chapter  6
The Concept of Structure in Sociology
ByDavid Rubinstein
Pages 15

The most recent and self-conscious attempt to establish sociology on aggregate variables that can be identified independently of actors' ideas is network theory. Bruce Mayhew argues that a proper sociology consists exclusively in the study of aggregate structures that are independent of the consciousness of social members. The positivist goal of explanatory parsimony is clear in Durkheim's claim that 'the number of social units' and 'dynamic density' is the basic explanatory elements of sociology. Duncan and Schnore believe that their notion of social structure can underwrite a general sociology. Like the attempt to reduce sociological explanation to a handful of structural variables defined independently of culture and psychology, the deletion of intentional action is justified in terms of the classics of sociology. The promise of a strictly structural sociology has remained a background ambition that waxes and wanes as new formulations appear. Structural sociology has promised a lever with which people that resists 'education' can be changed anyway.