What’s a Collective? The Ontology of Groups, Crowds and Crews

Session Organizers
Frederic VANDENBERGHE, University State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, frederic@iesp.uerj.br
Margaret ARCHER, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, margaret.archer@epfl.ch

Session in English

Half a century ago, we talked about the Proletariat, but without examining too closely the ontological status of collectives as distinct from collectivities: Does a collective exist? Is it just a name? Can it think as a group? Can it act, and if so, how? These questions remain and have re-surfaced in analytical philosophy and social theory. However, their conceptions are diverse and often represent incompatible ontologies of collectives and collective phenomena.

Recent theoretical developments in systems theory, network analysis, actor-network theory, critical realism, pragmatism, phenomenology and analytic philosophy allow for a reconsideration of the question of collective agency and re-conceptualisation of collective intentionality, collective subjectivity, collective reflexivity, plural subjects, intentional communities, coordination of action, etc. There is an upswing in ‘Relational Sociology’ but as it not always clear whether it is persons, groups, things or even relations that are related, this term covers the same spectrum of ontological differences. There are some ‘relationists’ who want to keep their ontology flat and others who endorse a stratified ontology of relationships and their emergent properties and powers. Papers are sought that address these central issues thematically.

At ISA 2014 – http://www.isa-sociology.org/congress2014/rc/rc.php?n=RC16

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