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Relational Sociology And Dialectic

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author considers sociology from the vantage point of relational analysis. The chapter uses Emirbayer's essay as a point of departure to show how a dialectical approach can advance the quest for a relational sociology through offering answers to his questions. It does so, first, by distinguishing external from internal relations approaches to social reality. It then presents the ontological foundations of Marx's approach to social scientific inquiry, explaining their utility for Emirbayer's questions. The internal relations approach helps us address Emirbayer's concerns over demarcating units of study, characterizing what obtains inside their boundaries, how to conceptualize and analyze them. The chapter examines these concerns further by comparing conventional approaches in social science with the alternatives the internal relations perspective poses on the following issues: ontology and taxonomy; "society" versus "capitalism"; forms of class analysis; and operational definitions (and statistical analysis) versus essentialism.

Keywords: Marx; relational sociology; social reality; social science; social scientific inquiry; Emirbayer



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