Understanding Mechanistic Explanation as A Strategy of Analytical Sociology


  • Danjuma Sheidu Asaka Department of Sociology, Kogi State University, Nigeria
  • Olabode Awarun Department of Sociology, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria




Analysis, Explanations, Social Mechanism, Social Reality, Strategy


Although Analytical Sociology is not often used in mainstream Sociology, its history is, however, traceable to the classical works of scholars such as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Alexis de Tocqueville as well as contemporary sociological thinkers like Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton, among others. This paper provides a contemporary argument for the application of mechanistic explanation in the overall understanding of Analytical Sociology using relevant and practical examples. In the course of this, attention has been paid to the concept of explanation and its various types in a sociological discourse. This paper therefore argues that social reality can significantly be understood only when explanations are systematic and detailed in content and context. The conclusion is that analytical sociology can explain the actions of social actors within the social environment beyond some social doubts, even though, not all situations, can be sufficiently explained with the strategy.


Download data is not yet available.


Babbie, E. (2007). “The Practice of Social Research”, 11th edition, Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth.

Bunge, M.A. (1997). Mechanism and Explanation. Philosophy of Science, 27: 410-465.

Craver, C. (2007). Explaining the Brain. Mechanisms and the Mosaic Unity of Neuroscience. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Coleman, J. (1990). Foundations of Social Theory. United States, Harvard University Press.

Demeulenaere, P. (2011). Analytical Sociology and Social Mechanisms. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Elser, J. (1998). “A plea for mechanisms”, in P. Hedstrom and R. Swedberg (eds.), Social Mechanisms: Analytical Approach to Social Theory, 45-73. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Elser, J. (1989). Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Ekstrom, M. (1992). Causal Explanation of Social Action: The Contribution of Max Weber and Critical Realism to a Generative View of Causal Explanation in the Social Sciences. Acta Sociologica 35 (2):107 (16).

Gross, N. (2009). A Pragmatist Theory of Social Mechanisms. American Sociological Review 74: 358–379.

Halina, M. (2017). “Mechanistic Explanation and Its Limits”, Routledge Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanical Philosophy, Retrieved on 4th of March, 2020 from https://www.academia.edu/12380722/Mechanistic_Explanation_and_Its_Limits

Hedstrom, P. and Bearman, P. (ed) (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Hedstrom, P. and Udehn, L (2011). Analytical Sociology and Theories of the Middle Range, in the Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Hedstrom, P. (2005). Dissecting the Social: On the Principles of Analytical Sociology. Cambridge-New York, Cambridge University Press.

Little, D. (2011). Causal mechanisms in the Social Realm, in Causality in the Sciences, In P.M Illari, F. Russo and J. Williamson (eds.), Oxford University Press.

Little, D. (2012). “Social Mechanisms and Scientific Realism: Discussion of Mechanistic Explanation in Social Contexts”, in Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1


Leon-Medina, F. J. (2017). “Analytical Sociology and Agent-Based Modeling: Is Generative Sufficiency Sufficient?” Sociological Theory, 35 (3): 157-178

Machamer, P., Darden, L., and Craver, C.F. (2000). “Thinking about Mechanisms”, Philosophy of Science, 67:1-25

Manzo, G. (2014): Analytical Sociology: Actions and Network, Wiley Series in Computational and Quantitative Social Science.

Mayntz, R. (2004). “Mechanisms in the Analysis of Social Macro-Phenomena”, Retrieved on 27th February, 2020 from https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393103262552

Ylikoski, P. (2011). “Social Mechanisms and Explanatory Relevance”, in P. Demeulenaere

(ed), Analytical Sociology and Social Mechanisms, Cambridge University Press.

Ylikoski, P. (2015). “The Rise of Social Mechanism”, International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences 2nd edition, Retrieved on 25th February, 2020 from




How to Cite

Asaka, D. S., & Olabode Awarun. (2020). Understanding Mechanistic Explanation as A Strategy of Analytical Sociology. Indonesian Journal of Social and Environmental Issues (IJSEI), 1(3), 191-197. https://doi.org/10.47540/ijsei.v1i3.55