This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It draws together a team of outstanding international scholars, and presents an authoritative and panoramic critical survey of the field. The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines the classical tradition. Included here are critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. This part conveys the classical tradition as a living resource in social theory, it demonstrates not only the critical significance of classical writings, but their continuing relevance. The second part moves on t

The Macro/Micro Problem and the Problem of Structure and Agency

The macro/micro problem and the problem of structure and agency

The General Form of the Macro/Micro Problem

All fields of empirical enquiry face a macro/micro problem in some form. Typically, such a field will concern itself with the study of things or processes of some particular kind, and their complexity and variability will lead to the thought that they are composite, and to conjectures about the nature and properties of their components. Or else it may be obvious from the start that this is the case, that the organisms being dissected, or the chemical substances being experimented on, or the nebulae being photographed, or the communities being studied, are made of smaller things.1 Similarly, although in practice ...

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