Relational Ontology of the Social World: Charles H. Cooley's Paradigm

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Aleksander MANTERYS, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Cooley’s thought is characterized by theoretical timelessness. Its
first important feature is the idea of a system, which calls for joint
consideration of a whole and its parts, along with their relations in
time and under specified circumstances. The second key point is the
idea of changeability, which requires tracking not only ordinary
emergence, but also (and, perhaps, most importantly) the changes
affecting the structures and processes of human life. The third
feature of Cooley's thought is relationality, which excludes any
atomistic views of social life and calls for the identification of
social ties, their strength and meaning, their moral overtones and
individual concretization, as well as their reference to broader
systems and networks. The fourth one is the idea of complexity, which
means that individual configurations or weaves of relations, phenomena
and things or objects should be treated as irreducible to their
components. The fifth one is interpenetration, continuous permeation
or overlapping of various orders of reality: material and spiritual or
ideal, instincts and norms, biological and situational constraints,
and conscience.
Together, these five basic presuppositions form a relatively coherent
relational paradigm of the social world. Its analytical reconstruction
serves to provoke reflection whether, and to what extent, Cooley’s
theoretical ideas find their continuation within contemporary
sociology, e.g. in the works of Goffman, Moscovici or Scheff. This
could significantly contribute to a better articulation of those
variants of contemporary relational sociology that recognize the
transactional nature of human experience as a basic heuristics in the
analysis of constitution and reconstitution of the social order.