An Ontology for Organization & Collective Action

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:10
Oral Presentation
Thiago PIMENTEL, Federal University of Juiz de Fora / UFJF, Brazil
This theoretical essay seeks to explore the insertion of critical realism in contemporary social theory, as a basic intermezzo from which it is necessary to draw up a realistic social theory of organizations and collective action. It is argued that the theoretical convergence between organizational and the collective action sociologies (O&CAS), identified by Friedberg (1993), can be explored within a critical realist perspective of social theory, where the theory of collective subjectivities (Domingues, 1995; Vandenberghe, 2007) plays an important role as a new form to consider causality.

The application of the principles of stratified ontology proposed by the critical realism (RC), as well as the paradigmatic commensurability between the natural and social sciences – that is possible by intransitive level of sharing the reality -, results in a sociology of levels (Brante 2001; Vandenberghe, 2007a,b; 2010). So it makes possible to localize the organizations and institutions at an intermediate level of the relationship between agency and structure (Archer, 2000; Fleetwood & Ackroyd, 2004; Fleetwood, 2005; 2008a; 2008b; Elder-Vass, 2010; Vandenberghe, 2010) as a real entity with its own existence and causal powers that can interfere with reality. It is, therefore, a legitimate instance of studies in social theory - and, by extension, within the O&CAS - and a supposedly appropriate level to deepen the knowledge about the processes of constitution of society (Ackroyd, 2000).

Conversely, the focus of the debate on O&CAS can be fruitful for its own social theory, as a hole, in that the opening of the "black box" of meso-sociological level (Bourdieu, 2001) may reveal processes and mechanisms related to the agency issue, as this is an intermediate category in the relationship between agency and structure (Fleetwood, 2008b; Elder-Vass, 2010), considering thatto date there is no due attention to it in social theory (Ackroyd, 2000).