Analytical sociology is a strategy for understanding the social world. It is concerned with explaining important social facts such as network structures, patterns of residential segregation, typical beliefs, cultural tastes, and common ways of acting. It explains such facts by detailing in clear and precise ways the mechanisms through which the social facts were brought about. Making sense of the relationship between micro and macro thus is one of the central concerns of analytical sociology. The approach is a contemporary incarnation of Robert K. Merton's notion of middle-range theory and presents a vision of sociological theory as a tool-box of semi-general theories each of which is adequate for explaining certain types of phenomena. The Handbook brings together some of the most prominent sociologists in the world. Some of the chapters focus on action and interaction as the cogs and wheels of social processes, while others consider the dynamic social processes that these actions and interactions bring about.
Peter Hedstroem is a Professor of Sociology, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University, and Official Fellow of Nuffield College at Oxford University. His area of specialization is analytical sociology. He has a special interest in the analysis of complex social networks, particularly analyses seeking to explain how the structure of the networks in which individuals are embedded influence the collective outcomes the individuals bring about. Peter Bearman is Director of the Lazarsfeld Center for the Social Sciences, the Cole Professor of Social Science, and Co-Director of the Health & Society Scholars Program. A recipient of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2007, Bearman is currently investigating the social determinants of the autism epidemic. Current projects also include an ethnographic study of the funeral industry and, with support from the American Legacy Foundation, an investigation of the social and economic consequences of tobacco control policy.
FOUNDATIONS; SOCIAL COGS AND WHEELS; SOCIAL DYNAMICS; PERSPECTIVES FROM OTHER FIELDS AND APPROACHES