Figurational Sociology and Methodological Relationalism – on the Ontology and Methodology of Nobert Elias

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Gert ALBERT, Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany
The paper reconstructs the methodology of Norbert Elias against the background of his ontology. Thereby Robert van Kriekens thesis will be defended that Elias is a proponent of a “third sociology”. His ontology shows that figurations are integrated wholes. Human beings form the parts of this wholes and necessarily build up social relations based upon their “relational properties”. This model of social wholes builds the finishing part of a mereological ontology of layers of the natural and social world. Physical-chemical wholes can eductively explained, biological and sociological wholes are ontologically and epistemologically irreducible because of phenomena of emergence. This ontology of Elias serves as a background for his methodology which does not favour individualist but moderat holist or relationalist explanations. With a new definition of social emergence it can be shown that relations are central factors of sociological explanations which can be found in Elias’ historical-sociological studies.