On the Sociological Use of Narratives
DOI link for On the Sociological Use of Narratives
On the Sociological Use of Narratives book
If it is true that when comparing sociology and literature, what emerges are similarities and differences, and that the relation between the two fields may be understood both in terms of integration and conflict, then it is necessary to specify why literature, fictional narratives in particular, has had such great appeal for sociologists, both as a source of inspiration and a source of data. Before doing so, I must turn to two preliminary themes central to understanding the role of fiction for sociology. The former concerns society as the subject matter of sociology, the latter the relevance of narrativity as a tool for empirically understanding the social. I believe these themes to be interconnected. When sociologists attempt to qualify society as an object of investigation, they are likely to be overwhelmed by the multiplicity of possible meanings that the word ‘society’ may assume. My hypothesis is that the sociological relevance of narratives depends in part on the plurality of answers that may be given to the ontological question of sociology’s proper object. Depending on the different concepts that have been used to qualify the object of sociology, different ways of conceiving of empirical reality have been developed, together with different methods and techniques. Within this plurality of approaches, narratives assume a unifying role, since, in order to understand social reality, one has to presuppose a narrative comprehension of social action. My hypothesis is that the ontological question of the definition of the object is interconnected with the methodological relevance of narration.