Sociology of Infinitesimal Difference. Gabriel Tarde’s Heritage

  • Sergio Tonkonoff


The starting point of Tarde’s sociology is individuals. That does not make it a methodological individualism. Instead, it is a sociology of infinitesimal difference which finds in individuals an adequate reference for addressing social life, and that ends up by turning problematic the notion of both individual and society. Imitation is here an elemental form of social relation, but it is not the only one: opposition and invention are elemental social relations as well. Social life is made up of these relations—moving and differential relations that can, however, organize, or better yet integrate, both logically and teleologically, without being totalized by this integration. By relying on pluralistic ontological and epistemological positions which privilege difference over identity, time over space, the infinite over the finite, this sociology shows itself as off-center regarding former and current holisms and individualisms. Re-reading it as an infinitesimal sociology of flows and ensembles can open a way to go beyond the oppositions between individual and society, and between micro and macro approaches.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Tonkonoff
    • 1
  1. 1.National Scientific and Technical Research CouncilBuenos AiresArgentina

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