Relational Sociology on a Global Scale: Field-Theoretical Perspectives on Cross-Cultural Comparison and the Re-Figuration of Space(s)
Keywords:comparative sociology, cross-cultural comparison, field theory, field of power, figurational sociology, international comparison, sociology of space, relationality, re-figuration of space
Comparison, as a fundamental operation in the social sciences, is anything but a clearly defined method. Rather, there is a highly heterogeneous field of comparative approaches with different intellectual traditions, ideas of "comparison," specific problems, and research strategies. In fact, different streams of comparative studies exist in parallel, each highly elaborated in its own way but largely ignoring the achievements of the other tradition and thus ultimately wasting analytical potential—namely cross-national studies (often associated with quantitative methods and explanatory objectives) on the one hand and cross-cultural studies or cultural comparisons (usually associated with qualitative methods and hermeneutical approaches) on the other. However, contemporary social sciences are confronted with an increasingly complex global reality that can no longer be described on the basis of one-dimensional frames of reference. Drawing on the basic methodological principle of relationality, the aim of our article is to develop Pierre BOURDIEU's theory of fields and social spaces in a direction that allows different approaches to comparison to be made fruitful on the basis of a common frame of reference. Based on this generalized framework, national, international, and transnational comparisons become possible without having to essentialize or hypostasize specific reference frames and corresponding units of analysis.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Daniel Witte, Andreas Schmitz
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