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Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory

Ed. by Baurmann, Michael / Leist, Anton / Tranow, Ulf

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Volume 38, Issue 1


Opening the Black Box. How the Study of Social Mechanisms Can Benefit from the Use of Explanatory Mixed Methods

Jörg Stolz
Published Online: 2016-05-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/auk-2016-0112


This article argues that analytical sociology an approach that attempts to study social mechanisms ‘without, black boxes’ can benefit from the use of explanatory mixed methods. Analytical sociologists mainly relate their theoretical and agent-based models to representative surveys and experiments. While their central claim is to find and test the actual mechanisms that have produced the explanandum. the mechanisms they postulate often remain speculative. Neither agent-based models, nor experiments or mainstream quantitative methods, give access to some of the central elements of the causal mechanisms and the relevant subjective and objective contextual parameters. One of the most important reasons for this lies in the fact that social reality is changing fast., characterized by strong diversity and complexified by the phenomenon of cultural meanings. I argue that by creating and testing the models of analytical sociology with explanatory mixed methods, researchers have the possibility of getting closer to their object of research and therefore of having the chance to create more valid explanations.

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Published Online: 2016-05-18

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Citation Information: Analyse & Kritik, Volume 38, Issue 1, Pages 257–286, ISSN (Online) 2365-9858, ISSN (Print) 0171-5860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/auk-2016-0112.

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© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

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