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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This book deals with analytical sociology, an approach for understanding the social world. Analytical sociology explains important social facts such as network structures, patterns of residential segregation, typical beliefs, cultural tastes, and common ways of acting. It does so by detailing in clear and precise ways the mechanisms through which social facts are brought about. This introductory chapter discusses some of the fundamentals of analytical sociology, with particular emphasis on two interrelated aspects: the explanatory principles guiding the approach and the type of explanatory factors being evoked. It first describes what is meant by a ‘mechanism‘ and a ‘mechanism-based explanation’ before turning to structural individualism, a methodological doctrine according to which social facts should be explained as the intended or unintended outcomes of individuals’ actions. It also present various examples to make the abstract principles more concrete and concludes with a brief overview of the book’s organization.

Keywords: analytical sociology, social world, social facts, residential segregation, beliefs, mechanism, mechanism-based explanation, structural individualism

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