Article

AN OUTLINE OF RELATIONAL SOCIOLOGY FROM A CRITICAL, ANALYTICAL AND REALIST VIEWPOINT

Pierpaolo Donati (pierpaolo.donati@unibo.it)
School of Political Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy

Citation: Donati P. (2017) An Outline of Relational Sociology from a Critical, Analytical and Realist Viewpoint. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 20(1): 5–21.

Abstract. In this paper, the author presents his original version of relational sociology (critical realist relational sociology-CRRS), which is also called ‘relational theory of society’. It shares with other versions of relational sociology the aim to understand social facts as relationally constituted entities stemming from the dialectic between structures and interactive processes. But it diff ers from the radically constructivist and relativistic versions (here referred to as ‘relationist sociologies’) as regards the way in which social relations are defined, the kind of reality that is attributed to them, how they configure social formations, and the ways in which they are generated (emergence) and changed (morphogenesis). The paper clarifies the advantages that this original perspective offers in explaining a series of social issues. In particular, it can orient social research toward unseen and/or immaterial realities. Empirically, it can show how new social forms are created, changed, or destroyed depending on different processes of valorization or devalorization of social relations. Ultimately, the task of this approach is to point to the possibility of envisaging those social relations that can better realize the humanity of social agents and give them the opportunity to achieve a good life.

Keywords: relational sociology, relational social theory, emergentism, relational goods, humanistic sociology

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