On Relational Sociology 2015/10/30 @Matsumoto Seminar Camp
Agenda • A brief introduction to so-called “Relational Sociology”. • Because this school isn’t yet to be widely known in Japan. • Today, I focus on actual works rather than conceptual discussion. • … in relation to my own research.
My research projects (independent each other, so far.) 1. How does homophily in japan differs from other countries? 2. Does homophily exist classroom and on-line too? 3. What is consequences if everyone strives to locate in advantageous positions in social network ? 4. How was cross-cutting social circles formed?
What is “Relational Sociology”? • Relational Sociology is a school that deems social relations the most import ant concept. • Further, some sociologist in this school regard only social relations as analysi s units. = radical relationalism(Powell 2013) • They describe or explain social phenomena by an analogy to social network s. • The founding father of this school is Harrison C. White, who rarely –probabl y never uses the term “relational sociology”. • The name “Relational Sociology” was first used by Emirbayer(1997).
Characteristics of Relational Sociology • Refusing categorical world-views. - (e.g.) interest is formed in relation to social relations, not to one’s attributes. see also Gould(1995) • Trying to overcome the duality of agency-structure.(in detail, see Emirbayer and Goodwin(1994) or Emirbayer(1997))
Forerunners • George Simmel – Formal Sociology • Norbert Elias – Configurational Sociology • Pierre Bourdieu – Structural Relation • Bruno Latour – Actor Network Theory
Relations among Relational Sociologist s (Fuhse 2015: 22)
The Core -Harrison C. White Born in 1930, Washington D.C. Ph.D(Theoretical Physics, MIT) Ph.D(Sociology, Princeton) MAIN WORKS Anatomy of Kinship – algebraic model of kinship structure Chains of Opportunity – “vacancy chains” theory Blockmodeling – a method for grouping by specifying structural e quivalent actors → the Harvard Breakthrough Identity and Control
Identity and Control (1992,2008) KEY CONCEPTS • Identitiy • Footing • Switchings • Netdom • CATNET • Stories • Styles • Rhetorics • Disciplines … and so on.
Difficulties reading Identity and Control • White built his theory on the basis of physics. So we need to get used to t he world view that physics adopts. • His theory includes the problem of reflexibility. (so he often refers to Luh mann) • This book is not only about human relations but also about meaning that emerges from social networks. • Concepts he uses are cross-referring, so that it is difficult to grasp exact m eanings of them at a first reading. • Next, we’l pick up some of White’s concepts and try to outline them.
Identity • Identitiy is the smallest analysis unit for White’s theory. • The concept of identity can be divided into five senses. 1. The smallest unit of analysis 2. A connected bunch of first-sense-identities 3. The trace of identities in different netdoms (I’ll mention this later) 4. The interpretation of the third sense 5. A dynamic, self-reproducing amalgam across profiles of switchings (17-18)
Footing • Identities are always seeking footing. • “identities spring up out of efforts at control in turbulent context.”(1) • “identity achieves social footing as both a source and a destination of communications to which identities attribute meaning.”(1) • “Human social process typically orients around meanings of events an d interpretations of relations among identities.”(3)
Netdom, Switchings • “Identities trigger out of events – that is to say, out of switches in surr oundings – seeking control over uncertainty and thus over fellow iden tities. Identities build and articulate ties to other identities in network- domains, netdoms, for short.”(2) • “The important point is that, although you log out, your identity in tha t forum, your account, remains, so your postings are not deleted by th e logout process. (…) But the interaction has just switched from one n etdom to another. ” • “Switchings are the vehicles of meaning for identity and control.”(17)
CATNET • A term which combined “CATEGORY” and “NETWORK” • Dense cluster of network ⇆ Social category to it • This is meaning in general of CATNET, but White himself gives much m ore complicated definition to this concept. (see below) • “Similarity in attributes will generate groups out of categories. Yet net work ties will continue to be recognized, interwining across categories without recognition of the network as such. Label this generalization a nd loosening of the concept a category-network, abbreviated as catne t.”(53)
In relation to my own research • Each media-layers are understood as netdoms. • If it is true that switchings engender meanings, I have to do qualitative researches as well as quantitative one. switching Meaning Meaning switching
Another Giant – John Levi Martin • He is known as the advocate of “field theory.” • The concept of “Heuristics” is also important (for my research.)
From Social Structures • Strucure is not only objective but also subjective. • “Since the structures that wil be examined here are simple, the imperatives for action that constitute their subjective correlatives are also simple; I shal refer to such subjective understandings as heuristics.”(18) • “Heuriustics work wel because they are “ecological y rational” in that they make use of predictable features of the natural or social environment to simplify otherwise daunting process tasks.”
In relation to my own research • Now I suppose one’s own utilities are calculated on the basis of objective local network, that is, second-order neighborhood from point of view of ego. It reflects the condition of imperfect information. • But is it true? This conversion means extracting subnetwork from the objective network. But This should be the rare case of heuristics actors actually adopts.
Is Relatinal Sociology structuralism? • Partly false. • According to Dépelteau(2013), there are three types of RS. • Deterministic RS – social networks determine one’s action (≡ strucuturalism?) • Co-deterministic RS – adding person’s ability to deterministic RS • Transactional sociology – “deep” relational ontology. No need to presuppose “agency-structure” or “subject-object”. There are only transactions between a ctors.
Masterpieces of relational sociology • Padgett and Ansel (1993) - Explaining the Rise of the Medici. They revealed that the Medici was located in the positio n that brokered economic “new men” and conventional aristocracies. (c.f. Burt(1992)) • Gould(1991,1995) - About the mobilization in Paris Commune. This research revealed that insurgents were m obilized by social relations (e.g. neighborhood) rather than their class interests. This implies that social identity is not determined by their attributes, but among social relations. • Bearman and Stovel(2000) - converting life-stories of early Nazis into narrative networks and analyzing them. In the re sult, stories about “becoming” and “being” Nazi different in the extent of forming “self”.
In comparison to “Analytical Sociolog y” • Analytical Sociology is a research program led by Peter Hedström(2005). • Trying to shed light on mechanisms behind social phenomena. • Explaining social phenomena rather than describing it. • If you’d like to know in detail, see 打越・前嶋(in press)
In comparison to “Analytical Sociolog y” • Two views have much in common. (ex. Opposition to “variable sociology”, Emphasizing on process, etc.) • According to Abbott(2007), Mechanism Views (=AS,RAT) focus on “agent” and “purpose” Relational Views (=RS) focus on “action” and “scene” • I contend that two views are not necessarily contradictory or exclusive.
Intersection of two paradigms: An exam ple • “Chains of Affection” written by Bearman et al.(2004) • Dealing with social relations by analytical methods (ex. ERGM) (Bearman et al. 2014: 58)
Open question • What is the difference between “action” and “relation”? -For example, “friend” relation is often equivalent to “acting-with” -Crossley once defined social relations as “lived trajectories of iterated interacti on”(Crossley 2010). This definitions is much about “expectation”. But how much can this metaphysical existence help us understand social action? • Can we transform all social phenomena into relational forms? -Many social phenomena can be converted into adjacent matrix. (ex. affiliation) -but what cannot be graspd by the relational approach.
Reference • Abbott, A. (2007). Mechanisms and relations. Sociologica, 1(2), 0-0. • Bearman, P. S., Moody, J., & Stovel, K. (2004). Chains of affection: The structure of adolesc ent romantic and sexual networks1. American journal of sociology, 110(1), 44-91. • Bearman, P. S., & Stovel, K. (2000). Becoming a Nazi: A model for narrative networks. Poeti cs, 27(2), 69-90. • Burt, R. S. (2009). Structural holes: The social structure of competition. Harvard university press. • Crossley, N. (2010). Towards relational sociology. Routledge. • Emirbayer, M., & Goodwin, J. (1994). Network analysis, culture, and the problem of agenc y. American journal of sociology, 1411-1454. • Emirbayer, M. (1997). Manifesto for a relational sociology 1. American journal of sociolog y, 103(2), 281-317.
Reference • Gould, R. V. (1991). Multiple networks and mobilization in the Paris Commune, 1871. American Sociological Review, 716-729. • Fuhse, J. A. (2015). Theorizing social networks: the relational sociology of and around Harrison White. International Review of Sociology, 25(1), 15-44.Gould, R. V. (1995). Insurgent identities: Class, community, and protest in Paris from 1848 to the Commune. University of Chicago Press. • Hedström, P. (2005). Dissecting the social: On the principles of analytical sociology (pp. 114-4 4). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Martin, J. L. (2009). Social structures. Princeton University Press. • Padgett, J. F., & Ansell, C. K. (1993). Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400-1434. Amer ican journal of sociology, 1259-1319. • Powell, C., & Dépelteau, F. (2013). Conceptualizing relational sociology: Ontological and theore tical issues. Palgrave Macmil an. • White, H. C. (2008). Identity and control: How social formations emerge. Princeton University P ress.