methodological individualism

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methodological individualism

theoretical positions holding that adequate sociological accounts necessarily involve reference to persons, their interpretations of their circumstances, and the reasons and motives for the actions they take. WEBER and POPPER both propose specifications by which all social categories, like ‘capitalism’ or ‘the state’, can be explicated by reference to real or abstract (‘idealized’) individuals or persons. In its more strident forms, methodological individualism proposes that all sociological explanations must begin and end with reference to individuals. To this, the standard objection is that individuals usually owe many of their defining features, e.g. of psychological disposition, to their cultures and their structural contexts, so the proposed termination is sociologically banal.

For a discussion of the issues see Lukes (1977). See also SITUATIONAL LOGIC AND SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS, HOLISM, STRATEGIC INTERACTION. Compare STRUCTURALISM, STRUCTURE AND AGENCY.

References in periodicals archive ?
The idea of behavior as random mutation, however, seems to conflict with the methodological individualist principle that social phenomena should be explained in terms of purposeful behavior.
Hayek calls evolution and spontaneous order "twin ideas," but this is a mistake according to Hodgson because evolution is always phylogenetic: that Hayek thinks that evolution and spontaneous order are the same might be due to the fact that his earlier methodological individualist ontogenism contaminated his later views on cultural evolution.
One would expect that the individual is the relevant unit in a methodological individualist explanation.
This assumption is important, as firms or other organizations are not "actors" within Bouillon's methodological individualist ethics.
On the conceptual level, defenses of a methodological individualist position in power analysis have recently been proposed by the author Keith Dowding, among others, and also from a more heterodox position like that of Peter Morriss.
Ringen identifies himself as a methodological individualist because he sees democracy as a tool to achieve individual freedom as he understands it.
I return now to the question of subjectivism in Prices and Production, in the context of considering Caldwell's most surprising thesis: Hayek was not a consistent methodological individualist.
Caldwell tells us what would convince him that Hayek was a methodological individualist in Prices and Production.
Hawkes bases his argument on the idea that Darwin, like Smith, was a reductionist and a methodological individualist, while Gould, like Marx, was a system-level thinker.
Varshney vacillates between a standard methodological individualist approach, which finds collectives problematic, and an assumption that there really is a rural community facing cross-cutting cleavages from other collective identifications of the sort analyzed in the Basu and Kohli book.
Choi, it should be noted, is an avowed methodological individualist for whom the entrepreneur has a very real role to play.
Yet, the book does exhibit another Weede hallmark which would be applauded by Harry Eckstein: Beginning with well-known methodological individualist assumptions, Weede presses his argument for all it is worth and gives no quarter.