Methodological Individualism

In social science, methodological individualism is as popular as in the construction of A-level (highschool) textbooks in the UK: “sociology should be about examining the biography of individuals in the context of the history of societies” (Haralambos&Holborn (1980) 7th ed. 2008:17). The doctrine is a methodological percept for at least followers of Max Weber and the Austrian School (Heath 2005). However, the term “individualism” may have been misleading. Although the methodology emphasizes the role of individual in the explanantia[1], it also requires the importance of social structures in the process of understanding (Hodgson 2007). That is the point which distinguishes methodological individualism from atomism, or “unqualified individualism”, where the commitment to any particular claim about the content of the intentional states that motivate individuals leads to a reduction of sociology to psychology (Heath 2003). The individual approach is useful in such contemporary studies of neighbouring concepts of nationality like ethnicity, where Fredrik Barth’s followers withraw from the study of cultural contents (common language, lifestyle, descent, religion, phisical markers, history, eating habits…) for the use of the outside-in view of social interaction, which makes the difference possible, visible and socially meaningful (Malesevic 2004:2). Action[2] is the ground that researchers can interprete and subjectively (or intersubjectively) understand the phenomena.



[1] Latin term used by Hodgson (2007): “an explanans (plural explanantia) is an element that purpostedly helps to explain something else, the explanandum (pl. explananda).

[2] is defined (initially by Weber) as the subset of human behaviour that is motivated by linguistically formulated or “meaningful” mental states (Heath 2005).

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One Response to “Methodological Individualism”

  1. Chaien Says:

    Dịch 1 đoạn rồi nhưng biến mất tiêu, thôi cho lên đây ai muốn đóng góp cho nền tri thức nước nhà thì dịch sang tiếng Việt vậy.

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