Dissecting the Social: On the Principles of Analytical Sociology

Over the past few decades serious reservations have been expressed about the explanatory power of sociological theory and research. In this important book, leading social theorist Peter Hedström outlines the foundations of an analytically oriented sociology that seeks to address this criticism. Building on his earlier influential contributions to contemporary debates, Professor Hedström argues for a systematic development of sociological theory so that it has the explanatory power and precision to inform sociological research and understanding. He discusses various mechanisms of action and interaction and shows how strong links can be forged between the micro and the macro, and between theory and empirical research. Combining new approaches to theory and methodology and using extensive examples to illustrate how they might be applied, this clear, concise and original book will appeal to a broad range of social scientists.

• Represents a new approach to the explanation of social phenomena • Discusses a range of issues of fundamental importance for the social sciences • Combines new approaches to theory and methodology and uses extensive examples to illustrate how to apply them


1. The analytical tradition in sociology; 2. Social mechanisms and explanatory theory; 3. Action and interaction; 4. Social interaction and social change; 5. On causal modelling; 6. Quantitative research, agent-based modelling, and theories of the social (with Yvonne Åberg); 7. Coda; References.


\'… an enjoyabole and important addition to the meagre library of serious philosophy of social science. It gives pleaseure to read because it is clearly conceived and elegantly written, and because - contrary to the philosophical tradition - it is chock full of examples of current research. And Hedström\'s book is important because it emphasizes the thesis that to explain facts of a type is to exhibit or hypothesize the mechanisms that bring them about … Dissecting the Social is an exceptionally good work in a field characterized by fuzziness, ideological bias or remoteness from live sociology. For these resons, I hope that [the book] will become compulsory reading in advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on social theory, sociological method, and the philosophy of social science.\' Mario Bunge, McGill University