Why is it difficult to establish causality

Sociological Enlightenment 1 pp 9-30 | Cite as

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The functionalist method is seen in the social sciences as one research method among other things, as a special kind of concept formation and the setting of relationships. Some researchers devote themselves to it and achieve good results. Others reject functionalism, point to the ambiguity of its basic concept, accuse it of value implications or insensitivity to the problems of social change. Or one denies that the functionalist method differs from the usual techniques of causal explanation. The question of the empirical relevance and controllability of functionalist determinations, measured against the strict standards of causal scientific verification, is also open.

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  1. The Myth Functional Analysis as a Special Method in Sociology and Anthropology, in: American Sociological Review 24 (1959), pp. 757-772. Google Scholar
  2. So z. B. Leopold von Wiese / Howard Becker, Systematic Sociology, New York 1932, p. 111 ff .; Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 2nd Vol. New York-London 1944, p. 1056; Siegfried F. Nadel, The Foundations of Social Anthropology, Glencoe, Ill., 1951, pp. 369 f .; and especially French sociology, cf. Emile Durkheim, Les règles de la méthode sociologique, 8th edition Paris 1927, p. 110 ff .; Georges Gurvitch, La vocation actuelle de la sociologie, Paris 1950, p. 316 ff .; Henri Janne, Fonction et finalité en sociologie, in: Cahiers internationaux de sociologie 16 (1954), pp. 50-67 (56) .Google Scholar
  3. See. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, On the Concept of Function in Social Science, in: American Anthropologist 37 (1935), pp. 394-402; Talcott Parsons, Essays in Sociological Theory, Pure and Applied, Glencoe, Ill., 1949, p. 22 f., And: The Social System, Glencoe, Ill., 1951, p. 21 f .; Ernest Nagel, Logic Without Metaphysics, Glencoe, Ill., 1956, p. 247 ff .; Dorothy Emmet, Function, Purpose and Powers, London 1958, p. 46; Alvin W. Gouldner, Reciprocity and Autonomy in Functional Theory, in: Llewellyn Gross (Eds.), Symposium on Sociological Theory, Evanston, Ill., White Plains, N.Y., 1959, pp. 241-270; Harry M. Johnson, Sociology, New York 1960, pp. 48 ff. Google Scholar
  4. So too Harry C. Bredemeier, The Methodology of Functionalism, in: American Sociological Review 20 (1955) pp. 173-180. Google Scholar
  5. A.a.O .; cf. also: Teleological Explanation and Teleological Systems, in: Sidney Ratner (Eds.), Vision and Action, New Brunswick, N.J., 1953, pp. 192-222; The Structure of Science, New York 1961, pp. 520 ff. Google Scholar
  6. The Logic of Functional Analysis, in: Large (Ed.) Loc. Cit. Pp. 271-307. Google Scholar
  7. The classic reference for this is Malinowskiwho defined functional statements by relating them to a fixed system of “basic needs” of the human organism, which he assumed to be given. See The Group and the Individual in Functional Analysis, in: The American Journal of Sociology 44 (1939), pp. 938-964; A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays, Chapel Hill 1944, esp. Pp. 67 ff., 145 ff. But even today, needs are still spoken of in a highly formalized sense when functional reference points are meant.Google Scholar
  8. On the other hand, expressly Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, 2nd ed. Glencoe, Ill., 1957 p. 24 f .; Johnson, loc. cit. Pp. 63, 71 ff. Google Scholar
  9. An argument in a similar form Malinowski already anticipated; See A Scientific Theory, op. cit. p. 170. Google Scholar
  10. So basically Talcott Parsons / Robert F. Bales l Edward A. Shils, Working Papers in the Theory of Action, Glencoe, Ill., 1953. Google Scholar
  11. See. Walter B. Cannon, The Wisdom of the Body, New York 1932. Google Scholar
  12. There is a similar criticism David Easton, The Political System, New York 1953, p. 266 ff .; Limits of the Equilibrium Model in Social Research, in: Behavioral Science 1 (1956), pp. 96-104; see also R.C. Davis, The Domain of Homeostasis, in: Psychological Review 65 (1958), pp. 8-13. Google Scholar
  13. So by name Parsons et al., Working Papers, p. 108. See The Social System, p. 201 ff .; Working Papers, p. 31 ff .; Talcott Parsons / Edward A. Shils (Ed.), Toward a General Theory of Action, Cambridge, Mass., 1951, pp. 125 ff. Google Scholar
  14. De l’intelligence, 3rd ed. Paris 1878, esp. Vol. 1 p. 25 ff. Google Scholar
  15. The fact that identity is defined through the possibility of exchanging the identical is an old ontological tradition. See. Christian Wolff, Philosophia Prima Sive Ontologia, 2nd ed., Frankfurt-Leipzig 1736, reprint Darmstadt 1962, pp. 148 ff. Google Scholar
  16. A.a.O .; also: The Norm Reciprocity: A Preliminary Statement, in: American Sociological Review 25 (1960), pp. 161-178. Also Parsons' Concept of "double interchange" (cf. Talcott Parsons / Neil J. Smelser, Economy and Society, Glencoe, Ill., 1956, pp. 70 ff.) Means such an exchange relationship between several systems; however would Parsons use the term function only in relation to higher-level systems. Recently used George C. Homans, Social behavior. Its Elementary Forms, New York 1961, the exchange model basically as a theory of social behavior, but strictly rejecting a functionalist interpretation. Google Scholar
  17. See. Merton, loc. cit. Pp. 34, 52; Johnson, loc. cit. P. 68 ff .; Richard D. Schwartz, Functional Alternatives to Inequality, in: American Sociological Review 20 (1955), pp. 424-430. Google Scholar
  18. At Parsons z. B. it only appears in the theory of structural changes; see The Social System, p. 167, Parsons / Smelser, loc. cit., p. 256. Google Scholar
  19. So nail loc. cit. (1956) p. 248 f .; Emmet loc. cit. p. 47 f .; Raymond Firth, Function, in: William L. Thomas (Eds.), Yearbook of Anthropology 1955, New York 1955, pp. 237-258 (238). Google Scholar
  20. For the ambiguity and need for supplementation as defining features of the concept of function, cf. Thank God Frege, Basic Laws of Arithmetic, B. 1, Jena 1893, p. 5 ff., Bertrand Russel / Alfred North Whitehead, Introduction to mathematical logic, German translation, Munich-Berlin 1932, p. 57 f.Google Scholar
  21. So emphasizes z. B. Roman Ingarden, Essentiale questions, in: Yearbook for Philosophic and Phenomenological Research 7 (1925) pp. 125–304 (187), “data one has always overlooked the existence of the changeable in the content of the idea and thereby completely misunderstood the essence of the idea, by z. B. has completely wrongly defined as an "object" which only contains the common properties of all objects belonging to a class ”. Further to the problem of alternative elements in ideas Herbert Spiegelberg, About the essence of the idea, in: Yearbook for Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 11 (1930), pp. 1–238, esp. 148 ff., 168 ff. Google Scholar
  22. See. Walter Buckley, Structural-Functional Analysis in Modern Sociology, in: Howard Becker Alvin Boskoff (Eds.), Modern Sociological Theory in Continuity and Change, New York 1957, pp. 236-259 (255); further Kingsley Davis, loc. cit., p. 764 f .; nail, loc. cit. (1961), p. 528. Google Scholar
  23. See by name Ralf Dahrendorf, Structure and Function, in: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 7 (1955), pp. 491-519, and: Out of Utopia: Toward a Reorientation of Sociological Analysis, in: The American Journal of Sociology 64 (1958), p 115–127, on the one hand and Francesca Cancian, Functional Analysis of Change, in: American Sociological Review, 25 (1960), pp. 818-827, and Renate Mayntz, Sociology in the Hermitage ?, in: Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 13 (1961), pp. 110–125, especially pp. 111–113, on the other hand.Google Scholar
  24. So Robert S. Lynd, Knowledge for What ?, Princetown, N.J., 1939, p. 16. Google Scholar
  25. That is the point of the functional explanation model, that nail, loc. cit. (1956), designed. nail However, in a more recent publication (loc. cit., 1961), he himself doubts the applicability of this model in the social sciences.Google Scholar
  26. For this see z. B. George C. Homans, The Human Group, New York 1950, p. 268 ff .; Firth, ibid., p. 240; Buckley, loc. cit., p. 243 f .; nail, loc. cit. (1961), p. 526 ff. Google Scholar
  27. So expressly z. B. nail, loc. cit., p. 368 ff .; Philip Selznick, TVA and the Grass Roots, Berkeley-Los Angeles 1949.Google Scholar
  28. a As a critic of the thesis of the special causal causation of a system, cf. B. Everett E. Hagen, Analytical Models in the Study of Social Systems, in: The American Journal of Sociology, 67 (1961), pp. 144-151. Google Scholar
  29. For this origin see specifically Radcliffe-Brown, loc. cit., p. 394 f .; Emmett, loc. cit., p. 48 ff .; nail, loc. cit. (1953), p. 196 ff. (1956), p. 248 ff. (1961), p. 401 ff Google Scholar
  30. See e.g. B. Parsons, The Social System, p. 26 ff .; Marion J. Levy, The Structure of Society, Princeton, N.J., 1952. Google Scholar
  31. So z. B. Merton, ibid, p. 51; Levy, loc. cit., p. 76 ff .; otherwise expressly nail loc. cit. (1956), p. 270. Google Scholar
  32. Merton, op. cit., p. 51 speaks of "net balance of the aggregate of consequences". Google Scholar
  33. Even in the theory of rational decision-making, one begins to take into account the incomparability of the consequences of actions. To mean Article: Can the administration act economically ?, in: Verwaltungsarchiv 51 (1960) pp. 97–115.Google Scholar
  34. Peter M. Blue, The Dynamics of Bureaucracy, Chicago 1955. Google Scholar
  35. In it sees Hempel, op. cit., p. 286, made a serious objection to functionalist analysis. Google Scholar
  36. See. Hempel, loc. cit., inbes. P. 293 ff .; nail, loc. cit. (1956), p. 264 f. (1961), p. 526 ff .; Kingsley Davis, loc. cit., pp. 762 f., 768; Charles R. Wright, Functional Analysis and Mass Communication, in: Public Opinion Quarterly 24 (1960), pp. 605-620 (606 f., 618 f.). Google Scholar
  37. See note 29 above and the context there.Google Scholar
  38. Also Hempel, op. cit., p. 289, admits that one can arrive at useful functional hypotheses through conditionalization. However, this idea remains unevaluated within the framework of the causal scientific prerequisites.Google Scholar
  39. Merton, loc. cit., p. 54, briefly mentions the comparative analysis in connection with the verification problem. See also Johnson, loc. cit., p. 76 f.Google Scholar
  40. This is the thought behind Malinowski Formulation: "It is the diversity of function not the identity of form that is relevant to the student of culture" (Culture, in: Encyclopedia of the Social Science Vol. 4, New York 1931, pp. 621–646 [625]. Google Scholar
  41. Cf. Eugene Fink, On the early ontological history of space, time, and movement, The Hague 1957.Google Scholar
  42. A remark from Murray Horwitz, Psychological Needs as a Function of Social Environments, in: Leonard D. White (Ed.), The State of the Social Sciences, Chicago 1956, pp. 162 to 183 (163), also opposes the general assumption that "that, stable" attributes of the person cannot be based on, unstable "properties of the psychological environment ". Google Scholar

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