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Cambridge Social Ontology

Cambridge Social Ontology (CSO)                           

The Cambridge Social Ontology Group, or CSOG, was formed with the aim of pursuing social ontology, the systematic study of the nature and basic structure of social reality. The primary motivation is a shared belief that social research and indeed all aspects of human activity have much to gain from a better understanding of the nature of material we all have to deal with.

The group distinguishes between philosophical ontology, the study of features common to all phenomena of any domain of reality, and scientific ontology, interpreted as the study of specific phenomena of a domain.

Thus for the social realm, philosophical ontology is concerned with investigating the manner in which social phenomena depend necessarily on human interactions; and its results, or at least those currently accepted by most CSOG participants, include the assessments that social reality is an emergent realm that is everywhere open, structured, processual and highly internally related.

Scientific ontology oriented to the social domain is concerned with the nature of such existents as money, gender, markets, technology, social relations, the corporation, care, regions, community, power, authority, trust, cooperation, testimony, institutions, norms, rules, custom, convention, collective practice, profit, output, income, wealth, identity, individual, social evolution, development, human flourishing, probability, society, economy, and so forth.   

The sort of conception that is central to much of our thinking is discussed in the document A Conception of Social Ontology; in an interview on Cambridge Social Ontology in the Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics; and in Edward Fullbrook’s Ontology and Economics.  

CSOG pursues collaborative (interdisciplinary) research projects, conferences, summer schools, workshops, reading groups and other activities concerned with social ontology. Although the group is based in Cambridge, network members of CSOG are internationally spread. We are keen to link up with others, whatever their disciplinary or other backgrounds, who share similar concerns. If you would like to join the CSO network and receive mailings etc., please subscribe to our mailing list via the link above or contact us directly at

For generous funding of many of our numerous activities, as well as intellectual support, we are grateful to the Cambridge Political Economy Society, the  Cambridge Journal of Economics and to the Independent Social Research Foundation.

News from CSOG

New Book: Cambridge Social Ontology: An Introduction to Social Positioning Theory

by Yannick Slade-Caffarel, 2024