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Social Ontology Research Unit

The Social Ontology Research Unit was formed to pursue collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects, seminars, conferences, summer schools and other activities concerned with social ontology—the systematic study of the nature and basic structure of social reality.

The Unit has long established links with the Cambridge Social Ontology Group with whom it often engages in joint projects. The current central focus of the Unit is the development and elaboration, in collaboration with the Cambridge Social Ontology Group, of a conception of social ontology most appropriately referred to as the theory of social positioning.

Social researchers—including those engaged in theoretical and applied investigations as well as those interested in policy and/or advancing programmes aimed at progressive social change—all have much to gain from a better understanding of the nature and constitution of the social realm.

Ontology includes the study of features common to all phenomena of any domain of reality as well as the study of specific phenomena of a domain. Thus, social ontology is, in part, concerned with investigating the manner in which social phenomena depend necessarily on human interactions.

Research in social ontology undertaken by members of the unit advances, defends and explores the implications of the view that social reality is an emergent realm that is everywhere open, structured, processual and relational. It is in exploring the relational nature of the social realm that the theory of social positioning has become the central focus for members of the Unit.

Social ontology is also concerned with the nature of such existents as money, gender, technology, the corporation, community, institutions, norms, rules, custom, identity and so forth. Members of the Unit have also been interested to explore how the theory of social positioning can enhance our understanding of various of these social existents.

The Social Ontology Research Unit is a part of the Public Services Management and Organisation Research Group at King's Business School. 

The Social Ontology Research Unit will be hosting an online workshop, Advances in Social Positioning Theory on 23 May 2022. 

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigators