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Methodologies for studying figurations

Posted on by Stephen Mennell

Methodologies for studying figurations: an open question about best practices

In What is Sociology? Elias makes the following observation: ‘If sociology has to investigate figurational processes resembling complex games, then statistical aids must be developed which will be suited to this task’  (1978: 132). This statement was originally published in 1970, technologically speaking a long time ago. Much has changed in terms of the development of statistical modelling systems, and other tools for analysis. Sensing an affinity between the figurational processes Elias explains (which we seek to study in our respective research projects: a) understanding and explaining ecological habitus development processes and b) the analysis of path-dependency in processes of overuse) and the uses of sophisticated game models, complexity theory, resilience theory, and complex systems thinking in general, we want to learn more about whether and how sociologists are using these and other methodologies to study figurations.

We would appreciate any input about this topic. We look forward to hearing from you!

Debbie V.S. Kasper, Sweet Briar College, VA, USA

Wijnand Boonstra, Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden,