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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods

Michael S. Lewis-Beck & Alan Bryman & Tim Futing Liao

Pub. date: 2004 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412950589

Print ISBN: 9780761923633 | Online ISBN: 9781412950589

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Encyclopedia Entry

Methodological Holism

Malcolm Williams

The opposite of methodological individualism, this doctrine holds that social wholes are more than the sum of individual attitudes, beliefs, and actions and that the whole can often determine the characteristics of individuals. Holism has been prominent in philosophy and social science since Hegel, and, arguably, it has its roots in the writings of Plato. Methodological holism (often abbreviated to holism ) takes a number of forms across social science disciplines. Although very different in their views and emphases, Marx, Dewey, Durkheim, and Parsons can all be regarded as holists. The quintessential holist thinker was the sociologist Emile Durkheim (1896/1952), who argued that social effects must be explained by social causes and that psychological explanations ...

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