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Chapter Summary

The meaning of the social entertains a relation of interdependence with the meaning of a few further notions, especially the political and the natural. This chapter offers a few further conceptual distinctions, looking especially at more technical uses of the concept of the social and at their historical developments. The relegation of all manifestations of the immaterial side of social life (not only ideas but also concepts and categories, social imaginaries, collective representations) to being a mere epiphenomenon of social structure constitutes a very strong, and thus obviously debatable, methodological position. Society initially carried a range of essentially voluntaristic meanings, clustered around two poles: association of partnership for a common purpose, on the one hand; friendship, comradeship, companionability, on the other.

Keywords: historical developments; social structure



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