Quality and Quantity

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 389–405 | Cite as

Holism versus Reductionism in Modern Social Science Research

  • Piet J. M. Verschuren


Since an early stage in most of thetechnical sciences, and during the last fewdecades in many of the social sciences,reductionistic research has become a mainstream typeof empirical research. This research, to becharacterised methodologically in this article, hasproven to be very successful in buildinga body of abstract and generalisable theoreticalknowledge, for reasons that are made clearin this article. However, does reductionism graspreality in its full extent, the whole beingmore than the sum of its parts? In this articlearguments and research strategies for holisticempirical research are presented, offering advantagesand possibilities for modern social scienceresearch.

reductionism holistic empirical research social science research 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piet J. M. Verschuren
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Methodology, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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