Microsociology [chapter]

Rainer Schützeichel
2021 Soziologie - Sociology in the German-Speaking World  
The article deals with the foundations, history,a nd developments of microsociological research in German-languagesociology. After discussingthe complex differentiation between micro and macro, it presents research that currentlyd ominates this field with the aim of highlighting the distinct profile of contemporary German-languagemicrosociology. This specific profile can be seen in its pursuit of a relationist theory program. Across the various subjecta reas of microsociological research,
more » ... cal research, traditional individualistic and collectivist paradigms are giving wayt or esearch that revolves around relationala nalyses,s uch as situation analyses,a nd enactivist theory programs. The designation "microsociology" is ambiguous. In the context of the rise of the distinction between "micro" and "macro"¹ in the 1970s, this label was applied to a diverse arrayo fi nterrelated topical, theoretical, and methodological questions and problems.( 1) In the field of sociology, the expression "micro" denotes areas of investigation that in their social dimension or in their spatial or temporalextension are either (a) related to the context of action and experience of single individuals and actors,thatis, deal with processes of socialization (as asocial practice of interaction à la Grundmann, 2006), of identity formation, biographies and careers,or(b) analyze the social context of asmall number of action units such as face-to-face interactions, groups,f amilies, or personal relationships.M icrosociological interaction and sequence analyses are thus distinguished from more highlya ggregative units such as mesophenomena and societal macrophenomena. (2)Thisobject-oriented designation is then transferred to the level of theoretical research programs and reserved for approaches with corresponding priorities. Such an application is currentlyf ound frequentlyi ni nternational sociology, in which the classicala pproaches of symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, and ethnomethodologya re gathered together as "varieties of microsociology" (Benzecry and Winchester,2 017, see alsoG ibson and vomL ehn, 2018) but with which such theoretical developments as Collins' microsociological approach are alsoclassed (1981). However,this familyoftheories sometimes adopts ar eserved attitude towardb eing classified as "microsociology" to the extent  This orientation towards the distinction between macroa nd micro is not unique to sociology.I n other areas of research in this period including economics,h istory,a sw ell the natural sciences, these categories took over the function of fundamentallys tructuring their disciplines. OpenAccess. ©2 021R ainer Schützeichel, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the CreativeC ommons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110627275-016  Just one recent example that can be cited hereisthe Handbook of ContemporarySociological Theory (Abrutyn, 2016), in which the duality of microand macroserves not onlyt oreformulateclassical sociological problems but also-followingapioneeringm odel (Alexander and Giesen, 1987)-to hunt for the "macro-micro links" in nearlya ll social phenomenaa nd fields.
doi:10.1515/9783110627275-016 fatcat:blvuwcljy5f67gh3ru2ypdy664