Social rules as immanent and non-algorithmic imperatives

Speaker: Dr Ismael Al-Amoudi
Title: Social rules as immanent and non-algorithmic imperatives
Abstract: What kind of things are social rules? The paper starts from the critique of social rules articulated by ethnomethodologists and proposes an alternative conception of rules as situated, often tacit, imperatives. This ontological theorization borrows insights from critical realism and post-structuralism to explore general features of rules. For instance: they under-determine fields of legitimate actions, are prone to logical stratification, are anchored to desires and are inherently open to interpretation, though in a discursively structured way. Moreover, it is proposed that a rule is social if and only if it is internally related to a social relation. In turn, this helps to clarify and systematize how social rules relate to social positions and identities. The purpose of this ontological study is three-fold. Firstly, it attempts to articulate a realist conception of rules that avoids their dilution (as in the works of ethnomethodology) as well as their reification into codes or algorithms (as in the works of functionalist sociology). Secondly, it purports to initiate a dialogue with other authors writing on rules such as Giddens, Lawson and Searle. Finally, it aims to facilitate the development of empirical research on rules and related processes of legitimation, identification and subversion.

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