The Essential Ambiguity of the Social

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (2):108-136 (2019)
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Abstract

Methodological divisions in sociology, the study of the social, are not just deep and persistent but patterned—most obviously in the separate development of qualitative methods in ethnography and grounded theory, but also in subsidiary divisions within those separations, following the same pattern. The pattern being too deep-rooted to be explained as empirical happenstance, it will be explored here as the effect of an equally deep-rooted condition. More exactly, through postulating that sociology’s subject-matter, the social, is ontologically rooted in an essential ambiguity between abstraction and individuation. Four criteria are drawn from the idea of the dichotomy being constitutively essential, which this or any alternative candidates must meet. The article conducts the postulate through the criteria, and applies the criterion of separating better from worse sociological theory to the work of Pierre Bourdieu.

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Citations of this work

Universities as Social Background in “Trading Zone” Creation.Evgeny Maslanov - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (6):493-509.
The Wholly Social or the Holy Social?: Recognising Theological Tensions in Sociology.Tom Boland - 2020 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 81 (2):174-192.

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References found in this work

Handbook of Qualitative Research.N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln - 1994 - British Journal of Educational Studies 42 (4):409-410.
Forms of Talk.Erving Goffman - 1981 - Human Studies 5 (2):147-157.
Forms of Talk.Erving Goffman - 1981 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 17 (3):181-182.

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