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Can Explanation and Understanding Be Linked?

Archer, Margaret S.


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Abstract The problem of linking 'explanation' & 'understanding' remains unresolved -- as Weber left it. This paper challenges the view that their reconciliation is impossible, as some theorists have maintained. Their case is that the entities involved -- subjective meanings & objective relationships -- are too ontologically different to be combined. From the stratified ontology of Social Realism, which acknowledges that different properties & powers pertain to different components & levels of social reality, this is no barrier in principle to their combination. However, in practice Realists have not given an adequate account of how 'subjectivity' & 'objectivity' are linked, which also weakens Realism's solution to the 'problem of structure & agency.' This paper offers a refinement: the human power of reflexivity is viewed as mediating between our subjective concerns & our objective social contexts. Reflexive deliberations account for what agents actually do -- and they do not all do the same thing -- under very similar social circumstances. The introduction of reflexivity enables the (socially) objective & the (personally) subjective to be combined into a single account of socially structured & structuring action.
Klassifikation Generelle Theorien der Sozialwissenschaften
Freie Schlagwörter Social Theories; Reality; Agency and Structure; Reflexivity; Ontology
Sprache Dokument Andere Sprache
Publikationsjahr 2008
Seitenangabe S. 7-22
Zeitschriftentitel Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 44 (2008) 1
Status Veröffentlichungsversion; begutachtet
Lizenz Deposit Licence - Keine Weiterverbreitung, keine Bearbeitung