residues and derivations

Residues and derivationsclick for a larger image
Fig. 26 Residues and derivations. As formulated by Pareto, the main causal origins of social action are located in the underlying psychological bases of this action. These bases explain both the action involved and the theories of this action advanced by social actors. Thus, these theories are seen by Pareto as ‘derivations’from the underlying psychological bases. ‘Residues’are the universal elements in social action left over once the more ephemeral derivations have been abstracted. For Pareto, they are the true basis of sociological explanations on which scientific sociological theory should be based. In comparison w/ith the influence exerted by residues on derivations and on actions, the causal influence of derivations on action, or vice versa, is much more limited.

residues and derivations

a distinction drawn by PARETO, as part of his discussion of’nonlogical’ (or irrational) forms of action, in which residues are the uniform psychological bases underlying social action, and derivations the rationalizations or ‘theories’ which are advanced by social participants as justifications of their social actions. As Pareto saw it, many sociological theories are themselves derivations. He regarded his own theories, in replacing these, as establishing sociology on a new scientific footing (see Fig. 26).

Six main categories of residues were identified by Pareto, but only two of these: the instinct for combinations (‘class I residues’) and the persistence of aggregates (‘class II residues’), are critical to an understanding of his approach. These play a central part in his theory of élites (see CIRCULATION OF ÉLITES).