An-Najah National University


Blog about my academic and non-academic experiences at “An-Najah U.”, at the “Consortium des ‎Universités Euro Méditerranéennes”, , and at “Medfil Humanities Institute”, ‎ ,

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  • Thursday, December 29, 2011
  • Applied Sociology or Clinical Sociology:where is the point?
  • DR. Naji El Khatib

    Some notes about my personal experience as a Sociologist

    1) Applied Sociology or Clinical Sociology, where is the point?


    As a scholar who received his sociological culture essentially in France, my system of representations which allows me to define the significations, to understand or predict the contents of a particular discipline, is relatively influenced by this culture.

    Thus, the Applied Sociology in my primary perception has a negative connotation because it is assimilated to the quantitative, instrumentalist sociology in service of some powerful socio-political forces.

    Besides this culture, fortunately, I have my  Anglo-Saxon sociological culture which help me to overcome these misunderstandings. As an example, after thinking about this subject critically, I can surmount this unconstructive perception about the Applied Sociology and its paradigms. I can admit that it’s richer than this restricted, elementary perception.

    I would like to clarify what I understand now by this discipline called Applied Sociology. It is actually the connection that I establish between “Applied Sociology” and “Clinical Sociology”, which I learned and will teach later.


    I have to say that I was sensitized to this discipline through the “Socio-analyze” theory of Georges Lapassade, a French sociologist whom I met after his retirement. Later, I attended the seminars of Rémi Hess, disciple of G. Lapassade who modified the Socio-analyze to the “Institutional Analysis”. (Beside Rémi Hess there has been also René Lourau). And recently, I worked with Marie-Louise Pellegrin within the “Consortium of Euro-Mediterranean Universities” (CUEM) whom elaborated the theory of the “enunciative categories” as the language categories which are not simply instruments of communication but mainly “acts to perform the world” and for that reason, there is no intervention in the social field out of (or apart from) these categories.*


    In fact, the “Socio-analysis” and the “Institutional Analysis” are both two sides of same coin: The Sociology of Intervention in the social fields.


    This French sociology of intervention began with the Organizational Approach (Michel Crozier); The Sociological Intervention (Alain Touraine, François Dubet) ; The Socio-psychanalyse (Gérard Mendel) ; The Psycho-social-intervention (Jean Dubost, Eugène Enriquez) ; The Psycho-analysis of groups (Groupal Psycho-dynamic), (Didier Anzieu, René Kaes).


    All these French schools, participate in the creation of this Sociology of Intervention, sociology of practice, and maybe it is Eugène Enriquez who make more of connection between these tendencies of the French psycho-sociology with what we can qualify by a French clinical sociology.


    His work about the “clinic of the power” articulated the unconscious dimension with life inside the institutions, organizations and groups. He analyzed the stakes of power, ethics, changes and sexuality in the intervention practices. Now, it’s a matter of fact that Applied and clinical sociologies are complementary approaches. The employment of sociological perspectives and its tools in the understanding of the social life or the utilization of these perspectives to intervene, to enhance, to change some aspects of the Social, are considered as what define the sociological practice as whole (see the American definition for the Clinical and Applied sociologies below ).**


    Otherwise, to enlarge the horizons of sociological knowledge in the Palestinian university, I work to introduce and disseminate the French sociology which is not well spread out because of the domination of Anglo-Saxon models and schools. The « Applied Sociology » for me means a « Clinical Sociology » in the service of « social intervention » which is different from the « social work ».


    According to my sociological French culture, this branch of sociology treats the question from a utilitarian point of view:

    the sociological knowledge, theories and methods of investigation help to shape the practical interventions on the field of action.

    I myself practiced for more than 10 years this action of “teaching-instructing” teams of “Intervenients” (intervening persons), practitioners from social, judicial and health sectors.


    I worked with specialized educators, judges of family affairs, judges of teenagers delinquency problems, school teachers, policemen.

    I treated with them, from a sociological perspective, the themes of their daily professional practices: family conflicts, generation conflicts, school failure, violence against women, youth violence, drugs, addictions, associability, etc. In this context, I used my sociological knowledge in the fields of “sociology of family”, “sociology of education”, “legal-juridical sociology” to teach-instruct these professional categories to perform their professional practices. It’s a sort of “counseling”, “critical reflection” than a classical teaching.


    This is a work of exchange around knowledge and experience, theory and practice, university and social life.

    This exchange examines the viability of theories; re-write these theories according to social realities of daily life.


    It could also be used to orient and reorient social policies, expands the knowledge of decision-makers, perform skills of practitioners with their “clients”, etc. In addition to the Anglo-Saxon sociologists (Jane Addams, Elizabeth J. Clark, John G. Bruhn, Lester F. Ward, Jan M. Fritz, Jonathan A. Friedman & others), I used to exploit the work of the French sociologists as Georges Lapassade , Alain Joxe (my thesis director),Marie-Louise Pellegrin, Jacqueline Barus-Michel and Ana-Maria Araujo (my fellows in the “Euro-Mediterranean University Consortium”), Eugène Enriquez, Christoph Niewiadomski, & others.



    * An interesting critical contribution to the sociological analysis was performed by Professor Marie-Louise Pellegrin and by her colleagues of the “Consortium of Euro-Mediterranean Universities” (CUEM), conducted since 2002 in Italy (Sicily). The CUEM was initiated by Prof. Pellegrin as an international and interdisciplinary think tank referring to linguistics, anthropology and psychoanalysis. Marie-Louise Pellegrin, employ the concept of the \\\\\\\"Analyzer\\\\\\\" by presenting the \\\\\\\"minorities\\\\\\\" and the so-called \\\\\\\"marginal\\\\\\\" as an analyzer of the whole Occidental societies. This Analyzer is consider by her as a conceptual reference which reveal ,question, analyze the \\\\\\\"majority\\\\\\\" , its certitudes and its untouchable criteria belonging to its extreme positivist visions . To complete her critical approach of the Occidental thinking, Professor Pellegrin pays more attention to the non-occidental thinking and especially to the Mediterranean philosophies and cultures to take her distance from the occidental categories of thoughts, considered as universal once and for all. Her rejection of the confinement in the only occidental culture seen as certain, obvious, superior, advanced and complete concern also an ethical consideration which is necessary to appreciate the “Other”, to understand him and to cohabite together in the mutual respect. The other is conceived as the alter ego of the “self”, that is to say the “other-me”. Other is both my neighbor and a different topic from me. It’s the cohabitation between the proximity and the distance, the familiarity and the strangeness. This critical and ethical thinking take position concerning the questions related to the post-colonialism, to the women issues and to gender theory.

    ( )



    ** Clinical Sociology and Sociological Practice: “The …… term sociological practice involves two areas, clinical sociology and applied sociology. Clinical sociology emphasizes hands-on intervention while applied sociology emphasizes research for practical purposes. Both specialties require different kinds of specialized training. Some sociological practitioners are ‘‘clinical’’ in that they only or primarily do intervention work; others are ‘‘applied’’ in that they only or primarily conduct research that is of practical interest. Some practitioners do both. Clinical sociologists, for instance, may conduct research before beginning an intervention project to assess the existing state of affairs, during an intervention (e.g., to study the process of adaptation), and/or after the completion of the intervention to evaluate the outcome of that intervention. For some clinical sociologists, the research activity is an important part of their own clinical work. These sociologists have appropriate research training and look for opportunities to conduct research. Other clinical sociologists prefer to concentrate on the interventions and leave any research to other team members. Those clinical sociologists who decide not to engage in research may have research skills but prefer to conduct interventions, may not have enough expertise in the conduct of research, or may know that other team members have more expertise in research.”


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Naji (M.) El Khatib, Ph.D.
Sociology & Psycho-Sociology ‎
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