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The Relational Gaze on a Changing Society


Edited By Paolo Terenzi and Elisabetta Carrà

Relational sociology is coming increasingly to the fore on the international academic stage. As it invariably happens in such circumstances, when a new paradigm attracts a growing number of scholars, researchers and practitioners, it is almost inevitably interpreted and identified in many different ways. This book aims to highlight the specific nature of relational sociology, disseminates knowledge about the relational approach which has been developed in Italy and in Europe starting from the work of Pierpaolo Donati, and confronts this approach with issues which are currently much debated in social theory, social research and social work. The authors try to consolidate the directions taken in the research field in order to distinguish relational sociology from other approaches which are not relational, or are only so to a certain degree.

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For many years now, there has been a growing interest in relational approaches in sociological literature. In the early stages of elaborating relational paradigms, a common concern among various scholars (such as Pierpaolo Donati, Guy Bajoit and Mustafa Emirbayer) was the question of dealing with classical sociological approaches and highlighting the specific and innovative contribution of their relational approach. From the scientific point of view, therefore, the emerging relational paradigms had the problem of self-legitimising and the privileged terms of comparison were represented by the paradigms centred on individual action or on social structures. After this first phase, relational sociologies experienced an impetuous and multifaceted development in many countries that has progressively led to a sort of institutionalization. Not only has the international literature on relational sociology grown very significantly (Palgrave published the first Handbook of Relational Sociology in 2018), but an international network of Relational Studies in Sociology was formed and a Relational Sociology section was established within the Canadian Sociology Association. The essays included in this volume are a valuable contribution both for getting to know the relational approach that has been developed in Italy and in Europe, starting from the work of Pierpaolo Donati, and for confronting issues that are currently much debated in social theory, social research and social work. The fist part of the volume contains theoretical contributions. It opens with an essay (P. Donati) which reflects on the main theoretical problems currently affecting relational sociologies by comparing approaches that are significantly different...

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