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Structuralism versus Individualism: Part 1, Shadowboxing in the Dark

Bruce H. Mayhew
Social Forces
Vol. 59, No. 2 (Dec., 1980), pp. 335-375
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2578025
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2578025
Page Count: 41
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Structuralism versus Individualism: Part 1, Shadowboxing in the Dark
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Abstract

American sociology has been dominated by an individualist, psychologistic perspective. This dominance has been so pervasive that American sociologists are generally unfamiliar with a sociological apprehension of social phenomena. That is, American sociologists are largely unfamiliar with the structuralist (sociological) view of social phenomena. The two approaches are so far apart and employ such different terminologies and definitions that they would be more accurately conceived as two entirely different fields of study. This essay attempts to draw out some of the differences between the structuralist and the individualist perspectives and to offer a criticism of the individualist position. The critical aspects of the essay are intended to clarify for individualist sociologists just why structuralists regard individualism not only as a dead end, but, indeed, not even as sociology.

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