formal sociology

formal sociology

a theoretical approach in sociology which focuses attention on the universal recurring social ‘forms’ which underlie the varying ‘content’ of social interaction (see FORM AND CONTENT, DYAD AND TRIAD). Georg SIMMEL, whose sociology is most identified with this approach, referred to accounts of these forms as amounting to a ‘geometry of social life’. Following KANT, to indicate that these possess an a priori (or ‘necessary’) character as well as an empirical expression, Simmel presented his ‘forms’ as synthetic a priori concepts. Thus, these concepts are different from either conventional a priori concepts (which are purely ‘analytic’), or conventional empirical concepts (which are purely 'S ynthetic’). Among the social forms and other general concepts discussed by Simmel are ‘competition’ and ‘conflict’, SOCIABILITY, and the STRANGER.

While Simmel did not found a 'S chool’ in any strict sense, numerous influences of his formal sociology can be identified, in the work ofVon Weise, the CHICAGO SCHOOL, and GOFFMAN. see also CONFLICT THEORY.

References in periodicals archive ?
He relates the work of each major thinker to an aspect of spatiality, with Marx's exploration of the implicit spatiality of historical materialism, Simmel's ideas about the space of formal sociology, Lefebvre's notions about the source and production of space, Harvey's take on the political economy of space, and Foucault's understanding of the role of space in the distribution and implementation of knowledge and power.
But his analysis is probably better informed by his keen sense of observation and his experience as an educator than it is by formal sociology.
Models' virtue is the consistent demonstration of philosophical reflection and critique to formal sociology.

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