The Causal Power of Social Structures Emergence, Structure and Agency

by Dave (Loughborough University) Elder-Vass

The Causal Power of Social Structures Emergence, Structure and Agency Synopsis

The problem of structure and agency has been the subject of intense debate in the social sciences for over 100 years. This book offers a solution. Using a critical realist version of the theory of emergence, Dave Elder-Vass argues that, instead of ascribing causal significance to an abstract notion of social structure or a monolithic concept of society, we must recognise that it is specific groups of people that have social structural power. Some of these groups are entities with emergent causal powers, distinct from those of human individuals. Yet these powers also depend on the contributions of human individuals, and this book examines the mechanisms through which interactions between human individuals generate the causal powers of some types of social structures. The Causal Power of Social Structures makes particularly important contributions to the theory of human agency and to our understanding of normative institutions.

The Causal Power of Social Structures Emergence, Structure and Agency Press Reviews

Review of the hardback: 'Dave Elder-Vass has written a book of exceptional clarity in defence of realist ontology with an unusual generosity of examples. His 'relational theory of emergence' is so restrained that philosophical opponents will find it hard to rebutt; whether his notion of 'relationality' is sufficiently rich may provoke more debate amongst sociologists.' Margaret S. Archer, University of Warwick 'The Causal Power of Social Structures is a well-written and conceptually clear analysis of the central question of critical realism and a realist approach. Elder-Vass presents many concrete examples from daily life, which help to explain the abstract theoretical consideration in a more concrete way ... His book clearly shows the meaning of detailed ontological analysis for social theory and the social sciences.' Pekka Kuusela, Organization Studies 'Dave Elder-Vass has written a very useful book ... the single most valuable feature ... is that it begins with all three of the assumptions in place that are necessary for clear-cut debate regarding whether or not social structures can do things ...' Ruth Porter Groff, Metascience

Book Information

ISBN: 9780521194457
Publication date: 17th June 2010
Author: Dave (Loughborough University) Elder-Vass
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 234 pages
Categories: Social theory,

About Dave (Loughborough University) Elder-Vass

Dave Elder-Vass is a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at the University of Essex. His primary research interests are in sociological theory, particularly the questions of structure and agency, the relationship between realism and social construction, and the analysis and critique of social and political power.

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