Pragmatism and the study of large-scale social phenomena

Abstract

Pragmatism has recently gained ground as a theoretical perspective in sociology. The approach is not without its critics, however. One common charge is that pragmatism is oriented toward the micro and not well suited for the explanation of meso- or macro-level events, processes, or outcomes. In this paper—a review essay—I consider whether the charge has merit. I examine four studies that draw heavily on pragmatism and give some indication of its explanatory potential. Taken together, these studies suggest that pragmatism has much to offer analysts of large-scale social phenomena. At the same time, key issues remain to be worked out.

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Correspondence to Neil Gross.

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Gross, N. Pragmatism and the study of large-scale social phenomena. Theor Soc 47, 87–111 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-018-9307-9

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Keywords

  • Analytical sociology
  • Critical realism
  • Habit
  • Macro sociology
  • Political economy
  • Pragmatism