Social properties: Persistence, change, and stochastic social processes

How can we explain social change and social persistence?Society is a complex, compositional entity. Both persistence and change require explanation in such entities. Because there is a third alternative condition of such an entity: chaos, randomness, and Brownian motion of individuals in interaction with each other. Succinctly -- the current state of the ensemble is …

Is it an interesting sociological fact that "urban people are better educated than rural people"?

Let's suppose that this statement about urban-rural differences in educational levels summarizes census data by calculating the average number of years of formal schooling for people in cities and people in rural areas. Is this brute fact about two large populations a valid description of the two populations? Is it an important or illuminating sociological …

What is a social structure?

Are there such things as "social structures"? In what do they consist? What sorts of social powers do they exercise?   Consider a few candidates: the global trading system, the Federal government, the Chinese peasantry of the 1930s, the English class system, the Indian marriage system, race in the United States, the city of Chicago. …

How does rational choice theory relate to social facts and individual psychology?

Rational choice theory is a mid-level theory of human agency, intended to capture core features of human decision-making in order to provide a basis for abstract and generalized theories of the dynamics of various areas of social behavior. The disciplines of political science and economics make particularly extensive use of versions of rational choice theory …

Why are tastes and aversions beyond rational control?

Rational choice theory is a powerful foundation for thinking about social behavior (at least in its moderate versions). People have beliefs and goals; they survey the environment of choice and they arrive at actions that are intelligently related to the achievement of their goals.However, as an exclusive, abstract description of human behavior, rational choice theory …

Are social facts reducible to something?

What is the relationship between facts about society and facts about individuals? Reducibility means that the statements of one scientific discipline should be logically deducible from the truths of some other "more fundamental" discipline. It is sometimes maintained that the truths of chemistry ought in principle be derivable from those of quantum mechanics. A field …

Are there historical structures?

The French Revolution began in 1789. It was caused by conflict between the aristocracy and the monarchy. Eventually it developed into violent conflict in every region of France. It created more lasting change in French society than did the Russian Revolution. These statements purport to refer to an extended but unified historical thing, the French …

The heterogeneous social: institutions

Populations and groups are inherently diverse; virtually any property that might be attached to an individual shows variance across the group. So we have to pay special attention to specifying what we mean when we ask for a "measurement" of a property of a group. This is the basic ontological fact that undergirds a critical …

The heterogeneous social: groups

A social whole -- the city of Chicago, for example -- is a densely various empirical reality. At virtually every level of scale there is variance with respect to social characteristics -- income, health status, ethnic or social identity, political adherence and preference, age, race, or occupation. Neighborhoods differ from each other -- but equally, …

Social knowledge: measurement of properties in diverse groups

When we gain knowledge about silver, DNA, or cholera, we can study virtually any samples of the item and arrive at a description of its properties and causal powers, and this description will correspond accurately to other instances as well. We learn about the type by learning about the individuals, and we don't have to …

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