[LOCAL LOGO 1] New Rules of Sociological Method
A Positive Critique of Interpretative Socilogies

Anthony Giddens -- 1993
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  • [GIDDENS93A] Giddens, Anthony. 1993. New Rules of Sociological Method -- A Positive Critique of Interpretative Sociologies. Polity Press, pp. 186. [HM24 Gid CLMS, ISBN 0-7456-1116-8]
    MEMO: about "method" in the sense in which social philosophers characteristically employ the term - the sense in which Durkheim used it in his Rules of Social Method [p. viii].
  • Interpretative sociologist are "strong on action, but weak on structure". On the other hand, fuctionalist and structural approaches, while "strong on structure", has been "weak on action " [p. 4].
  • Conclusion [pp. 163-170]:
    • The social world, unlike the world of nature, has to be grasped as a skilled accomplishment of active human subjects; the constition of this world as "meaningful", "accountable", or "intelligible" depends upon language, regarded, however, not simply as a system of signs or symbols but as a medium of practical activity; the social scientist of necessity draws upon the same sorts of skills as those whose conduct he or she seeks to analyse in order to describe it; generating description of social conduct depends upon hermeneutic task of penetrating the frames of meaning which lay actors themselves draw upon in constituting ans reconstituting the social world.
    • Sociology is not concerned with a "pre-given" universe of objects, but with one which is constituted or produced by the active doings of subjects.
    • The production and reproduction of society this has to be treaded as a skilled performance on the part of its members.
    • The realm of human agency is bounded. Human beings produce society, but they do so as historically located actors, and not under conditions of their own choosing.
    • (The duality of structure:) Stucture must not be conceptualized as simply placing constraints upon human agency, but enabling.
    • Processes of structuration involve an interplay of meanings, norms, and power.
    • The sociological observer cannot make social life available as a "phenomenon" for observation independently of drawing upon her/his knowledge of it as a resource whereby it is constituted as a "topic for investigation".
    • Immersion in a form of life is the necessary and only means whereby an observer is able to generate such characterizations.
    • Sociological concepts this obey a double hermeneutic
      • The hermeneutic explication and mediation of divergent forms of life within descriptive metalanguages of social science
      • Explication of the production and reproduction of society as the accomplished outcome of human agency.
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