Fluxes and Structures: Which Relational Gaze? A Comparison between Relational Sociologies
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University of Bologna
Publication date: 2020-06-24
Polish Sociological Review 2020;210(2):179–198
Many scholars today share a view of relational sociology as a processual-transactional approach whose basic tenet is the fluid, relativistic, contingent, transactional character of social relations. They invite sociologists to see our so-called objects (societies, institutions, social patterns, conflicts, social movements, social classes, etc.) in a processual way. In this contribution the author objects that relationalism offers a reductive vision of social reality, because it supports a flat social ontology rather than a stratified social ontology. Relationalism reduces relationships to pure flows, considering structures as purely contingent, while relational sociology attributes a structure to relationships and gives autonomy to structures, even if they are produced by processes. We have to distinguish between different orders of reality: the processual-interactional (relationalist) and the relational orders. To see all of this, it is necessary to assume a relational gaze that is only possible if a supra-functional, morphogenetic framework is adopted.