Mondani, Hernan & Richard Swedberg | 2021
Theory & Society
The main aim of this article is to start a discussion of social pattern, a term that is commonly used in sociology but not specified or defined. The key question can be phrased as follows: Is it possible to transform the notion of social pattern from its current status in sociology as a proto-concept into a fully worked out concept? And if so, how can this be done? To provide material for the discussion we begin by introducing a few different types of patterns that are currently being used (patterns in nature, cultural patterns, statistical patterns, and computationally generated patterns). This is followed by a suggestion for what a strictly sociological concept of social pattern may look like. A useful and theoretically solid concept of social pattern can in our view be constructed by basing it on Weber’s concept of social action. This means that both the behavior of the actors and the meaning these invest their behavior with must be taken into account. The article ends with a brief discussion of how to use the concept of social patterns in an effective way and what may endanger such a use.