Relational Thinking

Relational Thinking by Norman Gabriel

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Thinking relationally

Norbert Elias – Figurational sociology

The key to using a figurational approach to over-come an egocentric one, is to draw

“attention to people’s interdependencies. What actually binds people together into figurations”

Elias, using a figurational perspective argues that,

“power is not an amulet possessed by one person and not by another it is a structural characteristic of human relationships – of all human relationships”

This further illustrates the ability of the figurational approach’s ability to clarify concepts, such as power, by transforming “a concept of substance to a concept of relationship”. That is the fundamental difference between traditional sociology (egocentric) and a relational sociology (figurational): traditional sociology most often treats concepts as objects and substance , while relational sociology treats concepts as processes and relationships.

To learn more about how Elias envisions a relational sociology consider checking out the following books:

Elias, N. (1978). What is Sociology? New York: Columbia University Press

Elias, N. (2000). The Civilizing Process (Rev. Ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publications

Gabriel NR & Mennell S  (2011)  Norbert Elias and Figurational Research: Processual Thinking in Sociology.  Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell

Source: The Critical Futurist

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