Gemeinsame Veranstaltung mit dem Excellenzcluster „Die Herausbildung normative Ordnungen“ und dem SFB „Schwächediskurse und Ressourcenregime“ der Goethe-Universität.
In this lecture the basic tenets of a processual theory of social life will be set forth. By starting from the premise that change is the normal state of social affairs, processual theory replaces the traditional and intractable problem of explaining change in a system presumed to be stable with the more tractable problem of explaining stability as a byproduct of certain kinds of change. Abbott sketches a social ontology in which both persons and social groups are produced as lineages defined on events through time, a move that replaces the idea of levels with that of coplanarity. He considers the nature of the present, showing how the present is not instantaneous, but has finite duration, because of the differential timing of actions, meanings, and constraints as they percolate through the social process. Abbott examines also the concept of encoding, which labels the mechanisms by which 1) the social process retains in any present a record embodying all possible causal effects of the distant past and 2) other orders of phenomena (brains, the physical environment, etc.) act as reservoirs of memory that can “come alive” later in social time. To the extent time permits, he will show the utility of this analysis in the discussion of large-scale transformations of social and cultural entities.HZ