Sociology that We Like

29 May 2009 at 11:16 am 6 comments

| Nicolai Foss |

Contrary to the conviction perhaps held by the boys over at, O&M bloggers are not at all hostile to sociology. In fact, we are highly sympathetic to what is sometimes called “analytical sociological theory,” that is, James Coleman, Raymond Boudon, Jon Elster, Peter Abell, Diego Gambetta, Siegwart Lindenberg, Karl-Dieter Opp, and so on. Here is a nice summary of AST, which — we are told — embraces realism and objectivity, is anti-relativist, appreciates formalization and the use of models, is reductionist, eschews bullshit, etc. (Also check out the nice and entirely well taken acerbic treatment of Foucault on p. 7). Now we only need to know: How exactly does AST differ from microeconomics?

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Myths and Realities.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peter Klein  |  29 May 2009 at 11:49 am

    I also like Max Weber, and have a soft spot in my heart for Robert Nisbet. . . .

  • 2. Dan Hirschman  |  29 May 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I love Schelling, Hacking and some of the other authors mentioned as much as I like almost any scholar, but I have to quibble with your description of the treament of Foucault as “nice”, as in good. Noguera argues that Foucault and Weber were talking about “the same concept”, power. But they weren’t. That’s why they define them differently. Foucault is pointing to the subtle and unsubtle ways that our actions affect the actions of others because of the ways we are all tied together. It’s much more like a generalized game theory understanding than Weber’s more brute force, A beats B approach. Foucault is arguing that when we focus only on overt conflict, the A gets what he wants over B approach, we miss all of the subtle ways our actions affect each other. Stephen Lukes deals with these issues well in his various works (e.g. Power: A Radical View, and his collection of short essays).

    To reiterate, Foucault is not talking about the same thing as Weber. You can still argue that Foucault is being unnecessarily opaque, but Noguera’s “critique” just shows that he doesn’t understand that words and things always have a messy relationship, and one that refuses to stay fixed. I know what would do just the trick: re-reading Foucault!

  • 3. Shawn Ritenour  |  29 May 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Let us also not forget that not only is Mises’ SOCIALISM the greatest work devoted to the economics of socialism, it is also an outstanding treatment of the sociology of socialism. As with good economics, the key to doing good sociology is in taking into account the fact of human action and all that it implies.

  • 4. Paolo MARITI  |  30 May 2009 at 2:37 am

    …and what about Vilfredo Pareto (1848–1923), Italian sociologist, economist and philosopher?

  • 5. Josh  |  30 May 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Great link! Now I know I’m not alone when reading Foucault, Wacquant, and that type.

  • 6. Rafe  |  15 October 2009 at 7:03 pm

    A cautionary tale, the long march of Jeffrey C Alexander, the most ambitious sociologist on the planet, from reconstructing Parsons to the strong program in cultural theory, a witches brew of every strand of social thought sans Critical Rationalism and Austrian social theory.

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