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Manifesto for a Relational Sociology1

New School for Social Research

Sociologists today are faced with a fundamental dilemma: whether to conceive of the social world as consisting primarily in substances or processes, in static "things" or in dynamic, unfolding relations. Rational‐actor and norm‐based models, diverse holisms and structuralisms, and statistical "variable" analyses continue implicitly or explicitly to prefer the former point of view. By contrast, this "manifesto" presents an alternative, "relational" perspective, first in broad, philosophical outlines, then by exploring its implications for both theory and empirical research. In the closing pages, it ponders some of the difficulties and challenges now facing relational analysis, taking up in turn the issues of boundaries and entities, network dynamics, causality, and normative implications.