Sociology Index


Psychological reductionism is the process of reducing all social activity and behavior to the psychological characteristics of the human actors involved. Such reduction eliminates the possibility of sociology since it denies that there is anything greater than the individual. Society is simply an aggregation of individuals.

David Emile Durkheim argued against this in his study of suicide by arguing, and demonstrating, that even after providing a psychological explanation for individual acts of suicide there was something still to account for: the difference in suicide rates between societies. This he showed was derived from characteristics of the society and could not be explained as dependent on individual psychological characteristics. Psychological reductionism tries to prove that psychological processes are merely a product of biological functions.

Reductionism Revisited - On the Role of Reduction in Psychology 
Marko Barendregt, J. F. Hans van Rappard, Vrije Universiteit - Reductionism in psychology is often linked with the mind-body problem. This paper reviews the reductionism debate and concludes that many of its controversies can indeed be traced to the relation between reduction and the metaphysical mind-body problem.

It is proposed that reductionism, by bridging different theories, rather should be considered as a scientific stance which favours interdisciplinary co-operation. This perspective on reductionism throws a new light on the classical model of reduction, which may capture important aspects of intertheoretic reductions if it is recognized that the bridges between theories do not need to comply completely with the classical conditions. These ideas are illustrated by analysing an example of reductionistic research concerning the psychology and neuropsychology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Maddening Melancholy: The Perils of Psychological Reductionism in Walker Percy
Richard Ford, and Jonathan Franzen, Robert Scott Stewart, Cape Breton University
Over the past twenty odd years, North America has witnessed the complete medicalization of unhappiness by transforming it into depression, which has been conceived in psychologically reductionistic terms. Many are unhappy with this state of affairs, including the contemporary American novelists, Walker Percy, Richard Ford, and Jonathan Franzen. This paper explores why they are unhappy with this trend and why they reject psychological reductionism in favor of a vision of life that is more thoroughly moral in its outlook.

The Disorderly Crowd: From Classical Psychological Reductionism to Socio-Contextual Theory - The Impact on Public Order Policing Strategies, DAVID WADDINGTON, Sheffield Hallam University, MIKE KING, University of Central England - Department of Criminal Justice 
Abstract: Following the publication in 1895 of Gustav Le Bon's seminal work, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, psychological explanations of collective disorder unremittingly emphasised the supposedly anomalous and irrational nature of the phenomenon. Recently, however, this classical theoretical tradition has been supplanted by increasingly enlightened social-psychological and socio-political approaches which emphasise the importance to our understanding of the contexts, dynamics and underlying meanings of episodes of public disorder. This article outlines the evolution of these theoretical perspectives and notes the extent to which they appear to have induced corresponding shifts in police public order strategy.