Tapdyg Kerimov 1
  • 1 Ural Federal University, Mira str., 19, Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation 620002

The “Ontological Turn” in the Social Sciences: The Return of Epistemology

2022, vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 109–130 [issue contents]
In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in ontological research in the social sciences, the content and direction of which are described as an “ontological turn”. These studies set the formation of a new social ontology as their main goal. The article reveals the basic principles and content of this new social ontology, identifies controversial issues inherent in such a method of its renewal, and formulates guidelines for the return of epistemology to overcome the undesirable consequences of the “ontological turn”. Criticism of the «ontological turn» and the rationale for the return of epistemology are argued as follows; in the first section of the article, two possibilities of constructing a social ontology are considered, those of the essentialist ontology of mainstream sociology and the “flat ontology” of assemblage. The second section provides a critical analysis of three consequences of the “ontological turn”: the problematization of the idea of the autonomous social; the neutralization of the a priori ontological reasoning of social research; and the denial of the real outside beyond the assemblage. In the third section, the consequences of the “ontological turn” are considered in the context of the current discussion about the role of ontology in the social sciences, which is expressed through the opposition of a priori ontological and instrumental-pragmatic justification of social research. To overcome such consequences, the following guidelines for the return of epistemology are formulated: the “underdetermination” of reality by theories; the epistemological difference between the conceptual reality of an object and its ontological reality; and the equality (covariation) of ontology and epistemology.
Citation: Kerimov T. (2022) «Ontologicheskiy povorot» v sotsial'nykh naukakh: vozvrashchenie epistemologii [The “Ontological Turn” in the Social Sciences: The Return of Epistemology]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 21, no 1, pp. 109-130 (in Russian)
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