Opening address to the annual conference of the Hungarian Sociological Association held in Cluj-Napoca between November 26-29, 2014
It is an exceptional opportunity to greet you here at the University of Babes-Bolyai where we the Hungarian Sociological Association has first time in its history it annual meeting. On behalf of the members of the organisation and the members of the presidium I have express our deepest gratitude for being hosted by our colleagues working here at this University. Thank you for the wonderful reception and perfect arrangement.
In a few words let me outline how do I feel now about the fate of sociology in Hungary particularly and in Europe generally. I am convinced that sociology has the important task to help people living in our countries to explain and understand what is happening around and within us. The time has passed when it was enough to produce papers, books, and conference proceedings about social facts and processes which were interesting only for those who were involved in doing research and speaking about the results in the closed community of specialists.
We are all living in a world that has become more uncertain, more complex than it had ever been. This world is in constant change. I see no other way to cope with this situation than to look for allies who can help and support our effort of explaining and understanding. Consequently, the first novelty in sociology must be the interdisciplinary approach to the facts and processes of the socially constructed reality. Psychology, social psychology, cultural anthropology, economics, history and political science come first in my mind as possible associates. Moreover, we cannot neglect anymore the insights provided by sciences coming from physics and biology. The beginning of the Western science seems to return when great thinkers such as Anaximander, Empedocles, Heracleitus and others had made no differences being faced and challenged with the question of “What is”. This question is still waiting for answer and it is our duty not to avoid the task of responding.
The annual meeting has been organised around one of the most compelling questions of today which is however closely related to the question of “’what is”. Simultaneously we are tormented by the question “who are we?” This question also has come from the antiquity and it has been formulated in each age again and again.
We are living in a new Europe. Despite the many criticisms that have been phrased since the concept of the unity of European nations has been born I am absolutely convinced that the European Union is a success. The living proof of this success is this conference in this town that has many names but only on single meaning stemming from the ancient times. There are no people in Europe than those who live in this town and live in this historical region of Europe who know it better what does it mean hatred, destruction, deterioration of conflict between groups defined by various categories such as national, religious and ethnic ones.
We have to recognize that since the realization of the concept of European unity the nations being members of the European community live in harmony and peace.
It is not by chance that the major aspect of our annual meeting in 2014 at Cluj-Napoca is the national identity. This choice of study expresses our commitment to the concept of Europe that is governed with the people, for the people and by the people who have not given up their right to answer to the question “Who are you” in terms of their national identity. In the same time, however, we have clearly to see that this answer sounds in a discursive space where many other answers compete with each other and there is no supreme authority to decide which answer is true and which one is false.
We are heading toward a more democratic, more competitive and more cohesive Europe of the nations. This is going to be a very long road since the goals do seem not always being in correspondence. But the clash of the goals is different than the earlier clashes when the confrontation was total and devastating. The conflict we have no are constructive ones.
Let me finish this speech expressing my hope that we, social scientists, in collaboration with professionals of other disciplines in concerted effort with the whole class of intellectuals shall have a voice in solving the constructive conflicts in our single European social reality.
Let me wish you a successful conference, that using the words of my favourite poet, Mihály Vörösmary is simultaneously good work and good entertainment. Jó mulatság és férfi munka.
Thank you very much for your attention!