Society, Person and Their Connections: A Bhaskarian Formulation

Subasi E.

BEYTULHIKME-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY, vol.10, no.1, pp.105-116, 2020 (ESCI) identifier


How the agency relates to society is a classic problem in the social sciences. The literature, for the most part, has long been dominated by two main methodological positions, namely methodological individualism, and methodological holism. These consider individuals and collectivities respectively as constituent parts of society. While the former suffers from an atomistic, a historical and a-social conception of social reality, the latter tends to dissolve the person into the social object and considers it as reified. The present study explores Roy Bhaskar's conception of the connection between society and person connection through his key texts. The study argues that contrary to methodological individualism and methodological holism, society is composed of relations. Furthermore, although society pre-exists the person, its survival depends upon human praxis, creating an ontological gap between them. Such an analysis has important implications for political science and political sociology. Methodological individualism underpins liberalism, utilitarianism and the neoclassical economy, methodological holism underpins nationalism, fascism, and Stalinism. In contrast, methodological relationism acknowledges both the distinctive ontologies of the person and society, which could enable the transformation of existing socio-political structures and the democratization of politics.