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Welcome to the Professorship for Process-Oriented Sociology

What is Process-Oriented Sociology?

A process-oriented sociology understands the social as a multitude of proceeding events: Social life is unfolding in social practices and the perpetual movements of associations, dissociations and connections, from which networks of practices emerge, transform, (empirically) globalise or collapse. This processual stream forms from both simultaneous and consecutive activity. Therefore, an important characteristic of social events is the irreversibility of their dynamics, consisting of characteristic tempi and rhythms and following certain meaningful directions. Activities and proceedings of practices can only ex post be described and depicted in their characteristic trajectories – at the expense of ignoring their situative and eventful nature.

Process-oriented sociology takes a critical stance towards assumptions of substantial entities and fundamental distinctions. Sociological concepts, terms and categories are instead conceived in a relational and processual mode: They must adhere to social processuality and its continuous production, realisation and transformation of differences. Process-oriented sociology thus assumes a priority of becoming, of change and of difference. It strives toward a continuous and critical reassessment of existing sociological means of thought and analytical categories and it seeks to empirically unsettle theoretical models. Process-oriented sociology aims at a critique of knowledge: It methodises and cultivates the suspicion, that many problems of social science may reveal themselves as pseudo problems that originate from and are perpetuated by overly static, substantialistic and theoreticistic terms as well as from the „bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language“ (Wittgenstein).

„Looking through sociology textbooks one finds many technical terms which convey the impression of referring to isolated and motionless objects; yet on closer scrutiny they refer to people who are or were constantly moving and constantly relating to other people. Think of concepts like norm and value, structure and function, social class or social system. The very concept of society has this character of an isolated object in a state of rest, and so has that of nature. The same goes for the concept of the individual. Consequently we always feel impelled to make quite senseless conceptual distinctions, like ‚the individual and society‘, which makes it seem that ‚the individual‘ and ‚society‘ were two separate things (…).“ (Norbert Elias: What is Sociology? 1978.: 113)

Via criticising not only the dated, insufficient concepts and pre-scientific belief systems, but also the resulting false ways of posing problems, process-oriented sociology attempts to continually develop new means of language  and thinking. At the same time, it wishes to do justice to its fluctuating and alterable  empirical subjects. To accomplish this, on the one hand, the philosophical absolutism of eternal truths , which ignores  the processuality of the social has to be rejected. And on the other, the pitfalls of sociological relativism are to be evaded. Against both these false  alternatives, process-oriented sociology pursues an ongoing reflexive analysis of sociological knowledge and its relations to people's mundane sociological competences. Thus, the production of sociological knowledge is rendered processual and preliminary in principle.


 Location: Kapuzinerkloster 1. floor, rooms: 101 and 105

Postal Adress: 

Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Professur für Prozessorientierte Soziolgie
Ostenstraße 26
85072 Eichstätt


Mrs. Johanna Pfahler

Tel:   +49 8421 93 - 21501
Fax:  +49 8421 93 - 21798
Email: johanna.pfahler(at)