Connecting the Social Brain to the Social World
Social relationships are the central focus of sociological explanation; since Durkheim, sociologists have applied this focus to understanding mental health and illness. The resulting body of scholarship has elucidated the value of social support, the relevance of social networks, and the importance of neighborhood and social context, but it has not yet been informed by recent advances in psychological and psychiatric research on social cognition and social neuroscience. As a result, the potential contributions of sociology to explaining social processes in mental illness are diminished and the growth of sociological knowledge is impaired. This lack of cross-disciplinary engagement is a symptom of the divergence of social and psychiatric perspectives in the last three decades, but it is also a clear marker of the potential for their reconnection. The goals of this seminar are to review recent research on social cognition and social neuroscience, to identify the most fruitful points of cross-disciplinary intersection, and to nurture interdisciplinary collaborations among key scholars in the relevant disciplines.