Ordet for samfund er gentagelse

  • Lars Held


The word for society is repetition. The notion of ’the social’ as a distinct reality in its own right is a central concept in sociology. In one of the earliest methodological disputes within the science of sociology, Emile Durkheim and Gabriel Tarde put forward two radically different perspectives bout how to conceptualize this reality as an object of scientific investigation. The debate between Durkheim and Tarde has primarily been perceived as a confrontation between a ’holistic’ and an ’individualistic’ sociological perspective – an account which doesn’t do justice to Tarde’s original, but today almost forgotten, sociology of imitations. This article attempts to develop a different perspective on this dispute. The concept of repetition is taken as the starting point for the discussion, and the article argues that both Durkheim and Tarde, although with very different conclusions, invoke a concept of repetition in their attempt to construct ’the social’ as an object of science.