Analyse & Kritik
Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory
Ed. by Baurmann, Michael / Leist, Anton / Tranow, Ulf
Social Mechanisms as Special Cases of Explanatory Sociology: Notes toward Systemizing and Expanding Mechanism-based Explanation within Sociology
The revival of action based explanations as well as their formal structuring have been two of the most important topics within explanatory sociology since the 1980s. The two newly developed approaches, being structural individualism and analytical sociology based on mechanism models, will be outlined in this article. The article is dedicated to a comparison of the aims and the formal structure of both approaches. It is shown that explanations within analytical sociology tend to be more realistic but also more complex. They do not differentiate between micro and macro levels in analytical terms and use micro mechanisms instead of an analytically strong action theory that makes it difficult to systemize mechanism models. On the other hand, structural individualistic explanations that use a general action law from which social interdependencies are to be interpreted as an opportunity structure can formulate a default-option from which models can be expanded and also worked out to mechanism types.