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Problems of defining such terms as ‘society’, ‘the social’, and ‘the social system’ remain an ongoing bane of social theory in general and sociology more specifically. This article is located in the context of recent debates that ‘society’ as an empirical reality and ‘society’ as a concept is in crisis. We begin by briefly reviewing sociological understandings of ‘society’ and noting the ‘death of society’ thesis in recent social theory. In an attempt to extend this debate beyond naïve proclamations of the ‘end of society’, we argue – in an exploratory and provisional manner – that the bulk of sociological discourses on the ‘social’ can be located within one of the following categories or registers: (1) society as structure; (2) society as solidarity; and (3) society as creation. These three registers of the social are briefly sketched in the remainder of the article. This argument arises from a larger ‘work in progress’ on the logics of the social.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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