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The Cambridge Social Ontology Group, or CSOG, has been formed with the aim of pursuing social ontology, the systematic study of the nature and basic structure of social reality.
A motivating belief is that there is much to be gained not only from the determination of new social categories, where appropriate, but also from the systematic study and elaboration of such familiar categories as process, change, difference, gender, race, space, time, law, internal-relationality, open and closed systems, value, money, markets, firms, regions, power, authority, trust, testimony, institutions, norms, rules, custom, convention, profit, output, income, wealth, identity, individual, social evolution, development, human flourishing, probability, society and economy.
Broadly a distinction is drawn between philosophical ontology, the study of features possessed by all phenomena of any domain, and scientific ontology, interpreted as the study of specific phenomena of a domain. Thus for the social realm, philosophical ontology might be concerned with the manner in which social phenomena depend on us (and its results have included claims that social reality is an emergent realm that is everywhere open, structured, processual, interrelated and so on); whilst scientific ontology might concern itself with the nature of technology, money, gender, markets and so forth.
The purpose of CSOG is not only to increase understanding of the nature of social reality but also to be explicit about how results in social ontology are able to make a difference, especially to more substantive forms of social theorising.
Amongst other things, CSOG hopes to initiate collaborative (interdisciplinary) research projects, conferences, summer schools, reading groups and other activities concerned with social ontology. Although the group is based in Cambridge, network members of CSOG are internationally spread. We are keen to link up with others, whatever their disciplinary or other backgrounds, who share similar concerns. If you would like to join the CSOG network and receive mailings etc., please send us you postal and e-mail details.
A document sketching some of our thinking can be downloaded here
We can be contacted at CSOG@econ.cam.ac.uk