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 ?
Boettke lists ten of these misunderstandings, among them: that Hayek's reliance on methodological individualism meant humans are perfectly rational; that the price system is perfectly efficient; that he was categorically opposed to government action; that Hayek's resistance to formal modeling and statistical testing was based on old-fashioned methodological ideas that led to dogmatic stances rather than scientific progress; and that Hayek was roundly defeated by Keynes in macroeconomics and by Lange-Lerner with respect to market socialism.
George was close to the Austrians on many of these themes, including methodological individualism. "The methodological individualism of George and Menger stems from a realization that economists' 'inside' knowledge of human motives and decision-making is a leading source of basic empirical generalizations" (Yeager 1954a, 238).
Bylund offers a strong argument about the existence of firms by combining essential features of the Austrian School: methodological individualism, disequilibrium, uncertainty and heterogeneity of capital (Bylund, 2016, pp.
Methodological individualism is what separates Hayek's historical empiricism from the Hazony variety.
In Das Wesen und der Hauptinhalt der theoretischen Nationalokonomie (1908), Schumpeter developed and pioneered his methodological individualism which is acknowledged.
Many books, documentaries, articles and reports conclude that methodological individualism is the motivational and driving force among Muslims to join terrorist activities.
Moreover, Hobbes plays a fundamental role in building up the concepts of both methodological individualism and methodological collectivism.
On the other hand, methodological individualism is the main instrument of researchers in studying the epistemology of social sciences today and represents a consequence of nominalism as intellectual attitude and method of research: the fact that in analysing social phenomena, only the individual who possesses his autonomous intentions and possibilities has explicative value.
Raymond Boudon, one of the most prominent French sociologists of the 1970s and 1980s, founded a "methodological individualism," rather distinct from the cultural phenomenon of individualization (Boudon & Bourricaud 1982).
The microfoundations project is inherently reductionist, for the simple reason that methodological individualism is a core element of mainstream economics in all its variants.
Austrian Economics, or more precisely the Austrian School of Economics, is unique in providing a theoretical framework which, although distinctly different from Walrasian general equilibrium, rests on methodological individualism and the assumption of rationality of economic agents, two pillars of neoclassical economics, and leads to policy conclusions that are located to the "right" of the mainstream in pleading for unfettered markets, free trade and minimal government.
The stakes of this reunion are that "they both offer rigorous and profound alternatives to the methodological individualism of liberalism.