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Analytical Sociology and Social Mechanisms


Pierre Demeulenaere, Raymond Boudon, Jon Elster, Dan Sperber, Keith Sawyer, Thomas J. Fararo, Peter Abell, Michael Schmid, Petri Ylikoski, Yvonne Åberg, Peter Hedström, Robert J. Sampson, Michael W. Macy, Damon Centola, Andreas Flache, Arnout van de Rijt, Robb Willer, Gianluca Manzo
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  • Date Published: March 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521190473

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About the Authors
  • Mechanisms are very much a part of social life. For example, we can see that inequality has tended to increase over time, and that cities can become segregated. But how do such mechanisms work? Analytical sociology is an influential approach to sociology which holds that explanations of social phenomena should focus on the social mechanisms that bring them about. This book evaluates the major features of this approach, focusing on the significance of the notion of mechanism. Leading scholars seek to answer a number of questions in order to explore all the relevant dimensions of mechanism-based explanations in social sciences. How do social mechanisms link together individual actions and social environments? What is the role of multi-agent modelling in the conceptualization of mechanisms? Does the notion of mechanism solve the problem of relevance in social sciences explanations?

    • Defines the concept of sociological mechanism and offers new insights and examples to analytical sociology, a leading approach to the subject
    • Leading sociologists explore the relationship between mechanisms, causality and modeling
    • Uses examples and systematic discussion of previous approaches to explore the ways sociological explanations develop
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Demeulenaere`s volume is the most important contribution in the discussion on social mechanisms and merits the attention of all social scientists working on the subject.' C. Mantzavinos, Professor of Philosophy of the Social Sciences, University of Athens

    'This volume of essays elegantly demonstrates that analytical sociology is - simply - good sociology.' Peter Bearman, Cole Professor of the Social Sciences, Columbia University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521190473
    • length: 330 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • contains: 23 b/w illus. 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Pierre Demeulenaere
    Part I. Action and Mechanisms:
    1. Ordinary rationality: the core of analytical sociology Raymond Boudon
    2. Indeterminacy of emotional mechanisms Jon Elster
    3. A naturalistic ontology for mechanistic explanations in the social sciences Dan Sperber
    4. Conversation as mechanism: emergence in creative groups Keith Sawyer
    Part II. Mechanisms and Causality:
    5. Generative process model building Thomas J. Fararo
    6. Singular mechanisms and Bayesian narratives Peter Abell
    7. The logic of mechanismic explanations in the social sciences Michael Schmid
    8. Social mechanisms and explanatory relevance Petri Ylikoski
    9. Causal regularities, action and explanation Pierre Demeulenaere
    Part III. Approaches to Mechanisms:
    10. Youth unemployment: a self-reinforcing process? Yvonne Åberg and Peter Hedström
    11. Neighborhood effects, causal mechanisms, and the social structure of the city Robert J. Sampson
    12. Social mechanisms and generative explanations: computational models with double agents Michael W. Macy with Damon Centola, Andreas Flache, Arnout van de Rijt and Robb Willer
    13. Relative deprivation in silico: agent-based models and causality in analytical sociology Gianluca Manzo.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Comparative and historical methdology
  • Editor

    Pierre Demeulenaere, Université de Paris IV
    Pierre Demeulenaere is Professor of Sociological Theory and Philosophy of the Social Sciences at the University of Paris-Sorbonne.


    Pierre Demeulenaere, Raymond Boudon, Jon Elster, Dan Sperber, Keith Sawyer, Thomas J. Fararo, Peter Abell, Michael Schmid, Petri Ylikoski, Yvonne Åberg, Peter Hedström, Robert J. Sampson, Michael W. Macy, Damon Centola, Andreas Flache, Arnout van de Rijt, Robb Willer, Gianluca Manzo

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