A redefined social relationship concept, as starting point for a social sciences convergence


Freyssenet M., A redefined social relationship concept, as starting point for a social sciences convergence, International Labour Process Conference, 2016, Berlin, 4-6 April. Éditions numériques : www.ilpc.org.uk, www.freyssenet.com , 2016, 1,21 Mo, ISSN 1776-0941.

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It is the translation, with some precisions, Freyssenet M., Le concept de rapport social, comme socle possible et acceptable d’une approche intégrée en sciences sociales, Colloque International Recherche&Régulation 2015 « La théorie de la régulation à l’épreuve des crises », Paris : 10-12 juin . Éditions numériques, freyssenet.com, 2015, 1,21 Mo, ISSN 1776-0941. of


All social sciences and most theoretical schools use the term “social relation”, but none gives a reusable definition by others. Now we have the opportunity to conceptualize it more robustly and more acceptably, showing its centrality to understand the history of societies.

The social relations that structure the societies (capital-labour relation, state relation, gender relation, market relation, cooperative relation, religious relation, etc.) govern a variable and varied human activities in time and space, and are therefore independent of the nature of these activities. The distinctions between economic, political, ideological, symbolic commonly used to categorize the social relations, are irrelevant to describe their reproduction logic, because they involves indissolubly these aspects. Social relations generate and impose their own reality and their understanding classifications, naturalizing and universalizing them. Social relations are in fact ways of living together. Their reproduction logics come into confrontation at the time of their extension to all or part of human activities.

Redefined, we will show that the concept of social relation opens a new path, possibly common to the social sciences. It enables to overcome, more successfully than other concepts, many classic and more recent conceptual oppositions that hinder the progress of the scientific debate. The concept of social relation can relaunch the research in new directions beyond disciplinary boundaries such as: highlight the logic of reproduction of all social relations, trace the history of their confrontation and the range of created possibilities, characterize each society as a particular combination-confrontation of social relations and thereby understand differently its trajectory and its crisis, analyse individual practices, their variations and ambiguities in the light of different requirements of social relations in which everyone is involved, historicise and rename the different realities hidden by the universalized notions such as: work, organization, institution, wage, money, etc. in relation to the social relations that have governed them, etc.

The previous analysis schema is used to understand the confrontation of capital-labour relation and the state relation and its role in the current crisis and in the disarray of the left, notably in France. A possible way of reversing the balance of power is evocated.

1. There is no vital necessities, but social relationships that transform the components of life in conditions of the life
2. A social relation inseparably and inextricably involves what are for us today economic, political, sociological, symbolic, etc. dimensions of social
3. A social relation is a way of living together, all or part of human activities, which provides access to what this relation transformed in conditions of physical and social life, in the place and during the time it is able to recur as a social relation
4. The capitalist relation, the state relation and the others
5. The confrontation of the capitalist relation and of the state relation exacerbated by the crisis that is prolonged in return
6. The disarray of the Left. One solution, among others, that deserves to think about

Key words

social relation, social science conceptual oppositions, interdisciplinary, national
trajectories, individual practices

Concerned disciplines

All social sciences

Writing context

to personal questioning
to scientific reflection of research laboratory or network
to national and international scientific debate
to diffusion of scientific results
to implementation of scientific results

References, commentaries, critics

Current relevance

See also

Freyssenet M., Les rapports de production: travail productif et travail improductif, Paris, CSU, 1971, 59 p. Édition numérique, freyssenet.com, 2006, 504 Ko, ISSN 1776-0941.
Freyssenet M., La division capitaliste du travail, Paris, Savelli, 1977 [1974]. Édition numérique: freyssenet.com, 2006, ISSN 1776-0941.
Freyssenet M., Le concept de rapport social peut-il fonder une autre conception de l'objectivité et une autre représentation du social? », in Freyssenet M. et Magri S. (dir.), Les rapports sociaux et leurs enjeux, CSU, Paris, tome 1, 1989, pp 9-23. Édition numérique freyssenet.com, 2006, ISSN 1776-0941.
Freyssenet M., Le rapport capital-travail et l’économique, in Freyssenet M., Magri, S.(dir.), Les rapports sociaux et leurs enjeux, Paris, CSU, tome 2, 1990, pp 5-16. Édition numérique: freyssenet.com, 2006, ISSN 1776-0941.
Freyssenet M., Processus et formes sociales d’automatisation. Le paradigme sociologique, Sociologie du Travail, n° 4/92, pp 469-496. Édition numérique, freyssenet.com, 2006, ISSN 1776-0941.
Freyssenet M., La production réflexive, une alternative à la production de masse et à la production au plus juste?, Sociologie du Travail, n°3/1995, pp 365-388. Édition numérique: freyssenet.com, 2006, ISSN 1776-0941.
Freyssenet M., The intellectual division of labour: a stake in the current crisis?, Key note, 30th International Labour Process Conference, Stockholm, 27-29 March 2012. Digital publications: freyssenet.com, 2006, ISSN 1776-0941, http://ilpc2012stockholm .

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