Boundaries and Relational Sociology

In the age of globalization, our analysis should focus on Networks/Linkages and Boundaries.  There are several important issues:

  • Relations
  • Networks
  • Culture
  • Identity
  • Control
  • Meaning
  • Boundaries
  • Hierarchy

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

Click to access DKOY_2001.pdf

 

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

 

Click to access 568bd4cd08ae8f6ec752350e.pdf

 

Networks and Boundaries

Athanasios Karafillidis

 

Click to access Netbound.pdf

 

Globalization and Borders: Theorising Borders as Mechanisms of Connection

Anthony Cooper

 

Click to access 2013cooperaphd.pdf

 

Relational Sociology, Culture, and Agency

Ann Mische

 

Click to access mische_relational_sociology_2011.pdf

 

Networks and Institutions

Jason Owen-Smith and Walter W. Powell

Click to access SAGE.pdf

 

Networks, Diffusion, and Cycles of Collective Action

Pamela Oliver Daniel J. Myers

Click to access NetworksDiffusionCycles.pdf

 

The Strength of Weak Ties

Mark S. Granovetter

Click to access the_strength_of_weak_ties_and_exch_w-gans.pdf

 

The Meaning Structure of Social Networks

JAN A. FUHSE

Click to access FuhseMeaningNetworks.pdf

 

Network Analysis, Culture, and the Problem of Agency.

Mustafa Emirbayer; Jeff Goodwin.

The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 99, No.

Click to access ais94.pdf

 

Manifesto for a Relational Sociology

Mustafa Emirbayer

Click to access Emirbayer%20Manifesto%20for%20a%20Relational%20Sociology.pdf

 

Systems, Network, and Culture

Dirk Baecker

2008

 

Click to access baecker4.pdf

 

Relational Sociology: Transatlantic Impulses for the Social Sciences

International Symposium, Berlin, September 25/26, 2008

http://www.janfuhse.de/relational-sociology/program.html

 

Networks out of Systems

Boris Holzer

 

Click to access holzer.pdf

 

Tilly, Charles.

Identities, boundaries and social ties.

Routledge, 2015.

 

Social Boundary Mechanisms

CHARLES TILLY

2004

Click to access 2004_SocialBoundary.pdf

 

 

 

Author: Mayank Chaturvedi

You can contact me using this email mchatur at the rate of AOL.COM. My professional profile is on Linkedin.com.

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