Beyond Cultural Clumps

Clumppity-Clump Traditional approaches to the study of culture begin with “cultural clumps” and theorize from there. Like the devil, these clumps have been given many names throughout history. For instance, the unqualified use of the term “culture,” from Tylor’s famous definition onward, is usually meant to refer to such a …

Sociology’s Motivation Problem (Part II)

In a previous post, we outlined the three critical mistakes sociologists make in theorizing about motivation. We referred to them as the mono-motivational, social-psychological, and list-making fallacies. In this post, we briefly summarize each fallacy. We follow with a more extended discussion on how recent interdisciplinary work in social, cognitive, …

A Sociology of “Thinking Dispositions”

In a recent interview about his life and career, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman said two particularly interesting things. First, he said much of his current work is focused on individual differences in what he refers to as “System 1” and “System 2” thinking. He discussed his …

Sociology’s Motivation Problem (Part I)

Sociology has an action problem. Explaining social action rests at the core of sociological inquiry. However, at best, the typical explanatory mechanisms focus almost exclusively on two of Mead’s three aspects of the self: the generalized other and the me. Six decades after Dennis Wrong’s (1962, 1963) critique of mid-twentieth-century …

Culture and Action, or Why Action Theory is not Optional

The main reason social scientists study culture is because of the (sometimes implicit) hypothesis that culture “affects” or “causes” action (Swidler 2001a, 2001b; Vaisey 2009). If culture was a causally inert cloud of stuff floating around doing nothing, it would not be worth anyone’s attention. That is, cultural theory and …

Habit versus Skill

Habit versus Skill Ascriptions Habit and skill tend to be run together in social theory and the philosophy of action (Dalton, 2004). However, there are good conceptual and empirical reasons to keep them distinct (Douskos, 2017b). Notably, the ascription of skill and habits entail different things about action, and only …

Habit as Prediction

In a previous post, Mike Strand points to the significant rise of the “predictive turn” in the sciences of action and cognition under the banner of “predictive processing” (Clark, 2015; Wiese & Metzinger, 2017). This turn is consequential, according to Mike, because it takes prediction and turns it from something …

Explaining social phenomena by multilevel mechanisms

Four questions about multilevel mechanisms In our previous post, we discussed mechanistic philosophy of science and its contribution to the cognitive social sciences. In this blog post, we will discuss three case studies of research programs at the interface of the cognitive sciences and the social sciences. In our cases, …

Did John Dewey Put Prediction into Action?

Prediction does not appear, at first, to be something that a sociologist, or really any analyst of anything, can safely ascribe to those (or that) which they are studying without running afoul of about a thousand different stringent rules that define how probability can be used for the purposes of …

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