Toward an Interactionist Sociology of Ethnic Relations
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AGH University of Science and Technology
Publication date: 2012-03-21
Polish Sociological Review 2012;177(1):19-38
This text has three parts. In the first, I discuss the presence and absence of the concept of “social relations” in social sciences and focus on “ethnic relations.” Then, I analyse theways inwhich the theoretical problems of ethnic relations are conceptualized in sociology. Finally, I offer my own suggestions. Why is it worth dealing with concepts of interactions and social relations at all, especially with respect to macrosocial phenomena (such as “ethnic issues”)? First, it seems to me that these are some of sociology’s most basic concepts. Second, the relational and interactionist current in contemporary sociology offers some important inspirations relating to the analysis of macrocultural phenomena. I suggest to follow Randall Collins’ ideas and seek the “microfoundations” of macrosocial phenomena in the chains of interaction rituals present at the foundation of society as such. I intend to avoid such a sociological approach to ethnicity which calls all ethnic phenomena “ethnic relations” but in fact deals mainly with individual groups, types of structured ethnic order or attitudes. Actually, ethnic order rests on the interactionist understanding of the social relations between ethnic actors. It is these relations which dynamize social order.
I would like to thank two PSR reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. I partly draw from reinterpreted material used in fragments of my Polish-language book, see Mucha 2006
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