Reconceptualizing Eventful Sociology

Thomas Angeletti, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Marcin Serafin, IFiS PAN

In recent years, we have witnessed a growing interest in the category of event among various sociologists. Building on their work, this article proposes we reconceptualize Sewell’s original project of eventful sociology. We develop our argument in three steps. In the first step, we show that Sewell’s original statement had a clear definition of the event. His definition, however, has since then come under criticism from various authors and has been subsequently extended both by Sewell and by other sociologists. We show that currently there are different definitions of the event, which share only a family resemblance. In the second step, we propose anchoring eventful sociology in a minimal definition of the event as a difference in social life that makes a difference. The definition allows us to capture the family resemblance of many existing definitions of the event, without neglecting their differences. In the third step, we use the definition to introduce a parsimonious model of social life inhabited by four types of events: historical events, evanescent events, microcontingencies, and tests. This model, we argue, makes eventful sociology more eventful and allows us to bring together different eventful-inspired types of sociology, from French pragmatic sociology to micro-historical sociology. We theorize the properties of each type of event, pointing to some theoretical puzzles, concepts and empirical research related to them. We conclude by opening some future theoretical avenues in eventful sociology.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 131. Events and Crisis in Concept and Practice I