In the age of globalization, our analysis should focus on Networks/Linkages and Boundaries. There are several important issues:
Mathematical Analysis of social and economic networks currently popular in economics ignore many of the above issues.
Two prominent Scholars:
- Charles Tilly
- Harrison White
From Theorizing social networks: the relational sociology of and around Harrison White
Relational sociology provides a substantial account of social networks, conceptualizing them as real social structures interwoven with meaning. Forms of meaning connected to network configurations (as part of their ‘domains’) include stories, identities, social categories (including role categories), and institutions. Recent advances lead to a network perspective on culture, and to an emphasis on communicative events in networks. In contrast to other strands of relational sociology, the approach aims at a close connection between empirical research and theoretical reflection. Theoretical concepts and arguments are geared at empirical applicability in network research, rather than mainly providing a theoretical description of the social world.
From Relational Sociology, Culture, and Agency
While disagreement remains among network analysts regarding this issue, a broader “relational perspective” within sociology has been simmering for the past three decades, often involving scholars who themselves do not use formal network methodology, or who use it only marginally in their research. Inspired by such eminent figures as Harrison White and Charles Tilly, this perspective has taken some of the broader theoretical insights of network analysis and extended them to the realms of culture, history, politics, economics, and social psychology. Fundamental to this theoretical orientation (if it can be called that) is not merely the insistence that what sociologists call “structure” is intrinsically relational, but also, perhaps more deeply, that relational thinking is a way to overcome stale antinomies between structure and agency through a focus on the dynamics of social interactions in different kinds of social settings.
From Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences
Coming from the structuralism of network analysis, Relational Sociologists began to model social structures as networks filled with meaning. White’s Identity and Control (1992) triggered a chain of empirical studies, like Peter Bearman’s Relations into Rhetorics, Roger Gould’s Insurgent Identities, Charles Tilly’s Contentious Politics in Great Britain, 1758-1834, and Ann Mische’s Partisan Publics. Many of these today rank as milestones of Relational Sociology.
Over the past 20 years, Relational Sociology has become probably the most important and innovative research perspective in American sociology. In the social sciences in Germany, however, Relational Sociology is still little known and rarely applied. Few Relational Sociologists feature in academic references or in seminar reading lists.
In general, Relational Sociology aims at the theoretical modelling and empirical analysis of social networks as socio-cultural formations – network structure is conceived of as interwoven with cultural patterns. With this approach, Relational Sociology supersedes the pure structuralism prevalent in most network research. The central figure of Relational Sociology is Harrison White. White has shaped the work of many of the most important network researchers (from Mark Granovetter and Paul DiMaggio to Roger Gould and Ann Mische).
All of these works start from similar theoretical propositions:
The very identities of social entities (individuals or corporate actors like social movements or firms) come from the manyfold roles these entities occupy in their various networks. Accordingly, Relational Sociology focuses on the formation of meaning and identities in social networks.
Key Sources of Research:
Chains and networks, territories and scales: towards a relational framework for analysing the global economy
PETER DICKEN, PHILIP F. KELLY, KRIS OLDS and HENRY WAI-CHUNG YEUNG
Theorizing social networks: the relational sociology of and around Harrison White
International Review of Sociology: Revue Internationale de Sociologie
Volume 25, Issue 1, 2015
THE STUDY OF BOUNDARIES IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
Miche`le Lamont and Vira ́g Molna ́r
Networks and Boundaries
Globalization and Borders: Theorising Borders as Mechanisms of Connection
Relational Sociology, Culture, and Agency
Networks and Institutions
Jason Owen-Smith and Walter W. Powell
Networks, Diffusion, and Cycles of Collective Action
Pamela Oliver Daniel J. Myers
The Strength of Weak Ties
Mark S. Granovetter
The Meaning Structure of Social Networks
JAN A. FUHSE
Network Analysis, Culture, and the Problem of Agency.
Mustafa Emirbayer; Jeff Goodwin.
The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 99, No.
Manifesto for a Relational Sociology
Systems, Network, and Culture
Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences
International Symposium, Berlin, September 25/26, 2008
Networks out of Systems
Identities, boundaries and social ties.
Social Boundary Mechanisms