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Two Ontological Orientations in Sociology: Building Social Ontologies and Blurring the Boundaries of the ‘Social’

The article highlights two contrasting ways in which social theorists have been trying to define the ontological boundaries of sociology since the early days of the discipline. Some (e.g. Durkheim, Weber, and critical realists) have attempted to demarcate social reality as a causally autonomous and... Full description

Journal Title: Sociology August 2015, Vol.49(4), pp.732-747
Main Author: Karakayali, Nedim
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
ID: ISSN: 0038-0385 ; E-ISSN: 1469-8684 ; DOI: 10.1177/0038038514551089
Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0038038514551089
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recordid: sage_s10_1177_0038038514551089
title: Two Ontological Orientations in Sociology: Building Social Ontologies and Blurring the Boundaries of the ‘Social’
format: Article
creator:
  • Karakayali, Nedim
subjects:
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Critical Realism
  • Evolutionary Theory
  • History of Sociology
  • Ontology
  • Social Ontology
  • Systems Theory
  • Sociology & Social History
ispartof: Sociology, August 2015, Vol.49(4), pp.732-747
description: The article highlights two contrasting ways in which social theorists have been trying to define the ontological boundaries of sociology since the early days of the discipline. Some (e.g. Durkheim, Weber, and critical realists) have attempted to demarcate social reality as a causally autonomous and qualitatively distinct realm in a segmented/stratified universe. Others (e.g. Tarde, Spencer, Luhmann, sociobiologists, and actor-network theorists) have postulated a more open (or flat) ontological space and blurred such demarcations by either rejecting the causal autonomy of sociological phenomena, or their qualitative distinctiveness, or both. So far, there has been little convergence between these two orientations since according to the former, the opening of the boundaries is likely to give way to reductionist conceptions of society, whereas the latter tends to associate rigid boundaries with essentialism. Through a close examination of these opposing orientations, the article aims to shed light on current ontological dilemmas of sociology.
language: eng
source:
identifier: ISSN: 0038-0385 ; E-ISSN: 1469-8684 ; DOI: 10.1177/0038038514551089
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 0038-0385
  • 00380385
  • 1469-8684
  • 14698684
url: Link


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descriptionThe article highlights two contrasting ways in which social theorists have been trying to define the ontological boundaries of sociology since the early days of the discipline. Some (e.g. Durkheim, Weber, and critical realists) have attempted to demarcate social reality as a causally autonomous and qualitatively distinct realm in a segmented/stratified universe. Others (e.g. Tarde, Spencer, Luhmann, sociobiologists, and actor-network theorists) have postulated a more open (or flat) ontological space and blurred such demarcations by either rejecting the causal autonomy of sociological phenomena, or their qualitative distinctiveness, or both. So far, there has been little convergence between these two orientations since according to the former, the opening of the boundaries is likely to give way to reductionist conceptions of society, whereas the latter tends to associate rigid boundaries with essentialism. Through a close examination of these opposing orientations, the article aims to shed light on current ontological dilemmas of sociology.
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The article highlights two contrasting ways in which social theorists have been trying to define the ontological boundaries of sociology since the early days of the discipline. Some (e.g. Durkheim, Weber, and critical realists) have attempted to demarcate social reality as a causally autonomous and qualitatively distinct realm in a segmented/stratified universe. Others (e.g. Tarde, Spencer, Luhmann, sociobiologists, and actor-network theorists) have postulated a more open (or flat) ontological space and blurred such demarcations by either rejecting the causal autonomy of sociological phenomena, or their qualitative distinctiveness, or both. So far, there has been little convergence between these two orientations since according to the former, the opening of the boundaries is likely to give way to reductionist conceptions of society, whereas the latter tends to associate rigid boundaries with essentialism. Through a close examination of these opposing orientations, the article...

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The article highlights two contrasting ways in which social theorists have been trying to define the ontological boundaries of sociology since the early days of the discipline. Some (e.g. Durkheim, Weber, and critical realists) have attempted to demarcate social reality as a causally autonomous and qualitatively distinct realm in a segmented/stratified universe. Others (e.g. Tarde, Spencer, Luhmann, sociobiologists, and actor-network theorists) have postulated a more open (or flat) ontological space and blurred such demarcations by either rejecting the causal autonomy of sociological phenomena, or their qualitative distinctiveness, or both. So far, there has been little convergence between these two orientations since according to the former, the opening of the boundaries is likely to give way to reductionist conceptions of society, whereas the latter tends to associate rigid boundaries with essentialism. Through a close examination of these opposing orientations, the article...

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lad01Sociology
date2015-08