Crisis Tropes: What Cultural Apprehensions of the Post-1989 Period in Central Eastern Europe Can Reveal about the Global Rupture of 2020

Till Hilmar, Bremen University, SOCIUM

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought the stark health and economic inequalities of our time into full relief. As the crisis continues to unfold, sociologists are beginning to explore the patterns of meaning that crystallize in the process. In this paper, I discuss five salient tropes of crisis apprehension: 1- Eventful thinking as delineating temporal orders; 2- The problem of excess of meaning; 3-Shifting meanings in the relation of the realm of work and the state; 4- A sense of contingency and renewed agency; 5-Delineating loss and victimhood. These five tropes contain popular, evocative ideas about the nature of a macro-historical crisis, rooted in a specific quality of everyday experience. It is via the level of everyday apprehensions of rupture, I suggest, that they enter the sociological imagination and may become the stuff of sociological theorizing. I arrive at this typology trough a comparative angle. I develop the argument against the foil of recent historical transformation, the post-1989 period in Central Eastern Europe.

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 Presented in Session 131. Events and Crisis in Concept and Practice I