Social figures are an independent element of sociological research – that is the initial thesis of the authors. Sociological diagnoses of present-day life often place the focus of their analysis on emblematic figures because they embody essential characteristics of contemporary society. To give a more precise outline of the sociological meaning of social figures, the concept is placed in the context of related categories of sociology – ideal types, social role, social character, and social figuration.
Based on a comparative analysis of these categories, the features of social-figurative representations are identified. The authors demonstrate what social figures do in the context of sociological studies, how they generate evidence, how they can be used in an explorative manner in empirical research settings, and also what the limits of their analytical potential are.
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