A Theory of Social Ontology: Explaining the Emergence of Society, Culture, and Economy

By Thomas Brian Whalen.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper proposes that society, culture, and the economy can be understood by taking a transdisciplinary approach to social ontology. Using the framework of the complex adaptive systems model, it proposes that culture is emergent from social and environmental interaction. Embedded in each transaction is an element of interpretation, evaluation, and negotiation. With each transaction, there is a continual reinterpretation, renegotiation, and reevaluation, however small or large, of social structure. Even if the result is no change, reinterpretation, renegotiation, and reevaluation takes place. Thus, there is a continual emergence of social constructions, culture, economy, and social structure.
This theory of cultural ontology, and as a byproduct the ontology of society, the economy, and other social institutions and structures, is grounded in several diverse disciplines. By combining the work of theorists from several different disciplines, a new perspective on social ontology can be developed. These disciplines include complexity science, Mead’s social theory, Dewey and Bentley’s transactional strategy, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Strauss’ negotiated order theory, Bruner’s folk psychology, Giddens structuration theory, and Ricoeur’s interpretation theory.

Keywords: Social Ontology, Transaction, Negotiation, Emergence, Cultural Ontology

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.21-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 239.344KB).

Dr. Thomas Brian Whalen

Assistant Professor of Business, Social Sciences Division, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas, USA

Dr. Thomas Brian Whalen is presently an assistant professor of business at McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas. He recently received a Ph.D. in leadership studies from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He also holds a M.S. in management from Troy University in Alabama and a B.S. in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. Tom’s academic interests include culture studies, leadership studies, and business.