The Discursive Ontology of the Social World

  • Luk Van LangenhoveEmail author
Part of the Theory and History in the Human and Social Sciences book series (THHSS)


Rom Harré’s seminal work in the social sciences is both of an epistemological and an ontological nature. At the epistemological level, Harré has advocated a new theoretical and research approach to social psychology for which he coined in the seventies the neologism ‘ ethogenics ’ (Harré 1977). In ethogenics a new research approach was proposed, based upon a critique of conventional-positivist dominated-research approaches (Harré and Secord 1972) that has been further developed throughout his many writings on psychology and social sciences. At the ontological level, Harré has developed both a realist and social constructionist perspective on the study of social and natural phenomena. This chapter aims to bring together some of the basic elements of how Harré looks at the social universe (his ontological claims) and add some new elements to it as developed by Van Langenhove (20062011, 2017, 2019a, b) (Across these publications the reader will find more details about the social ontology which can here only be presented in a very schematic way). This outline of a coherent Harré-inspired ontology of the social realm aims to sharpen our look on the social world and contribute to the rationale for why it is crucial to put discourse analysis and narratological research at the heart of any attempt to understand social phenomena.


Social sciences Epistemology Ontology Ethogenics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vrije Universteit BrusselBrusselBelgium

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