The Self, Relational Sociology, and Morality in Practice

Springer Verlag (2019)


Providing a theory of moral practice for a contemporary sociological audience, Owen Abbott shows that morality is a relational practice achieved by people in their everyday lives. He moves beyond old dualisms—society versus the individual, social structure versus agency, body versus mind—to offer a sociologically rigorous and coherent theory of the relational constitution of the self and moral practice, which is both shared and yet enacted from an individualized perspective. In so doing, The Self, Relational Sociology, and Morality in Practice not only offers an urgently needed account of moral practice and its integral role in the emergence of the self, but also examines morality itself within and through social relations and practices. Abbott’s conclusions will be of interest to social scientists and philosophers of morality, those working with pragmatic and interactionist approaches, and those involved with relational sociology and social theory.

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Owen Abbott
University of Manchester


Conclusion: A Relational View of Moral Phenomena

This chapter concludes the argument that a relational sociology of morality is able to provide a coherent and dynamic picture of how moral phenomena are sustained, transmitted, and transformed in interactional practice. The arguments for a Meadian-based interactional relationalism are reaffirmed, as... see more

The Self and a Relational Explanation of Morality in Practice

Abbott compellingly argues for using George Herbert Mead’s work as a basis for a relational sociology of morality. The chapter outlines why Bourdieu’s theory of habitus struggles to provide a basis for a sociology of moral practice. This is argued on the grounds that Mead’s theory of the self is fir... see more

The New Sociology of Morality and Morality in Practice

Here, Abbott provides a thought-provoking sociology of everyday engagement with morality in practice. Drawing upon sociological research into the maintenance of tact and secrecy in interactional practice , the facing of complex moral decisions within the family, and ethical consumption and the prese... see more

From Holism and Individualism to a Relational Perspective on the Sociology of Morality

This chapter outlines the necessity of a sociological view of morality. However, it is then argued that the traditional dualistic tendencies towards holism and individualism, which have plagued social theory more generally, have often likewise played themselves out in sociological conceptualisations... see more

From Rationalism to Practices, Dispositions, and Situated Subjectivities: The View from Philosophy

In this chapter relational sociology critiques of methodological individualism and rational action theories are applied specifically to a forceful critique of Enlightenment philosophy conceptualisations of the moral subject and moral action, which culminates in a decisive critical evaluation of Sing... see more

An Overview of Relational Sociology

In this chapter, Abbott provides an insightful and accessible overview of the major arguments of relational sociology, before relational approaches are drawn together with theories of practice to form a dynamic interactionist relational sociology, the virtues of which are expounded via a compelling ... see more

Introduction: A Relational Sociology of Morality in Practice

In this introductory chapter, Abbott highlights the commonalities between the relational sociology critiques of dualistic and static thinking in social theory on the one hand, and the recent philosophic critiques of the problematic reliance of Enlightenment moral thought on universalism, rationalism... see more

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