Peter Abell, Teppo Felin, Nicolai J. Foss

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Microfoundations of Social Theory. A Response to Jepperson and Meyer

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Keywords: Micro-Macro; Aggregation and Emergence; Social Theory; Multi-level Theorizing.

In this essay we respond to Jepperson and Meyer's [2011] critique of "action theories" and methodological individualism in sociology. We highlight fundamental problems with their argument, notably their misconception of methodological individualism(s) and the belief that this explanatory principle ignores - and is somehow invalidated by - the complex, "emergent" and multi-level nature of social phenomena. We focus on the need to specify and understand: 1) component actors and social complexity; 2) theory of action, aggregation, and emergence; 3) self-selection and matching; and 4) process and the context of action. We concurrently critique Jepperson and Meyer's own (implicit but highly problematic and under-specified) theory of action.

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