The range of Relational Subjects
Examples of ‘social subjects’ can be organized in a framework based on the level, type, and degree of mediation of their relations. The degree of mediation runs from a minimum (face-to-face, direct relationships) to a maximum (hyper-mediated, indirect relations, as in social mass movements). We will distinguish between three levels; micro-, meso-, and macro, where the type of mediation varies with the specific qualities of the social relations in play. Of course, various other typologies are often used; the most simple differentiates four types of spheres: mediations in the life world sphere – in the family, kinship, friendship, acquaintances; mediations in the sphere of civil society – in voluntary associations and organizations; mediations in the economic market; and mediations in the political-administrative system and its apparatuses. The three criteria of level, type and degree are intercorrelated but are not identical and are mapped in Figure P.1.
Instances of Relational Subjects at the micro-, meso-, and macro-levels
At the micro-level: the couple and informal relations
The couple – as a stable relation between two partners – is a Relational Subject if and to the extent to which the two partners act with reference to their relation (to its structure, its needs, and its conditions), being oriented to it rather than considering the relation as a function of the Selves involved. The same holds for informal relations (kinship, neighbours, friendship, etc.).
Each partner is increasingly a Relational Subject the more his/her concerns and actions are ‘centered’ on the relation with the Other. The couple as such is a relational social subject if and to the extent to which their relation as partners emerges as a reality distinct from the two individual subjects and, in turn, influences each of them.