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On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology: A Critique of Microsociological Reductionism

Stephan Fuchs
Sociological Perspectives
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer, 1989), pp. 169-182
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/1389095
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1389095
Page Count: 14
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On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology: A Critique of Microsociological Reductionism
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Abstract

Recent microsociological reductionisms claim that societal and organizational macrostructures can be "reduced to," "explained in terms of" or "translated into" the dynamics of elementary interaction systems. Two critical lines of argumentation challenge this claim. First, neofunctionalist systems theory is drawn on to show that reductionist strategies fail to acknowledge the emergent differences between types of social systems and thus run into difficulties in the analysis of macrostructures. A model of boundary maintenance operations in interaction systems illustrates this point. Second, a more internal critique of the logic of reductionism suggests that microsociology does not provide the "foundations" for macrosociology but that micro- and macrosociology should peacefully coexist as equally legitimate ways to make sense of different aspects of social reality.

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