Keywords: Analytical sociology, methodological individualism, methodological localism, philosophy of sociology, philosophy of social science, reductionism.
The programme of analytical sociology brings sharp focus to fundamental issues in sociology as a scientific discipline. Its practitioners offer a clear paradigm of how sociological explanations ought to proceed, from individual actors to social outcomes. This essay considers limitations of the approach as a general framework for all sociological research, however. The essay surveys recent high-quality research by a number of sociologists and other social scientists and demonstrates that their explanations often do not conform to the aggregative model advocated by AS. Additional philosophical arguments are provided for justifying the point that we can attribute relative explanatory autonomy to meso-level social structures. The essay offers a brief description of an approach to social ontology referred to as "methodological localism."