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Paper info: Interactional Fields: Social Kinds in Processes of Development and Change


Interactional Fields: Social Kinds in Processes of Development and Change


Gary Buttriss
Australian National University
Gary Buttriss and
Ian Wilkinson
University of Sydney
Ian Wilkinson

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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IMP interest in interaction stems form an underlying interest in how things happen. This represents a move from a classical perspective focusing on discrete exchange to the links, actions, and bonds the actions, processes and location of change and development in interconnected relationships and business networks or markets. This requires a processual or relational approach to understanding in contrast to a substantialist or variables-based approach. The paper suggests that one way of advancing our understanding of interaction is to consider the site of interaction. That is the interactional field where actors act and interact with other actors and entities as well as the broader environment; where resources are exchanged, imported or exported; where change is instigated and transferred across time and space. We suggest an interactional field is the site of plasticity where change actually takes place. To understand the causal structure, the common traits of the actors and entities that interact and processes taking place in the interactional field we draw on the concept of natural and social kinds. We discuss how interactional fields are located in time and space, which influence and are influenced by the trajectories of change and development.
Keywords: interaction, change process, mechanism, social kinds