[Air-l] Re: Company vs. Community

Christian Nelson cnelson at comm.umass.edu
Tue Dec 18 20:05:12 PST 2001

jeremy hunsinger wrote:

> >>
> >
> > I.e., Luhmen is yet another social scientist who portrays societies as
> > monoliths. While there may be sociological reasons for such notions,
> > there
> > certainly aren't empirical ones.
> > --Christian Nelson
> >
> I think given the extensive definition of society that any  and all
> empirical evidence would prove the case...  I think one would be
> hard-pressed to find evidence contrary because it is really a definitional
> constraint ie all a are b, not an empirical one if it is a, then it is b.

I believe that one cannot define things into existence. Societies, as
Luhmann, etc. define them, simply don't exist, or rather, only exist in the
realm of the discourse of sociological theory and theorists rather than in
the world of "commonsense" action. Since the latter realm is the one that
social scientists usually if not always claim to be making conclusions
about, this is a problem for them. The article by Moerman that I cited
earlier provides empirical support, through an analysis of actual discourse
and activity, for the claim that societies aren't monolithic,
supra-individual things. Rather, Moerman shows, among other things, that
societies are defeasible constructions negotiated in individual instances of
discourse in light of particular interests. Again, Sharrock and Anderson's
piece provides strong support for this argument, too.
--Christian Nelson

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