Developing the concept of society: Institutional domains, regimes of inequalities and complex systems in a global era

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This article develops the concept of society to meet the challenge of cross-border and global processes. Global processes have made visible the inadequacy of interpreting the concept of society as if it were a nation-state, since there is a lack of congruence of institutional domains (economy, polity, civil society, violence) and regimes of inequality (class, gender, ethnicity). The article engages with two strands of intellectual heritage in sociological analysis of society as a macro concept: the differentiation of institutions and the relations of inequality. The concepts of society and societalisation are developed by hybridising these two approaches rather than selecting only one or the other. To achieve this, the concept of system is developed by drawing on complexity science. This enables the simultaneous analysis of differentiated institutional domains (economy, polity, violence, civil society) and multiple regimes of inequality without reductionism. In turn, this facilitates the fluent theorisation of variations in the temporal and spatial reach of social systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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