The concept of "social relations" in classic analytical interpretative sociology: Weber and Znaniecki
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 91 (1):119-142 (2006)
Sociology has been often defined as a science of "social relations". The aim of this article is to contribute to the clarification of this concept. I take into account only two classic analytical sociologies — those developed by Max Weber and by Florian Znaniecki. These sociologies seem to me only partly useful for the analysis of macroscale (ethnic, racial, industrial, and international) problems. They refer to human individual interactions within social collectivities, and not between them. If we follow expressis verbis the individualistic aspects of Weber's model and the analytical aspects of Znaniecki's theory, it would be difficult to base empirical investigations of social relations. The situation changes when we depart from the classics' ways of construction of the concepts of social relation and concentrate on the implication of the concept presented by the same authors. Fortunately, the research practices of both scholars encourage us to abandon a literal interpretation of their models. They present a variety of interesting typologies of social relations and social objects between which these relations can exist.
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