it is not raised as an antithesis of “Western sociology”, but is intended to develop beyond Western sociology ; secondly, it considers the mainstream of international sociology established on the basis of experiences of Western countries, and is seen by most sociologists to be universal and generalizable. But in recent decades, the rise of new, large economic powers is challenging this generalization. It is necessary to incorporate new international development experiences and to reconstruct the theoretical framework to be more inclusive of diversity; thirdly, it is not based on established principles of a rigid system, but on the practice of open and dynamic developments.

In the same way Laurence Roulleau-Berger (2016)[5] defined Post-Western Sociology constructed from similarities and differences which cannot be conceived according to a binary mode. It relies on different knowledge processes:

  • “Knowledge niches” which appear to be specifically Western or Chinese and do not signify a transferability of knowledge
  • Intermediary epistemological processes which encourage the partial transfer of sociological knowledge from Western to Chinese and from Chinese to Western countries
  • Transnational epistemological spaces in which Western knowledge and Chinese knowledge are placed in equivalence


To improve the definition of Post-Western Sociology, Chinese and French colleagues will discuss around three thematics :

1.1. Dominations, Resistances and Moral Economies

1.2. Institutions, Norms and Justice

1.3. Uncertainty, Autonomy and Individuation




A cross-cultural perspective approach to the ways in which paradigms and theoretical methodologies are put into practice in France and China taking as a starting point clearly defined research situations, would lead to the production of new transnational sociological knowledge. We will examine how research practices and sociological knowledge are constructed by analyzing the different forms of field experience in sociology. Drawing on French and Chinese experiences, we will analyze how a post-Western space has come into being in which sociological knowledge is emerging that is both specific and shared and in which theoretical methodologies are gathered together on the basis of very different histories and traditions. In China, even quantitative research has a major status in sociological methodology, today a change concerns the recent return of qualitative, particularly ethnographic methodologies. Due to the socio-anthropological tradition in Chinese sociology, and the rise in power of the ethnographic approach or indeed ethnographic engagement in French sociology, it can be understood that ways of observing and observation mechanisms put in place by Chinese and French sociologists take the shared idea that nowadays sociology should mobilise the ethnographic eye to grasp the complexity and the dynamics of social processes. Liu Neng (2008) suggested revisiting the Fei Xiaotong heritage and returning to space-based qualitative sociology by mobilising theories from the Chicago School. Here the question of the sociologist in field surveys and more widely of the relationship between sociologists and the State comes to the fore. In French and Chinese cases these issues are constructed and posed differently. So it means doing fieldwork together and we will produce Post-Western methodological theory through five research axes :

2.1. Axe 1 : Metropolis, New Economy and Inequalities

2.2. Axe 2 :  Urban Governance, public action and citizenship

2.3. Axe 3  Collective action and new mobilisations

2.4. Axe 4 : Gender, education and culture

2.5. Axe 5 : Tensions in Global Health and Environement


[1] Roulleau-Berger, L., Li Peilin, L. (eds), 2012, French  and Chinese Sociologies. A New Dialogue, Leiden&Boston, Brill Publishers.

[2] Bhargava, R., 2013, Pour en finir avec l’injustice épistémique du colonialisme, Socio, n°1, mars 2013, pp 41-77.

[3] Roulleau-Berger, L., 2013, Post-Western Sociology and Scientific Revolution : From Asia To Europe, Journal of Institute for Sociology, Tokyo, n°30, sept-oct.2013

[4] LI Peilin, 2016, Preface in LI peilin and L.Roulleau-Berger, Ecological Risks and Disasters-New Experiences in China and Europe, London and New York, Routledge.

[5] Roulleau-Berger, L., 2016, Post-Western Revolution in Sociology. From China to Europe, Brill Publishers, Leiden&Boston.