Relational sociology at #ISA18wcs

This week I am at the XIX International Sociological Association World Congress in Toronto. It is a major international sociology conference and importantly, includes many sessions on relational sociology. For many, this conference represents a great opportunity to build on the work of a series of books edited by Francois Depelteau such as The Palgrave Handbook of Relational Sociology and previous works with Christopher Powell Conceptualizing Relational Sociology and Applying Relational Sociology. And an opportunity to build further momentum in the Palgrave Studies in Relational Sociology book series.

Across the week there are 26 papers being presented that draw on the diversity of relational approaches. Including:


Tuesday, 17 July 17:30-19:20 (206A, MTCC North Building)

Relational sociology: What are ‘relations’ and why does it matter to study relations.


Wednesday, 18 July 09:30-18:30 (Sociology Department, University of Toronto)

This day includes, courtesy of the Sociology Department of the University of Toronto, the presentation of 12 distributed papers from #ISA18wcs


Thursday, 19 July 10:30-12:20 (701A MTCC South Building)

The relational-processual turn in sociology: Theoretical discussions and debates

This is the session I am presenting in. The abstract for my paper is:

Classic organizational theories build on substantialist assumptions and grant ontological status to organizations. Rarely do the underlying generative principles of scholarship get illuminated. With an inter-disciplinary and global scale, various networks of scholars, a volume of contributions in journals and books (e.g., The Palgrave Handbook of Relational Sociology), and an array of international meetings, Prandini (2015) argues there is a ‘relational turn’ in the social sciences. The label ‘turn’ indicates an epistemological breakthrough that has transformed an intellectual space, altering its constitution and ‘providing a blueprint for new developments’ (Gulson & Symes, 2017, p. 125). Drawing insights from the recently published Beyond Leadership: A Relational Approach to Organizational Theory in Education (Eacott, 2018), this paper offers a starting point for the relational approach I am advancing through the explicit articulation of a concept glossary. Paying attention to the core thrust of the relational program – the relational extensions – this paper demonstrates how the key concepts of organizing activity, auctor, and spatio-temporal conditions are crucial to maintaining theoretical integrity and coherence. Creating distinctions from other ‘relational’ positions, such as the adjectival, co-determinist, and conflationary, I offer a nuanced, within the confines of a conference paper, account of how a relational approach and explanatory framing differs from hegemonic substantialist approaches. This paper is not about constructing a dense and inaccessible technical language rather, articulating and defending a vocabulary to discuss and understand the social world relationally. As a series of starting points, this paper contributes to bringing some clarity and coherence to shared principles of relational approaches for understanding and significantly, how these ideas and concepts can be mobilized for empirical work courtesy of insights from an ongoing project on principals experiences of temporality.


Saturday, 21 July, 14:30-16:20 (718B MTCC South Building)

The relational-processual turn in sociology: Relationism in empirical studies


This is further evidence on the growing momentum of relational sociology on a global scale and the basis from which ongoing networking and a global intellectual infrastructure can support.

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