Sociology Index


Pluralism has three principal meanings in the social sciences. Pluralism is a model of politics where power is assumed to be widely dispersed to different individuals and interest groups within a society. Pluralism ensures that political processes will be relatively open and democratic and will reflect a spectrum of social interests rather than the domination of particular groups.

Pluralism describes a society where individual and group differences are present and are celebrated as enriching the social fabric. Pluralism is a view of the causation of social phenomena, especially of social change, that examines the interaction of a variety of factors rather than relying on a single explanatory cause.

Moral pluralism is the idea that there are several values which may be equally correct and fundamental, and yet in conflict with each other.

Max Weber in stressing the importance of cultural as well as material forces in creating change within a society offers a more pluralistic framework for explanation than the more exclusively materialist approach of Karl Marx.

Religious Pluralism Versus Social Cohesion? - Normative Fault Lines of Human Rights Jurisprudence in Europe - Daniel Augenstein, University of Edinburgh - School of Law
September 15, 2009 University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper No. 2009-23
Abstract: This essay explores the tension between religious pluralism and social cohesion in European human rights jurisprudence. I argue that, at the national level, concerns for social cohesion stem from negative and defensive societal attitudes towards religious diversity that are difficult to reconcile with the normative premises of religious pluralism in a democratic society. How two trans-national European courts, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), address the tension between religious pluralism and social cohesion identified at the national levels. While the ECtHR pursues a strategy of avoidance that fails to effectively scrutinise national social cohesion limitations of freedom of religion in the light of its own appraisal of religious pluralism, the ECJ must pursue a strategy of integration that confronts this tension in an autonomous way on the basis of the supra-national EU legal order. I outline such a strategy of integration that re-interprets the relationship between religious pluralism and social cohesion in European human rights jurisprudence through challenging the association of social cohesion with the containment or suppression of religious diversity.

HARTRY FIELD, Philosophy Department, New York University
Abstract: A number of people have proposed that we should be pluralists about logic, but there are several things this can mean. Are there versions of logical pluralism that are both high on the interest scale and also true? After discussing some forms of pluralism that seem either insufficiently interesting or quite unlikely to be true, the paper suggests a new form which might be both interesting and true; however, the scope of the pluralism that it allows logic is extremely narrow.

Religious Pluralism, Globalization, and World Politics
Banchoff, Thomas (Editor), Director, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009
Abstract: Globalization has spawned more active transnational religious communities, creating a powerful force in world affairs. This book explores the patterns of cooperation and conflict that mark this new religious pluralism. In this volume, leading scholars from a variety of disciplines examine how the forces of religious pluralism and globalization are playing out on the world stage.

Varieties of Healing. 1: Medical Pluralism in the United States
Ted J. Kaptchuk, OMD, and David M. Eisenberg, MD
Annals 7 August 2001, Volume 135 Issue 3 Pages 189-195
Medicine has become interested in unconventional healing practices, ostensibly because of recent demographic research that reveals a thriving medical market of multiple options. This essay presents a historical overview of medical pluralism in the United States. Despite parallels with the past, the recent widespread interest in alternative medicine also represents a dramatic reconfiguration of medical pluralism, from historical antagonism to what might arguably be described as a topical acknowledgment of postmodern medical diversity. This essay is an introduction to a discussion of a taxonomy of contemporary U.S. medical pluralism, which also appears in this issue.

Law, Pluralism and the Family In Kenya: Beyond Bifurcation of Formal Law and Custom
Winifred Kamau, Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi, Kenya
International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 2009 23(2):133-144;
Abstract: Family law in Africa has been is characterized by pluralism where customary, religious and state laws co-exist within the same social context. The article argues that the bifurcatory approach stems from an erroneous conceptualization of customary law, manifested in a weak form of legal pluralism that does not give effect to people's experience of the intersection of legal orders. In thinking about reform of family law in the African context, there is need for an approach to legal pluralism that pays attention to people's perception of their normative context.

Pluralistic Naturalism
There are two main kinds of naturalism: materialism and pluralistic naturalism. Materialism, or physicalism, is a "monistic" form of naturalism in that it maintains that only one basic kind of stuff exists--physical stuff. Pluralistic naturalism, by contrast, combines naturalism with ontological pluralism, the idea that there is more than just one basic kind of stuff.

Value Pluralism and Liberal Political Order: The Diversity Argument - Neal, Patrick
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association
Abstract: Does value pluralism generate a case in support of liberal poilitcal principles? This paper critically analyzes one set of arguments that claim to establish such a case, those offered by George Crowder under the label of the "diversity argument."

Legal pluralism - European University Institute (EUI)
Abstract: Legal pluralism has become a major theme in socio-legal studies. Despite their eclectic character, these many conceptions of legal pluralism also share some common fundamental premises concerning the nature of law, its function, and its relationship with its cultural milieu. In a first section, I shall briefly describe the main trends in the field of legal pluralism, from its historical scientific background to its more recent theories. In a second section, I formulate some of the major criticisms which can be addressed to the postulates sustaining these many versions of legal pluralism. These critical stances vis-a-vis the legal pluralistic study of law articulate around three main questions, the definitional problem, the functionalist premises, and the culturalist conception which undermine existing theories. I shall argue, in the third section, that realism is a possible remedy to these flaws. However, these are best addressed through what I call a praxiological re-specification of the whole issue of legal pluralism, which I shall illustrate through the study of Egyptian cases.

Explanatory Pluralism and Heuristic Identity Theory
Robert N. McCauley, Emory University - William Bechtel, Washington University, St Louis
Explanatory pluralism holds that the sorts of comprehensive theoretical and ontological economies that microreductionists and New Wave reductionists envision and antireductionists fear offer misleading views of both scientific practice and scientific progress. Both advocates and foes of employing reductionist strategies at the interface of psychology and neuroscience have overplayed the alleged economies that interlevel connections (including identities) justify while overlooking their fundamental role in promoting scientific research. A brief review of research on visual processing provides support for the explanatory pluralist's general model of cross-scientific relations and discloses the valuable heuristic role hypothetical identities play in cross-scientific research.

Pattern pluralism and the Tree of Life hypothesis - W. Ford Doolittle and Eric Bapteste
Abstract: Pattern pluralism is an attractive alternative to the quixotic pursuit of a single true TOL.